Ever since Instagram’s debut in 2010, there have been more than 40 billion photos and videos posted on Instagram. Most influencers, marketers, and users tend to only focus on photos and videos alone, thereby giving less attention to the ‘alt text’, another important feature of leveraging Instagram. Wondering what is ‘alt text’ and why it is in any way relevant to your Instagram success? Read on, as we will be sharing insightful tips on this hidden gem to Instagram success.
What is Alt Text?
Alt Text is simply described as “Alternative Text”. It is displayed as an alternative in instances when a picture fails to load. Before now, it is neglected and only regarded as something you should only be worried about when dealing with conventional web pages. However today, its function has gone beyond that. If you have ever placed your cursor on a picture and had text appear ― that is alt text! Without it, people may miss what your picture is all about in cases it failed to load. All online pictures either uploaded directly from a website or social media platform always have the ALT text attached to them except if the owner decides not to. Alt text helps the visually impaired to read online content. Prior to recently, Instagram has known for not being friendly to the visually impaired. As an active Instagram user, a platform where pictures and videos are the main content, “Alt Text” cannot be more important.
Step by Step Guide to Using Instagram Alt Text
Adding Alt Text to your Instagram post is as easy as adding captions. If you are still confused, don’t worry as this is what we will be discussing in this section. There are two types of Instagram photos, one is those already on your feed and another that you are planning to upload.
Adding Alt Text to New Pictures on Instagram
Step #1: Upload a picture on Instagram
To add alt text, you will need an existing photo. Use the ‘+’ icon for this.
Step #2: Add filters
Manipulate the picture using the filter features on Instagram such as Clarendon and Gingham. Else, leave it be if you are satisfied with the appearance of the uploaded itself.
Step #3: Select “Advanced settings”
The next page you will see is the caption page where you can add a description of the photo and also play around with #hashtag. One of our previous articles discusses the importance of using #hashtags on your Instagram posts.
Step #4: Add your Alt text
Add your alt text by clicking on “Write Alt text” after selecting the advanced settings. It is recommended that your Alt Text is no more than 100 characters long.
Step #5: Select “Done”
Now select “Done” to complete your picture edit.
Adding Alt Text to Pictures Already Posted on Instagram
It is not too late to add Alt Text to your already posted pictures on Instagram. Here is how:
Step #1: Select the photo
Navigate your Instagram profile to locate the old photo.
Step #2: Locate (…) on the picture and select
Step #3: Select “Edit”
You will see a pop-up with options like “Archive”, “Turn Off”, “Edit”, “Copy Link”, and “Share”.
Step #4: Click “Edit Alt Text”
You should now see two icons below the pictures. Choose the “Edit Alt Text” option. It will be by the far right.
Step #5: Write your Alt text
A box page will appear for you to enter your Alt Text. Always remember the recommended maximum character for Instagram Alt Text is 120 but no more than 100 characters is highly encouraged.
Importance of Using Instagram Alt Text
Prior to Instagram introducing the custom Alt Text feature, the visually impaired usually find it difficult to use Instagram even though they found using other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter easy to navigate. In an interview with Rob Long, a 30-year-old Brazilian jujitsu competitor in London who was injured during combat in Afghanistan, which caused him to lose both eyes. Long claimed he enjoyed technology and that it has significantly improved his standard of living. He had a reservation on the use of Instagram. Commenting he said, “Instagram is so visual that it’s just a nightmare,” he said. “I’m hoping AI bots can help with this. If Facebook can do it, I’m sure Instagram can do it,” he added. Instagram included the Alt Text feature in November the same year (2018).
Instagram is quoted by Fortune to have stated the importance of Alt Text feature inclusion in its platform to be to allow “users to create custom alternative text, enabling them to create a more detailed description of a photo when it is being uploaded. Those with visual impairments who rely on a screen reader to hear a description of the photo will then hear this version of the alt text as opposed to that which is automatically created by A.I.”
Aside from making the use of Instagram easier and more enjoyable for the visually impaired, Alt Text does more for your Instagram photos. Outside the use of Instagram, Alt Text allows search engines to rank an image better and thus makes it more popular online. Google notably uses it for its SERP (Search Engine Ranking Pages). This means you will do good with alt text by getting ranked on the first page of a related search result possible.
Writing SEO Optimized Alt Text
With the knowledge of Alt Text functioning beyond making pictures more understandable for the visually impaired, it is important that you do not just describe the picture in the provided box. The text needs to be written to be search engine friendly. This is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) trick for your Instagram photos and also the account.
Here are simple tricks to optimize your alt text for search engine:
Do Not Exceed 125 Characters, 120 Is Better
Since Alt text is basically developed for the visually challenged, you must have them in mind while writing. Most ADA tools only read the characters up to the 120th character. Targeting 100 characters will help you achieve a better character count; you will only be a few characters above and that will likely be below 120.
Don’t Stuff Keywords
You may be tempted with the aspiration of ranking best such that you may want to stuff your alt text with keywords you want to rank for. Only include characters that describe your product and services.
Add Your Brand Name
Forget about the last point for a moment. Even though it is advisable to use non-branded keywords, it is important you also add your brand name. The main idea of advising against the use of non-branded keywords in the last point was to enable your image to also rank in searches that may be interested in your products/services and undoubtedly, there are lots of them. Adding your brand name will make the image also rank in brand-related searches.
Be Creative as Much as Possible
Avoid the use of starting your alt text with phrases like “this is an image of…”; “photo of ….” And other phrases indicating the Alt Text is describing an image. ADA tools for the visually impaired is designed to identify images and would announce that even if it is not included in the Alt Text. Omitting this will give you more characters to describe your products/services with.