Instagram Alt Text – A Hidden Gem?

If you are familiar with SEO, then you probably know what alt text is.

👉Alt Text is used to describe an image. Alt text (alternative text), also known as “alt attributes”, “alt descriptions”, or most often and technically incorrectly as “alt tags,” are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page.

Alt text used on websites, has traditionally been used as a place to add keywords to help boost SEO.

In 2018, Instagram released the feature to edit your alt text, in an effort to make the app more accessible to those that are visually impaired. There was a short lived buzz about it being an AMAZING new feature, that fizzled off…

I was thinking about this the other day wondering, “why is no one talking about this? This could be an absolute goldmine!” So, I decided to do some research (like I always do…down the rabbit hole) to see if alt text was a hidden gem that was currently untapped.

All of the articles online pointed out that alt text is super important in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), so therefore they must be important to utilize on Instagram. Only one problem…. Instagram is not a search engine and has VERY limited search.

Some articles even claimed that your posts would be found on Google or other search engines now… this is absolutely not true. Google will pull up Instagram pages, but it does not reference feed posts, let alone read Instagram Alt Text to help your posts show up in search engines.

Want to test it? Search your name on Google. You’ll see your Instagram page in search results but you won’t see any of your posts pulled up as a link like an article.

Not a single article online had tested to see if Alt Text actually made any difference, nor did they show any reason why it would be of benefit to Instagram users -besides just correlating it to Search Engine Optimization 🤦‍♀️(there is SO much bad information online)

In my research I also found out that Instagram will actually auto create an alt text for all of your images using AI. So, all of your photos do have alt text, just not ones that you have created.

My conclusion (as of right now) is that it will not help your posts be found.

I feel like #hashtags are the benefit to Instagram that alt text is to SEO.

I do however think that in the future Instagram will start to become more “searchable” like a search engine. Which I would LOVE!

The saddest thing to me about Instagram, is that so many people put so much time and energy into their instagram posts, only for them to go into the content graveyard a few days later when they drop off the feed. This is the exact reason why I teach my students in ISA how to keep their feed content alive and highly searchable. Don’t let your content die.

It is important to note that platforms love to reward users who help them out and utilize features. If instagram really wanted the alt text to be user created, they would reward the users that are doing it.

I tested alt text for a few weeks on my own Instagram, and came to the conclusion that it does not reward users. At least not as of right now, but perhaps in the future? Who knows.

So, should you be editing your alt text?

Why not! It only takes 2 seconds, and if it ever does give you an advantage you’ll be readily prepared. At the very least, you could edit the alt text on posts that really matter.

BUT, it is also a GREAT way for you to help any viewers that may be visually impaired to understand what your photo actually is, rather than having instagram AI “guess”.

How to add Alt Text on Instagram:

Alt text can be added to photos during the publishing process by following the steps below:

  • Start by taking a photo or uploading an existing photo to Instagram.
  • Choose a filter or edit the image, then tap Next.
  • Tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Alt Text.
  • Write your alt text in the box and tap Done.

Alt text can also be added to existing photos by following these steps:

  • Go to the photo and tap the three-dot menu icon.
  • Tap Add Alt Text in the bottom right.
  • Write the alt text in the box and tap Done.

What do you think about alt text on Instagram?

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