Instagram Introduces Alt Text to Photos | What It Means

Instagram continues to change its functions around on us, adding features it believes will help users navigate the app, providing them with personalized content they are likely to benefit from. Recently, the platform rolled out alt text on photos changing the entire way the app is used. ICYMI, Alt text is typically used so search engines like Google can determine what the image is, and help translate the image for those who are visually impaired. In partnership with that, alt text helps the SEO of your content by showing your photo when someone searches for a keyword. Ever click on the image tab on Google? Yes, I know you have, so have I. Do you ever see a keyword under each photo? Yes, yes you have. And you guessed it- thats alt text.

So what is Instagram alt text?

Instagram alt text is a new feature that will help millions of people around the world with vision impairments access Instagram more efficiently, by allowing them to hear descriptions of photos while scrolling their feed, explore, and profile. Screen readers help those with visual impairments know what the photo is, either by the user creating automatic alt text which uses object recognition technology or customized alt text which allows the user the ability to add a richer description.

You simply:

  1. Click on the plus button to publish a new post

  2. Choose a photo

  3. Click next and scroll down to advanced settings at the bottom

  4. Add alt text which is again at the bottom of the list.

    Easy Peasy

Making the Internet more accessible for the visually impaired is a HUGE step in the right direction- yay IG. But it has other benefits, such as helping with e-commerce stores. When purchasing clothes, accessories, electronics, basically anything tangible online alt text can help search engines determine what the product is so when people search for something like ‘gold ring’ the product with the alt text is likely to show up on Google. Prompting the user to click on it leading them to the website, and a potential sale. You get the idea.

So what does the future hold for Instagram in this sense? Will the algorithm take alt text into consideration when determining what you see on your feed? Yes of course, if the technology is being used to determine what the photo is it becomes likely to show up when you’re searching for something specific (think gold ring) If you search something more specific like a certain cafe that photo will show up under the tag, linking you to the users Instagram profile. Thus giving us more ways to strategize our content.

In short, Instagram is now targeting who your audience is in a slightly more powerful way, for free. And with this new feature your photos will start showing up in Google rankings, which is VERY good for your business because Google rankings can help send people to your profile, then to your website, and eventually (hopefully) converting them into customers or even loyal followers.

So even if you still don’t fully understand or see the point in Instagram adding alt text to photos, give it a try by adding keywords to your photos and creating a description for people and see what happens. It’s only a small extra step, and you really have nothing to lose.

EIC xx