Now you know how to include alt text to your Instagram posts. But do you add the right Instagram alt text in your posts? If not, it’s time to discover more.
Alt text, or “alternative text,” on Instagram is a crucial feature for enhancing accessibility and improving user experience, especially for reaching new audiences. It’s also essential for Instagram’s algorithm, which depends on alt text to identify the subject of a post.
Learn more about the significance of Instagram alt text, discover how to utilize it effectively, and begin with our all-inclusive guide!
How to write great alt text for Instagram
For those new to writing Instagram alt text or who want to ensure they’re doing it correctly, there are several best practices to follow. Additionally, we’ve provided some examples of effective Instagram alt text.
Instagram alt text serves to provide an accurate description of the image being shared. To ensure users understand the content of your post, it’s crucial to write descriptive alt text that includes relevant details.
For instance, instead of writing “a photo of a dog,” provide specifics such as “a black labrador guide dog wearing an orange harness sitting in front of an orange tree during fall.”
This image could be simply described as “women on a surfboard,” but a more precise description would be “a woman wearing an orange bathing suit crouches on a surfboard as she rides a wave.”
When writing Instagram alt text, it’s essential to keep accessibility in mind. Consider how someone who can’t see the image would understand it, and use that as a framework for crafting your alt text. Be sure to include relevant details about any significant elements or context in the image to provide an accurate and informative description.
The perfect alt-textual content for Instagram precisely describes the picture you’re posting while not being too lengthy or cluttered.
You can use up to 100 characters for Instagram alt text. But keep in mind that some screen readers may cut off at 125 characters. It’s important to be both descriptive and concise.
One common mistake when writing Instagram alt text for illustrations or art is to include too much detail. However, it’s important to break down the most significant elements into shorter phrases and words. Instagram users who use screen readers can still get the gist of what’s in the image this way.
An alt text that is too lengthy and cumbersome for this image would be “An illustration of an earth deity who is casting spells with a crystal ball while orange and black butterflies fly around it. In the background is a dessert, and on the deity’s head is a TV featuring a wolf’s face.” While this description is detailed, it can be confusing and overwhelming for the viewer.
A more effective alternative would be to use only the essential elements that capture the image’s essence. For example, “Earth deity with crystal ball and TV on head featuring wolf face.”
Consider including a photo ID in the caption if you feel you need more space to describe the image. More on that later.
Maintain the relevance of your alt text
This one should be obvious. But unfortunately, people often fill Instagram alt text with random hashtags or irrelevant jokes. Relevance is important here. Writing irrelevant Instagram alt text can be confusing for the platform and may eventually backfire on you.
Make sure your Instagram alt text is genuine and relevant to the image or video being displayed. For example, here’s a picture of a pug holding a basketball. It is not Stephen Curry, the NBA legend.
“Steph Curry NBA tickets now on sale at www.sportstickets.com,” for example, could be incorrect Instagram alt text.
This is obviously spammy, and the viewer has no idea what the picture is about.
Some Instagram users prefer to use photo IDs and Instagram alt text to provide a more detailed description of their posts.
Instagram photo IDs are brief descriptions that appear at the bottom of Instagram captions. They add another layer of information for screen-reading programs to use when identifying an Instagram post.
Note: Instagram alt text and photo IDs are two different types of alternative text. They should be used as much as possible in conjunction with one another.
Instagram photo IDs offer the benefit of including more details that cannot fit in the Instagram alt text.
Feel free to express yourself here. Instagram photo IDs can include the following:
- More context for the Instagram post
- Image descriptive information
- A more imaginative approach to storytelling (optional)
If you’re using a carousel, be certain to provide each individual post an ID.
Note: Separate image IDs and alt text should be used. Do not use the same text in both places.
Make sure to add any text in your post’s image to the alt text as well. Screen readers and other assistive technologies can’t read words in images, so they must be included differently.
The ideal Instagram alt text should provide relevant information in a concise manner.
Screen readers will struggle to understand a description if it is too long, uses difficult vocabulary, or contains irrelevant information. Search engines will also have difficulty determining what it is about.
Similarly, avoid phrases like the picture of, video of, or photo of, and instead concentrate on describing the scene. There is no need to remind users that Instagram is a visual platform.
For example, alt text like “photo of mountains at sunset” for this image does not provide useful context. “Snow-topped craggy mountains splashed with orange light at sunset” is better.
Your Instagram audience is probably aware that your post is either a photo or a video. So don’t waste their time with filler words that don’t accurately describe the content.
Using too many keywords in Instagram alt text can be counterproductive, and may even harm your SEO. When the alt text contains a string of disjointed keywords, it can be confusing for both search engines and users. Instead, incorporate relevant keywords naturally into the alt text, without overdoing it.
For instance, if you’re a beauty blogger like @haircarewithsmoya, you might be tempted to include hair care, fashion, and beauty-related keywords in every post. However, this may not always be necessary or appropriate. Try to find creative ways to incorporate relevant keywords, even if it’s only partially, and when they fit naturally into the alt text.
The alt text for this post could be: “somya sits on a white carved chair in the sunset, her healthy long hair flowing behind her.”
In this case, the alt text could be “somya strikes a fashion pose in a long leopard print dress.”
Finally, make sure to not repeat information that the Instagram post already explicitly states. Screen readers always read captions aloud, so including the same phrasing in your alt text is pointless.
For instance, if the Instagram post includes a caption that describes what’s in the image, there’s no need to use that description as alt text verbatim. Instead, be inventive and come up with a different description of what is shown in the image or video.