Customized alt text tags for posts is a fairly new development in Instagram. Alt text tags can’t be seen by the average Instagram user, but they can be read by search engines, providing SEO value to your school marketing.
Adding alt tags is a key strategy for growing your Instagram account. Alt text tags will increase the chances that your target audience will find your network, and they will improve the accessibility of your posts.
Why Are Alt Text Tags Important?
There are four key reasons why alt text tags are important. On every computer you can find the ALT key (or an Option key if you are using Apple products.) The ALT stands for alternative. There are several important reasons you should consider writing alt tags for your Instagram images and graphics.
Alternative text for when there’s trouble loading images
Alt tags help people who are experiencing trouble with their internet connection to see a brief description of what the image or graphic is about.
Alternative text for people who are visually-impaired
People who are visually impaired have a tough time on the internet unless there are alt tags that can be read by a special device or phone that is capable of reading the alt tags. This could open new doors to a potential parent who otherwise might not know enough about your school to inquire about it.
Alt text tags give the Instagram algorithm more information
Instagram’s algorithm tries to recognize what each photo or graphic is about. Once it thinks it knows (and it’s really smart) it will search for new people to show your image to. This amounts to free targeting for your school.
Alt text tags improve your search engine optimization (SEO)
Alt tags in Instagram help your postings – and website pages by extension – improve SEO rankings.
Alt tags help your Instagram account grow. If you don’t add in your own alt tags, Instagram will try to guess and create them for you. Chances are, you know your school and marketing content better than the Instagram algorithm.
How to Write Alt Text Tags
The idea behind alt text tags is to write a mini-description of what your image or graphic is about. Here are some tips for writing alt text tags:
- Keep them short. Instagram has limited the number of characters to 100, so keep your alt tags under that number.
- Use emojis. Screen readers can read emojis, so use them to save much-needed character space.
- Include relevant keywords, but don’t go overboard with keyword stuffing. Use one or two keywords, but don’t use a string of keywords stuck together.
- Use normal speech patterns that make sense to humans. When it comes to today’s algorithms, context is everything.
- Describe the content and context of the image. Include branding elements like your school name, location and context of image if possible.
- Don’t use the words “image of” or “photo of”. Instagram knows it’s an image and those characters are wasted space.
How to Add Alt Text Tags to New Instagram Posts
You can add alt text tags directly to your Instagram posts where you write your caption and add any other tags to the post.
Here’s how you do it:
Click on Advanced Settings and then go to Write Alt Text. On the next screen you’ll see the image you’re tagging and a text box where you can write your alt text description. Add your alt text in the box and click on Save. Click here to learn how to write Instagram captions that will increase engagement for your school.
How to Add Alt Text Tags to Instagram Posts You’ve Previously Published
You can go back and add alt text to Instagram posts that have already published, select the post and manually edit it. To edit the post, click on the three-dot button in the top-right corner of the post.
From the pop-up screen, click on the Edit option to open the editing screen. Once you’re in the edit mode, you’ll see the Aa icon and Edit Alt Text in the bottom-right corner of the image. Tap on this button to access the alt text screen.
From there, type in your descriptive alt text. Click on Save to save your edits. Once you’re back on the main edit screen for your post, click on the blue check mark in the top-right corner to save your changes and the new alt text for that post.
When to Add Alt Text on Instagram
The Instagram algorithm automatically adds alt text to all photos that are uploaded in order to improve the platform. The algorithm description uses object recognition and AI tools to determine what’s in the photo and provide a generic description of the post. Want to learn how to optimize images for better websites, social media and SEO? Click here to learn more.
While machine learning has come a long way, at this time the descriptions aren’t very illustrative and lack context. For this reason, you should edit and add your own custom alt text.
Ideally, you should add alt text to all of your Instagram posts. Every time you upload a new post to Instagram you should include your alt text, making it a part of your regular posting process. For older posts, it may be overwhelming to go back and edit all of your content. Instead, focus on updating your most popular posts, especially the posts you want to appear in search results.
The addition of alt text tags to Instagram posts demonstrates the value of visual content as well as the SEO benefit of social media. Instagram continues to be an important social network for school outreach efforts and alt tags will help a new audience find and engage with your posts.
As alt text tags become more common, the need to customize each post will be an essential step to increase searchability and grow your Instagram network.
Have you started adding alt text tags to your Instagram posts? Will you start using alt text tags after reading this post? Please share your thoughts and tips with the school marketing community in the comments below.