Hey fellow Instagrammer, are you using alt texts at all?


Alt text? What the heck does that mean?

Lol, they’re those long-tail keyword-stuffed descriptions that tell Instagram what your photo is about. Doesn’t sound like something you might be interested in?

Oh, I doubt it! If you know all that you stand to benefit by simply using alt texts for your photos, I’m pretty sure you’d place more importance on them.

So, please do yourself the favor of reading this post till the end!

What are alt texts?

Alternative texts, or alt texts as they’re known for short, are a block of texts displayed instead of an image when that image doesn’t come up. Usually, they’re used by search engines to display the details of content to viewers in the event that:

  • The viewer’s internet connection is too slow to load an image.


  • The viewer is using a browser designed for the visually-impaired.

Why should you use alt texts?

The simple reason why you should concern yourself with alt texts is because Instagram is now a major search engine. And like other major search engines (Google, YouTube), users can search for things like tags, people, and places simply by typing in a hashtag.

But what exactly has alt text got to do with any of this? Well, we love to think of alt text as the simple SEO tool of Instagram. Alt text is what the Instagram algorithm uses to detect and categorize content (reason why the platform automatically generates alt texts for every content published on it even when the creator has refused to add one).

So when someone searches – using the search bar – for something on Instagram, the platform returns answers to them based on the keyword (hashtag) they’ve entered into the search bar. Now, if the keyword they’ve searched for is a part of your image’s alt text, you can expect your photo to pop up as one of the responses to the search queries.

Now, imagine the number of search queries that happen on Instagram every day. If someone is able to create an effective alt text, how many automatic Instagram likes, comments, and views do you think such a person will get from random Instagram explorers?

Countless!!! So you see, there is much to gain by adding alt texts to your content on IG.

The only question is, “How can you create an effective alt text?” Don’t worry yourself answering that, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out how!

PS: Alt texts also have the added advantage of expanding your content’s discoverability beyond Instagram.

Target a particular keyword

Like we mentioned earlier, alt texts are the SEO extension of Instagram. So it makes sense to include a keyword when creating them. However, you need to be sure that the keyword is something relevant to the image in question. For example, let’s say your post is about a football game, there is no point filling your alt text with a keyword like “sport,” “football,” or “Premier League.” Instead, use a post-specific or post-related keyword like the name of a major player in that football match or the title of the matchup itself (Liverpool vs. Arsenal 19/20 season).

Don’t copy-paste your captions

There is a reason why Instagram created the caption bar differently from the alt text. So don’t make the mistake of adding the same block of texts into the two bars.

Why? Because captions are meant to captivate readers and probably tell them a little more about an image. Alt texts, however, are the textual summary of an image – the piece that explains to Instagram algorithms what your content is all about.

For example, let’s say you use the word “Mark” as the caption of a post about your Goldendoodle dog #Mark and use the same word in the alt text bar. There is no way Instagram will be able to categorize and crawl your post when someone comes to search for the hashtag #cutegoldendoodles because your alt text hasn’t signified anything related to Goldendoodles. It has, however, talked about “Mark,” a keyword that could be referring to the name of a bar, person, book, or even a mobile app.

Focus on what you want people to remember about your photo

There is no need to fill your alt text bar with stories. Just go straight to the point about everything you feel people need to know about the image.

By and large, just point out the most important details.

Be specific with your choice of words

The alt text bar is not a place to become the next Shakespeare. Nobody wants to read your grammar! Just explain in detail the true definition of your image. If it’s a post about a puppy, mention the word puppy as many times as possible. If there are two people sitting next to each other, mention that “there are two people sitting next to each other.” No need to try to be creative with words. Just call the spade the spade!

Don’t ignore the text

If there is a text or quote on the image you’ve posted, do not hesitate to add it to the alt text.

Mention its uniqueness

There’s got to be something unique about your photo. If there wasn’t, you wouldn’t have felt the need to share it on Instagram in the first place. So, find out what’s unique about your post and mention it in the alt text.

Perhaps it’s a summer holiday on the white sands of Miami Beach, a black and white early morning pose, or a night out in a black, stretch Limo.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.