Written by Beth Downey

In a previous blog, I discussed a few tactics to increase a website’s SEO. One approach I presented to increase Google ranking is including alt tags on images within a website. We’ve had this option for a few years now and it’s a cemented website SEO “best practice.”

Recently, I uploaded an image to Instagram and noticed this social media platform is now allowing the addition of alt-tags into their photo content, which is brilliant and necessary for accessibility and inclusion.

Alt tag inclusion on an instagram post

From Instagram:

“We are introducing two new improvements to make it easier for people with visual impairments to use Instagram … First, we’re introducing automatic alternative text so you can hear descriptions of photos through your screen reader when you use Feed, Explore and Profile. This feature uses object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers so you can hear a list of items that photos may contain as you browse the app.

Next, we’re introducing custom alternative text so you can add a richer description of your photos when you upload a photo. People using screen readers will be able to hear this description.”

The big question here for me and many other users is “will this increase my organic reach across Instagram viewers?” While I did search and didn’t find a definitive answer, everything done by social channels is for a reason. If the engineers built in alt text for users to include for better accessibility, I’m guessing there will be some sort of reward for it. A Vox post sheds some light:



“The story of how Instagram tweaks its algorithm, identifying content that’s most relevant or interesting to its users, has always been a little opaque, but we know object recognition is at least one part of the puzzle.” 

That leads one to believe that if you give the platform a little help in object recognition, you likely help your content.

linkedin alt tags on photoThe pivot to better inclusion isn’t limited to Instagram. This month, as I was updating the LinkedIn posts for Permelia Media, when adding a photo, I was given a prompt to add alt tags on that image. Mind you, LinkedIn and Instagram are owned by separate entities, so this isn’t a part of a company-wide mandate. Accessibility is not only important when selling, it’s important that everyone on social networks be able to “read” the web. And that hiring manager who you want viewing your LinkedIn profile, might be using a screenreader to find qualified candidates.

According to Recite Media, maker of accessibility software, “Globally there are an estimated 285 million people with a visual impairment of some kind and around 10-15% of the world’s population has dyslexia.” The smart money is here – to ignore 285 million people would be grossly irresponsible. A person might not have vision, but you better believe that person has spending power, not to mention might be the person who’s doing the hiring.