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Ali Soudi

3 Best Practices for GIF Engine Optimization (GEO)

December 21, 2020

 - Head of Digital Marketing

Ali Soudi

Head of Digital Marketing
Search Engine Optimization

Article Overview

10min read

A close look at social media will reveal the growing popularity of animated GIFs (short for Graphics Interchange Format), which are part of the language of the web today. From comments on social media posts to personal messages and more, users commonly use it to express themselves. If you want to see a massive variety of GIFs on display from all over, simply search through Google images or through GIPHY, the second largest search engine in the world in terms of total searches. This GIF search engine serves over 10 billion GIFs per day across messaging and social media apps. While talking about GIF search engines, have you thought about how beneficial GIFs are for SEO? Are they more hype than usefulness? Let’s take a look.

What are GIFs?

Graphics Interchange Format or shortly termed as GIF is an animated image format developed back in the 1980s by a team at CompuServe, led by Steven Wilhite. It was built as a way to save memory when displaying images. A GIF image supports 8 bits per pixel with a maximum number of 256 colors able to be displayed at any one time. Aside from its memory-saving ability, GIF became hugely popular as it’s supported across applications and operating systems.

Added into personal messages as well as public content online, GIFs can convey emotions or situations in a more dynamic and entertaining format.

GIF Searching

Although GIF was created decades ago, it wasn’t until 2013 that Google received an explicit feature to conduct GIF searches. Later in 2019, Google added shareable GIFs to image search results that let users immediately share GIFs to different apps. Now, users can find GIFs quickly and easily.

Are GIFs Good Or Bad for SEO?

GIFs are a great way to keep users engaged on a page; especially a well-branded shareable GIF can survive for a long time in the meme ecosystem. They’re entertaining and can be very informative. It can be used to break up long articles and to add relatability to content. Though people like GIFs, make sure that you use your GIF by following proper guidelines.  They must be presented well so that they work for, instead of, against a page.

If your GIF can drive clicks and keep people engaged on a page as well-crafted images do, then GIFs can be good for SEO. But if your GIF is not presented properly – that is if you rely on them over text or make them too heavy – and if it’s slowing down your website, then it might affect your SEO. For example, an Aberdeen Group study found that around 40% of visitors abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. It also found that a one-second delay sees a 7% drop in conversions. Therefore, make sure that your GIFs are not causing any delays to load your website; else it can turn bad for SEO. Also make sure that your GIFs meet accessibility guidelines, or else it can be bad for accessibility.

Instead of taking unnecessary chances, why not optimize GIFs and let them work their magic?

What is GIF Engine Optimization (GEO?)

GIF Engine Optimization (GEO) is the process of creating and optimizing GIFs to rank highly in organic search results on a GIF search engine – such as GIPHY and Tenor. GIF search engines work in much the same way as any other search engine works. That is, when a user searches for a keyword, GIPHY serves the user a feed of GIFs to choose from based on what it considers to be the most relevant content.

However, if you want your GIF to rank higher, you need to create as well as optimize your GIFs in order to match search intent. Similar to traditional SEO practices, GEO also uses a lot of the same tactics. Among them, 3 best practices for GEO include:

1. Keyword Research: Researching the keywords which are relevant to your brand that have high search volumes as well as low competition.

2. Content Planning and Creation: You have to plan and create your content to rank for specific long-term keywords which are pertinent to your brand. For creating GIFs, you can use GIPHY too.

3. Implementation: While uploading a GIF to your preferred search engine, tag your GIF with relevant keywords.

Few other ways to optimize your GIFs include:

1. Use your product/service images to create unique GIFs.

2. Use descriptive filenames.

3. Create a proper alt-text that flows with your content.

4. Place your GIFs towards the top of a page, and insert them near relevant text.

5. Add GIFs to your image sitemap using image tags to ensure Google knows exactly where they are.

6. To prevent GIFs from slowing down your site, use image compression sites to reduce their size.

7. Use lossy compression to help your web pages load faster. While it reduces the quality of GIFs, people won’t be able to notice the difference.

8. Make sure your GIFs are fast, responsive, and have good URL structures.

9. Convert your GIFs to MP4 videos or HTML5 videos to make them smaller.

Unlike non-digital and digital ads, GIFs are highly helpful when it comes to marketing as they are easier to communicate than words and offer an uninterrupted experience. GIF Search engines like GIPHY allow you to see your view count, which helps you to understand which GIFs are performing and the content to create for your next campaign.

However, as with any dynamic content, too many GIFs on a website will slow it down. This, in turn, can harm search rankings. So, rather than placing numerous GIFs, be strategic, and choose wisely. Adopt the best GIF practices to improve SEO and watch them attract users. 

Ali Soudi

Head of Digital Marketing

is a Google Certified Digital Marketer with 10+ years of industry experience. He is a prolific writer on business-related topics, regularly contributing articles to leading digital marketing and business websites.

Ali Soudi

Head of Digital Marketing
Search Engine Optimization
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