3 Steps For Optimizing GIFs for Search

Animated GIFS have been a part of Internet culture for years. They’re a quick, effective way to convey emotion on social media. They’re entertaining, they’re easy to digest, and they’re attention-grabbing.

Not surprisingly, businesses are increasingly using GIFS as a marketing tool, with varying degrees of success. They’re a lot like memes in that regard. For every brand that understands how to use and optimize them, there several that don’t.

We’ll cover the intricacies of creating great GIFs in a later piece. Today, we’re going to focus on the foundation. On how you can optimize your GIFs for search. 

First, Do Your Homework

The process of GIF search engine optimization is fairly involved. That’s because GIFs occupy a strange space where media is concerned. While they aren’t quite as dynamic as full-fledged video, there’s enough to them that they need to be treated with a bit more care than static photos.

Bearing that in mind, you’ll want to treat each GIF as standalone content from an SEO perspective. That means researching relevant, branded keywords before you start creating. It means planning each GIF around a particular mood, emotion, or idea that you know will resonate with your audience.

But perhaps more importantly, it means tapping into a search engine that isn’t Google. 

Look Into GIF Search Engines

As noted by the marketing publication Search Engine Journal, there are two major GIF search engines on the web; GIPHY and Tenor. The former is by far the largest of the two. It’s actually the second largest search engine in the world by total searches, according to GIPHY co-founder Alex Chung

In other words, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with GIPHY. Take your keyword research and refine it by searching and seeing what GIFs appear for each keyword on that search engine. You’d also do well to familiarize yourself with GIPHY’s Brand Channels, which allow you to create and distribute branded content through the search engine, ranking more organically for branded keywords. 

Don’t Forget Your Metadata

Per Search Engine Journal, Google is still a bit unclear on how its search engine engages with and understands GIFs. For that reason, you’ll want to ensure the metadata for your GIFs is completely filled out. That includes alt text, description, and other context elements on your page.

While we’re on the topic, we’d also advise using a tool like GZip Compression to reduce the amount of space and memory your GIFs take up. 

In Closing, Use GIFs Sparingly

Like any rich media, GIF content should not be overused. You don’t want your website to end up looking like a Buzzfeed article flooded with animated images, nor do you want your brand’s social channels to devolve into a cavalcade of four-second animations. At the same time, by understanding the intricacies of GIF SEO, you can tap into an incredibly powerful marketing channel. 

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