SEO best practices
when using GIFs

Optimize your GIF content for more search results! Appropriate use of GIF allows your content to be popular, attracting more users and thereby more traffic!
Whether dynamic GIF content is a good choice? Whether GIFs are good or bad for SEO?

Have a look at everything you need to know while using GIFs in your web content!

GIFs are usually part of the language of the web! This graphics interchange format is popular from BuzzFeed listicles to Twitter clapbacks!

What is GIF?

Search through Google images or Giphy, one of the largest GIF aggregator where you can see a huge variety of GIFs from the overall display!
An animated GIF is a type of media file inserted into personal messages or public content online! Most commonly pronounced as ‘jif’ or ‘gif’, it still remains as an argument online!
GIF images gained popularity during 1980s and it’s one of the best way to express emotions or other scenarios in an entertaining and dynamic format!
A quick Google search determines GIF as lossless format of image files that support both static and animated images!

History of GIF

GIF was built to save memory while displaying images! Steve Wilhite figured out GIF at CompuServe, the team found a unique way to serve these images by limiting the number of colors and using a compression algorithm!
Compression algorithm worked by identifying repeating patterns, this made GIFs great at creating high-quality photorealistic images!
Since the file has multiple images, you could easily string together these images into a looping video.
GIF had a storied history, where Unisys Corp owned GIF algorithm and started changing royalties in 1995!
Google image search came around 2001, but it didn’t have an option to search for GIFs until 2013! In 2019, Google came up with the shareable GIFs to search results!

How Google crawl GIFs?

Google utilize the same technique used to read other images. But GIF images get a greater focus while being on search and share through Google images!
Google image optimization technique make sure GIFs are getting parsed, crawled, and indexed!

Whether GIF is a good choice for SEO?

GIFs or every other well-crafted image can be good for SEO, because these images drive in clicks and keep your customers engaged on web page.
GIF are usually shared among people and obviously, well-branded GIFs survive for a long time in the meme ecosystem.
Using GIFs can break up the necessity of long articles; also add readability to your content with the help of quality GIF images!

Whether GIF is a bad choice for SEO?

As long as you present GIF images in a correct style, GIFs aren’t bad for SEO and don’t let them slow down your site!
GIFs can be bad, if you rely on them over text and making them too heavy. Make sure GIFs meet all the accessibility guidelines or else, it may affect SEO badly!

How to fix GIFs?

Customize your GIF filenames and make it unique. Most significantly write good alt-text for both people and SEO!
Add GIFs to your image sitemap and ensure Google knows its exact location! Google allows adding images to site map with the help of image tags!
Make sure to use descriptive filenames and alt text, also ensure that GIFs work with the surrounding text!
If you need your GIFs to be indexed well on Google images, then focus on optimizing the GIF’s placement by making it relevant or to the top of the page! Always, make your GIFs fast and responsive with good URL structures.

Use of Metadata

Google captures what’s playing behind rich media files with proper alt tags, descriptive file names, image captions, associated links, and relevant image contexts. Following Google’s best practice guidelines to images is encouraged, but there is conflict about people using GIF content!
For instance – Google’s best practice guidelines allow publishing images including GIF files but don’t include any on-image text, since it won’t get indexed on site! If it adds any context, the context is also lost!
You can overcome this by adding descriptive captions! Users mostly rely on limited alt descriptions, but Google relies on file names, surrounding page-context elements to find out about a GIF!
Stay ahead of GIFpack by making the elements good! Make sure your alt-text flow with the content with great accessibility! This allows Google to pick up and use your GIFs!

How to optimize GIF performance and core web vitals?

GIFs can slow down the performance of your web pages. With the help of Google’s increasing focus on core web vitals, it’s significant to keep the pages speedy! Use any image compression sites or photoshop to reduce the file size and obviously, speed up your web pages as well!
What are the ways to improve performance?
Couple of methods speed up the use of GIFs, they are

  • Lossless optimization
  • Lossy compression

Lossy compression – makes your GIFs worse that people don’t focus to make them faster. The GIF quality will be worse, but your web page will be faster!
Lossless optimization – this doesn’t remove any pixels, colors, or other information! So, it’s not as speed as other files that have been lossy optimized.
There are plenty of online tools that support image compression! There are options to convert your GIF into APNG file with more colors and better file size. While using better settings when saving GIF in photoshop create savings for site speed.
Users can easily convert GIF into an HTML5 video. The site has full guidance to convert GIFs into MP4 videos, then set them into web videos, making sure they play in a loop and automatically!
Using video allows better accessibility, providing a level of control over moving images. It’s more easily achieved with video than GIF!

Beware of GIF-go-getters

Keep in mind, how Googlebot crawls a website? In case of too many forms of dynamic content, the site may perform much slower than other sites without these forms.
If a site is loaded with plenty of GIFs, then it has a slow loading time that can harm your search engine results. Website owners should focus on balancing between the interest of users and search engines to keep the loading time slow while offering more entertaining and dynamic page content.
Even if page loading time is affected by a number of factors, the most common solution to GIF content conundrum is to reduce the size of the images.
Depending on the site, below listed are the few ways to reduce image size,

GZIP compression

GZIP compression is the common technique used for compression or deflating images that works up to 70% without reducing the image quality!
It’s implemented by web host on their servers! Use this test to know whether the site has been ‘GZipped’ by your web host!

Image optimization

Desktop tool like Photoshop or online web programs help to reduce the file size using the ‘save for web’ option.
This may decrease the image quality and as a result developers have to find a good spot between image size and quality.
Developers, who focus on reducing the image size with HTML, don’t create more space on the server. On the contrary, web browser would still have to load the original image size before resizing the image according to the assigned height and width.
Either way, it’s a great favor to your site or search engine by opting for GIF images over large image formats.

Accessibility issues in GIFs

Accessibility is a hot issue among GIF users, it crosses over with SEO. Good SEO practices help to increase accessibility and vice versa.
WCAG compliance ensure that users get access to your site comfortably without any trouble.
While using GIFs, they recommend setting animated GIFs to stop blinking after a certain number of times, may be 5 seconds or more.
Use HTML elements to provide quick information and easily pass WCAG criterion. HTML elements include

What are the Next-generation image formats?

Google support and promote nest-Gen image formats for better efficiency.
WebP is a major format that significantly reduces the image size while preserving their quality. WebP is both lossy and lossless.

Closing on GIF content

GIF content has the unique potential to increase customer engagement on a particular piece of content or post, but use it effectively for better results.
GIFs are usually considered as a good concept that drives in more traffic with less effort. All the above factors work together under the in-direct coordination of Google.
However, if you have gone GIF crazy, then make sure that Google can still index your content effectively, as it could do without GIF content. Make it possible by sharing necessary information about the content to Google!

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