Using Gif Content Without Hurting Your SEO - Hints From Semalt
GIFs have shown us a new and interesting way to communicate via the Internet. Have you ever considered including it on your website? If you have or if you're planning to, this article is the perfect tool you need. Semalt will be showing you the pros and cons of using GIFs as well as educate you on what benefits they could have for SEO.
With the internet becoming so much more interactive, developers have come up with an excellent way to create short videos that require a very little amount of bandwidth, which gives visual representations to conversations. GIFs have slowly become one of the many languages used on the internet today. If you search through Google images, you will come across massive varieties of GIFs on display from all over the world.
Since we use GIFs so much in our conversations, can we use it in public content?
What are GIFs?
According to Google search, GIFs are a lossless format for an image file supporting both animated and still images. Unlike what you may be thinking, GIFs have been in existence for close to a century. GIFs experienced a significant surge during the 1980s.
We find GIFs to be so important because they can express emotions or scenarios in a more dynamic and entertaining format. As we're sure you've seen, GIFs have been used as excellent tools to make us laugh or express emotions better.
Where did GIFs come from?
GIFs were created by Steve Wilhite at CompuServe built the GIFs to save memory when displaying images. The team at Wilhite had figured out a way to display images using a compression algorithm on the images and to limit the number of colors on the image.
Their genius algorithm worked by identifying repeating patterns in these images, and it made GIFs great at creating high performing and photorealistic images. From this point, they realized that multiple versions of images are included in a file and string them along to create a looping video.
Unisys Corp, the company that owned the GIFs algorithm, started charging royalties for GIFs in 1995. Their patent for GIFs didn't run out until 2003. However, Google in 2001 developed Google images to find and use GIFs, but it didn't get an explicit feature to search for GIFs until 2013. In 2019, Google took using GIFs a step further by adding the sharable GIFs feature to its search results.
Are GIFs crawled by Google?
Yes, indeed, GIFs properly placed in webpages get crawled by Google's algorithms. At this point, Google reads GIFs the same way it crawls images that have been added to webpages. Google tries to place a greater focus on being able to search for GIFs and share them through Google images.
Google image optimization techniques are what you need to focus on if you want to ensure that your GIFs get crawled, parsed, and indexed.
Will using GIFs help my SEO?
Well, if it has no way of helping you rank and index better, we wouldn't be discussing it. So yes, GIFs are another way to help improve your SEO performance. Think of GIFs as images placed on your webpages. If done right, GIFs can have not just the same but, in some cases, better effects on your SEO. They are an excellent way to drive traffic and keep people engaged on your page.
Having a sharable and well-branded GIFs can also survive for a long time in the meme ecosystem giving viewers more reasons to revisit your webpage. Internet users enjoy using GIFs, and they are the perfect excuse to develop breaks in long article texts. In addition to these, GIFs also make content more relatable to the readers.
Are GIFs bad for SEO?
As long as you use GIFs in the correct manner, they aren't bad for SEO. It is also important you ensure that when using GIFs, you do not let them slow down your website. When you rely on GIFs more than texts for your content or use heavy GIFs, you reduce the speed of your webpages. Using GIFs inappropriately can also be bad for your accessibility. Because of that, you need to make sure that your GIFs meets accessibility guidelines.
How to fix GIFs on your website
Here are some ways to ensure that the GIFs on your site does more good than harm.
- Customize your GIFs file names.
- Use unique GIFs.
- Write good alt texts to help searchers, as well as search engines, find your GIFs.
- You can ass GIFs to your image sitemap as a way to ensure that Google knows exactly where to find them. By using descriptive filenames and alt texts, the GIFs added to your webpages can blend and flow better with the surrounding text on the page.
- Since you want your GIFs to get indexed by search engines, you should optimize the GIF's placement near relevant texts and on top of the page.
- Your GIFs should be able to load quickly, be responsive, and should have a good URL structure.
Get some meta on metadata
Google has no way of knowing what is playing behind your GIFs, and they don't have eyes to see the images being displayed as GIFs. The only way you can help Google understand your GIFs is by using the proper alt tags, descriptive file name, relevant image contexts, images, and associated links.
By following Google, best practice guidelines to images may be the suggested best approach to using GIFs. However, there are some conflicts with that and what some users have come to love about GIFs contents.
For example, one of Google's best practices for GIFs images says that you shouldn't include on-image texts since it wouldn't be indexed. Therefore, if this text adds any content, the content is lost to search engine bots. But what if there was a way to get around this? If you want to bypass this rule, all you need to do is have a descriptive caption.
Users rely on limited alt descriptions, and so does Google; they also need the file name and the surrounding content elements to find out what GIFs are about. Hence, you can stay ahead of the GIFs pack by ensuring those elements are good. You should ensure that your Alt-text flows with your content keeping accessibility in mind. Once you're able to meet these criteria, Google will be able to pick up on your GIFs and index them appropriately.
How to optimize your GIFs
There are a couple of methods you use to speed up your GIFs.
- The first is Lossy compression
- Lossless optimization
By using image compression sites and photoshops, you can cleanly reduce the size of your GIFs and speed up the speed of your web page.
- Lossy compression: it is an art of making your GIFs worse in a way that people do not notice to make them faster. GIFs quality will worsen, but this will significantly improve the speed of your webpages.
- Lossless optimization: this method doesn't require any pixels, colors, or information in your GIFs to be removed. However, it wouldn't be as fast as GIF-files that have been lossily optimized.
- It wouldn't be difficult to find great compression software as there are dozens of online tools that can help you compress your images.
- Another hack would be to convert your GIFs into APNG files to keep the color quality and for better file size.
- Use better settings when saving your GIFs in Photoshop. This helps your site speed.
- GIFs can also be converted to an HTML5 video.
- GIFs can be converted to MP4 videos and then set up in web videos. This ensures the loop and plays automatically and that they remain silent (just like GIFs).
Warning. GIFs go-getters should beware. You should remember that if there are too many forms of dynamic content on a website, it becomes a problem as the website begins to load much slower than websites with a more streamlined nature of contents.
A site made up of thousands of GIFs has the potential of experiencing lags as it loads regardless of how they are presented with metadata or otherwise. At this stage, it is important you avoid anything that affects the speed of your site negatively as it will harm your ranking.
With this in mind, Semalt helps you balance the competing interests of users and search engines to keep the website in perfect equilibrium.
On a general note, GIFs are great. When used effectively, they have the potential to increase engagement on a piece of content or post. GIFs are good for users and increase the traffic to your site as it keeps your visitors entertained.
All of these factors work together and send indirect thumbs-up to Google, affirming that your website is performing as expected. With that being said, you should take care and not get GIFs crazy. At the end of the day, you need to ensure that your website is still available for Google to index our content as it would if GIFs weren't on your website. You can do this by hiring Semalt to help you improve your website. We are experienced professionals who know what to do and when to do it on your website. With our services, your website can get to the first page of SERP and dominate it. Give us a call today.