Technical SEO

SEO for Animated GIFs

An animated GIF is a graphic with multiple images that loop one after another, creating motion. The format is popular for social media memes, but GIFs also appear on commercial web pages to provide instructions or showcase a product.

Why Animated GIFs?

  • Animated GIFs provide unique content to a page, helpful for search engine optimization.
  • Animated GIFs convey simple information quickly and engage users with instructions or explanations that might otherwise bore them. For example, on Shopify animated GIFs can show different angles of a product, including a 360-degree view.
  • Clicking (or tapping) a GIF sends a user to a linked page, as in a sales funnel. Clicking a video only pauses it.
  • Creating animated GIFs is easy with any number of free online tools, such as EZGif. It can convert any video, with settings to select frames, loop them, and adjust their speed. fhpcn
Screenshot of an animated GIF at Memobottle

The image at left is an animated GIF. It appears on Memobottle, a Shopify-powered seller of reusable bottles.

SEO for Animated GIFs

Optimizing an animated GIF for organic search rankings is more or less the same as an image. Google can understand the meaning of many images. But adding text remains helpful for sending relevant signals.

  • Start with an image file. Insert alt text and an image title, as search-engine crawlers read both fields. Choose keywords carefully.
  • An image title is not mandatory but doesn’t hurt, and titles are displayed on mouse-over (as tool-tip text) in most desktop browsers. Thus a title could be a call to action, such as “Learn more about this product.”
  • Include an image caption, as it provides readable text for humans.

The biggest hurdle with animated GIFs is large file sizes, which slow down a page. Compressor is a free tool to minimize GIF files, making them much lighter.

Still, use only one animated GIF per page, even if it’s compressed. Remember, too, that there’s no way to pause or listen to a GIF, making it difficult for vision-impaired users on screen readers. Hence accompany an instructional GIF with a video for that reason.


Usability benefits.

  • Animated GIF. Fast way to provide instructions and showcase a product.
  • Static image. Visualize a lot of data, eye-catching, and easy to read.
  • Video. Helpful for longer tutorials and how-tos.

SEO benefits.

  • Animated GIF. Adds relevant content to a page and engages users.
  • Static image. Adds relevant content to a page and engages users.
  • Video. Engages users.

Usability hurdles.

  • Animated GIF. Inaccessible to vision impaired and other users. Difficult for some to follow.
  • Static image. Inaccessible to vision impaired users without alt text.
  • Video. Inaccessible to vision impaired users unless narrated.

SEO hurdles.

  • Animated GIF. Can slow down a page unless GIF is compressed.
  • Static image. Can slow down a page unless image is compressed.
  • Video. Embedded third-party videos can slow down a page.

SEO tactics.

  • Animated GIF. Use a descriptive alt text with keywords. Compress the GIF to load faster.
  • Static image. Use descriptive alt text and file names — with keywords. Compress the image to load faster.
  • Video. Use lazy-loading for embedded videos for faster page loads.

In short, animated GIFs can diversify your content, provided they are not overused.

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty
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