How to Use GIF Engine Optimization

by Federica Rustico

10 min read
Last Updated: December 30, 2022

We all use them. They’re funny, they’re quick to send and they express how we feel in a way that simple texting just won’t. I’m talking about Gifs, those trippy animated images constantly shared on social media and messaging apps. While you’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimization and how to implement SEO best practices to get ranked on search engines like Google, there’s a new kid on the block that should be getting your attention: Gif Engine Optimization.

Why? Because implementing Gif SEO allows your content to get ranked on Gif search engines like GIPHY and Tenor. If you haven’t already heard of them, it’s time I enlighten you. Because right after Google, GIPHY is the second largest search engine worldwide for total searches. So if you’re not creating and optimizing GIF content to rank for keywords that are meaningful for your brand, you’re missing out on some serious exposure. Let me show you how to use Gif engine optimization to start dominating search results on GIF search engines. 

What is a Gif?

A GIF, or a Graphics Interchange Format, is simply an image format, just like a png or a jpeg, but with a special superpower: it is animated. Invented in 1987 by Steve White, Gifs are made up of a number of sequential images that together create an animated image. 

How do people use Gifs?

People mainly use them on social media and messaging apps like Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok. But how? GIPHY and Tenor have their own websites where you can browse GIFs on. But it doesn’t stop there, chances are that your phone’s keyboard includes the GIPHY or Tenor keyboard, allowing you to share GIFs with your friends with just a simple click. These search engines have created APIs that allow you to integrate their library of GIFs pretty much anywhere you like, which is just all the more reason why you need to start implementing Gif SEO immediately. 

How to use Gif engine optimization

Why do people use Gifs?

GIFS have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and for good reason. People use GIFS all over social media and messaging apps to react to events, express emotions and simply communicate in the digital world. They’ve also become one of the main tools for web humor, along with memes and viral videos. And of course, consumer brands leverage them as a marketing channel. 

What is Gif engine optimization (GEO)?

Now that you understand how important and widely used this revolutionary image format is, it’s time to understand how to harness Gif SEO to rank higher in organic search results on GIF search engines like Tenor and GIPHY. Just like Google wants to show you the most accurate results to a specific search query, GIPHY and Tenor want to show you the most relevant GIFS based on your keywords. Meaning that if you start integrating GEO, your Gifs will start ranking higher, earning you that extra exposure, skyrocketing your brand awareness. 

For all SEO experts out there, you’ll find that many of the same best practices used in SEO apply to GEO: 

Keywords: in order to optimize your Gifs for GEO you have to consider the keywords which best represent your content. To increase your chances of getting ranked, try to find keywords that have a low competition but a high search volume. 

Create content based on keywords: now that you’ve researched the keywords that give you the best chance of getting ranked, it’s time to create content for those keywords! GIPHY and Tenor like to see content that is relevant to your business. If you’re a fashion brand it’s unlikely that you will create Gifs about food (unless you sell Chef clothes)!

How to use gif engine optimization

Tags: Customize your GIF file names with relevant keywords before uploading them to a Gif search engine and don’t forget to add tags that people search for. 

Compress your GIFs: integrating GIFs on your website or blog is a great way to engage your audience, but make sure they aren’t too heavy or they’ll slow down your site speed. 

How to optimize your gifs for Gif SEO

It all sounds pretty straightforward and easy to implement, right? But don’t be too hasty, before you start uploading hundreds of random Gifs on GIPHY, make sure you follow these simple steps.

1. Create a verified brand channel

This is the first step that’s separating you from reaching hundreds of thousands of people with your Gifs. And luckily for you, it’s free and easy to set up. First things first, you need to create a GIPHY account, upload at least 5 gifs and then all you need to do is apply for a brand channel. To do so, you’ll need a company email address with a company domain name (gmail accounts are not accepted); a username that reflects the name of your business (FYI don’t include numbers, special characters or underscores in the username); a company website for your application (social media accounts are not valid in this field); a 250x250 avatar; and the link to your social profile that best represents your brand (if you have a verified account, use it in your application). After you’ve submitted your application, it will take around 2 - 14 days until you get verified. The whole point of these requirements is to make sure that you’re an actual company and that you have a bit of social media traction. 

How to use gif engine optimization

2. Keyword research

Now that you have a verified account, it’s time to start laying out your strategy! And when I say strategy, I mean keyword research. The GIPHY algorithm sounds like it’s a piece of cake but the problem is always the same: competition. Let me give you an example: if you are a sports brand and you want to upload a sports related GIF, the chances you’ll actually rank high for the “sports” keyword are pretty low. Why? Over 183k results appear on GIPHY for the keyword “sports”. While you’ll still want to include the “sports” keyword for your Gif, you’ll want to prioritize keywords with less search volumes to have a better chance of ranking higher. Something like “running” or “winner”. 

In general, you’ll want to include keywords that are relevant to your content and that are descriptive. You’ll also want to include a few keywords related to your brand – although don’t expect they’ll bring any exposure…when it comes to Gifs, most people won’t be searching for your brand but for a specific product or feeling. As a matter of fact, in addition to your branded keywords, think about keywords that are related to your product and the emotions associated with your product. For example, if you have a sports brand, you’ll want to include how you want people to feel when wearing your products, like “champion”, “athlete” or “fit”.

After you have a list of the keywords you want to include, it’s time to do some research on how difficult it will be to rank for those keywords. You can do this in various ways and you don’t necessarily need to research search volumes on both GIPHY and Tenor, one will do the trick as 99% of the time keywords are equally competitive on both gif search engines. 

But what do you do if all your keywords have a high competition? Again, what would a SEO expert do? Find more specific keywords! This allows you to discover keywords that are less competitive but that give you the opportunity to rank higher. The easiest way to do this is open up GIPHY, type in your keyword and see the total number of GIFs that exist for your specific keyword. Tenor doesn’t give access to this kind of information but GIPHY does. At this point, you’re probably wondering what is considered high competitiveness and what is low, correct? Let’s create three different categories: low (less than 2,500), medium (2,500 - 10,000), or high (more than 10,000). 

Bear in mind that when you type in a keyword to check how competitive it is, you’ll want to type in a single word with no spaces. That’s because GIPHY doesn’t read spaces and it wouldn’t make a distinction between a compound or single word. Another great way to pick out keywords is to study what your competitors are doing (as always)!

3. Create your Gifs

Now that you’ve understood the importance of keywords and you have a list of the ones you want to use for your Gifs it’s time to get creative! This goes without saying but don’t even think about creating content that has nothing to do with your keywords. GIF search engines use image recognition technology to scan GIF content and understand what a GIF is about. This is why the keywords you’ve picked up truly need to be related to the content you’re creating. 

How to use GIF engine optimization

Never forget what GIFs are all about: fun ways to express emotions. So flaunt your brand’s personality in a way that engages and captivates your target audience. And just like with SEO, it takes knowing your target audience and what they want to be able to perform well on GIF search engines. So where do you go to create your Gifs? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a wizard, just visit to get started. 

5. Compress your Gifs

Just like Google takes into consideration site speed when ranking your content, GIPHY and Tenor don’t want your GIFs to take ages before they load. With 5G taking over the world, who wants to wait around for a GIF to load? Exactly. 

I’ll put it in perspective for you: most of the time we have to compress static image formats like jpegs and pngs, imagine how heavy an animated image like a GIF can be. I’ll tell you – they may even be heavier than a video file. So all you have to do to make sure your GIF shows up for a specific search term is make the file smaller, or in tech jargon, compress your GIF. You can either use lossy compression or lossless compression to reduce file size. 

5. Upload your Gifs

Now that you’ve done all the work, it’s time to upload your GIFs to the GIF search engines. As you’re uploading your GIFS, you’ll be asked to insert your keywords. You can add as many keywords as you want but the sweet spot for GIF SEO is 10. 

From now on, don’t forget to add your branded keywords to every GIF you upload. This will allow people that are searching for your brand on GIPHY or Tenor to easily find and share your content. If you forget to add an important keyword you can always go back and add it. But it’s best to do this process once, when you upload your GIF, since the search engine will crawl your content and test its performance on organic search results.  

Based on how your GIFs perform, a.k.a. how many views and shares they receive, the GIF search engine will either pump them up on search results or downgrade them for each keyword. 

The value of GIF SEO

So, let’s answer the million dollar question: should you spend time creating and optimizing GIFs? Absolutely. If you decide to pass this form of marketing, know that you’re missing out. Investing time in developing a GIF engine optimization strategy increases your brand awareness without interrupting the user experience. Just think about it, instead of spending time and money promoting your brand through ads, GIFs allow potential customers to interact with your brand and to promote it themselves! 

Plus, let’s not forget about numbers: more than 10 billion GIFs are served every day. Sure, GIFs have been around for over 30 years now, but GIF marketing is fairly new and based on how widely they’re used, it’s safe to say they’re going to continue growing. 

If your brand invests in brand awareness campaigns and values metrics such as impressions, it is time to dive into GIF marketing. If, instead, you’re a small brand or a company that doesn’t value impressions or brand awareness as much, I still urge you to start creating GIFs. They’re a great way to engage with friends, colleagues and customers in emails, messages and social media, and give your brand a humorous edge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are GIFs good for SEO?

Yes, GIFs can be good for SEO. Search engines can read GIFs and their content, making them more likely to appear in search engine results. Additionally, GIFs are visually appealing and often elicit an emotional response, which can help to draw more attention to content and increase engagement. For this reason, using GIFs can be a great way to improve SEO and increase visibility.

What is GIF SEO?

SEO GIF is a technique where businesses use GIFs to help improve their search engine rankings. This is done by optimizing the GIFs with keywords and metadata. Doing this will help search engines to understand what the GIF is about, making it easier for potential customers to find. Additionally, using GIFs can also help to increase engagement, as GIFs are visually appealing and often elicit an emotional response from viewers.