GIFs: Why Content Marketers Love Them and SEOs Hate Them

Channel Battles

Okay, that was a slightly misleading title. SEOs don’t hate GIFs, but they do have strong opinions on them. Although they might seem innocuous, GIFs can have an impact on important ranking factors like site speed, which is always going to get technical SEOs hot under the collar.   

Can our creative content marketers and our speed-obsessed SEOs compromise on this topic? Read on to find out…  

Should You Use GIFs in Blog Posts? 

Charlotte, Content Marketing and Outreach Executive:

“If a client with a fun brand voice asked me whether to use GIFs in their blog posts, I would say… yes! For a lot of clients, GIFs are a great way to easily add some personality into their content while breaking up large blocks of text in a more unique, eye-catching and engaging way than traditional images. 

Not only that, they’re easy to consume (perfect for the modern skim-reader) and can be used in innovative ways, such as calls to action. Plus, if you’re creative – or have a creative digital marketing agency – you can make your own GIFs featuring your product and employees.

While they work particularly well for clients with a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek tone of voice, other types of brands – from the BBC to charities – can make GIFs work for them as well. As with choosing the right imagery, choosing the right GIF is all about understanding how your business wants to communicate its message.”

Alex, Head of SEO and Content:

“From a personal perspective I’m a massive fan of GIFs and memes, but from a professional perspective I think there is a tendency to overuse most kinds of graphics. Graphics should be used to support or illustrate a point, not to render text obsolete. It can be easy to flood a blog post with GIFs and distract the reader from the message you really want to convey.

There are a few ways in which GIFs used in onsite blog posts are problematic for SEO. Embedding GIFs from third party sites like GIPHY creates unnecessary server requests, which reduces site speed. Hosting GIFs directly on the server takes up more space than a standard image and – depending on your CMS – can sometimes require developer input to upload and manage. 

With a little bit of forward thinking, we can always strike a balance between site speed and visual interest in a blog post. It’s important that an agency team doesn’t work in silos; it doesn’t reflect well if the Content team is actioning something that directly impacts on the SEO team’s efforts, and vice versa.”  

Go Forth and GIF

To GIF or not to GIF, that is the question. Luckily, you don’t have to choose one or the other. We’ve got a few recommendations that will have both content and SEO experts rejoicing.

  • GIFs are a great way to represent your brand voice – They can add personality and pizazz to your content. Take advantage of their versatility and uniqueness to set your business apart from the crowd, and use them to catch the eye of your target audience.
  • Use them sparingly – This is a good compromise for content marketers and SEOs alike. Instead of stuffing a blog post with 10 GIFs (and risking overloading the reader), consider only using one or two in places where they really fit.
  • Make your own – Showcase your brand’s creativity by making your own GIFs of your products, employees or services, and then consider only using GIFs you’ve created yourself in your blog posts. That way, you can ensure that your content isn’t inundated with GIFs (and slowing down site speed), while still injecting some fun and personality into the copy you’re creating.

via GIPHY

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Here at Passion Digital, we’ve got a wealth of experts in all areas of digital marketing, from our creative content marketers to our tech savvy SEO team. Get in touch with us today to discuss your online marketing goals and see how Passion can help you achieve them.

Still haven’t had your fill of channel battles? Good, neither have we! To check out our digital marketing experts fighting to the death (err, having a spirited discussion) over common issues that split opinion, have a look at our newest content series.