How does Giphy's algorithm work and what is Gif SEO (GEO)?
Carrie Rose Founder & CEO
8 min read
Sunday, 10th May 2020
Updated: Thursday, 13th January 2022
Gif SEO is a thing! Missguided's gif content has received 2.1 billion views and Gymshark receiving 125 million because of this!
Optimising your Gif content to rank #1 is unchartered territory for SO many brands, making it easy to own! Here's how...
"Carrie, I'm wondering if you can help? We've spent hundreds of thousands of £££ creating video, ad, and campaign content in the past, all to be used once and never again! What can we do with it so it doesn't go to waste?"
I've been asked this question a fair few times, with brands now more than ever looking at multi-platform marketing. And although there are quite literally SO many things you can do with already existing content, one of the most simplest answers is Giphy!
Did you know that Giphy is the second largest search engine in the world, by total searches? Over 10 billion images are served every single day!
Well if you are a brand with video content ranging from celebrity or expert interviews, Q and A sessions, office tours, staff socials, product shoots, behind the scenes campaign shots, or promotional ad content? and wondering what MORE you could be doing with it? Well, this article is for you!
Digital strategy is more important now than ever, with social media and SEO being at the heart or even forefront of it for many brands. But actually, some social media platforms are more of a game of
Like Google, Giphy works just like any other search engine with algorithms that decide which content to rank the highest in the search results. If you can get your gif content to rank for keywords that are meaningful to your brand, you could earn hundreds of millions of views and impressions.
We all spend our time reading and learning about how we implement the latest SEO strategies and tactics - so is GEO (GIF SEO) even worth your efforts and if so, how would you even implement it?
How do people use GIFs?
REMEMBER: Users don't just use gifs on Giphy.com, they also use gifs (from Giphy) on Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even slack. The number of gifs used every day is in the billions and this has doubled year on year. Giphy gifs reach 10 billion people a day – that's more than Twitter and Snapchat combined, and more than 25% of Instagram Stories now also contain a gif.
ROI is therefore mainly views and impressions - so although its rare that they drive traffic, it is a FREE way of getting your brand out there for consumers to see. Because of this, brands are more and more jumping on the Giphy bandwagon such as our own client Missguided, and Gymshark too.
Giphy is being leveraged as a serious marketing channel - but how can you do this too?
How to use Giphy as a marketing channel?
On Giphy - you can create and upload video content and make them into short gifs, to then be used hopefully by millions. But first, you need to create a brand channel. This is free and easy to set up but before your GIFs can be publicly available in search, you’ll need to have a verified brand channel, To get a verified brand Giphy channel, see here: verified GIPHY brand channel.
The application process is easy; you just need to prove you are a legitimate company, have a professional website, a modest social media following, and upload 5-10 original (quality) GIFs to your account. It typically takes 2-14 days to get verified and then you're ready to go across all platforms including social media.
How to optimise your gif content to get it to rank?
The mechanics of getting your content to rank at the top is actually quite simple but competition is high.
When you upload a gif, you get asked to add # tags relevant to the content and relevant to the keywords you want to rank for. You can add a maximum of 10 tags - so choosing which to focus on first is super important here. After all, you've spent this time creating the gifs - let's make sure people actually see and use them!
For example - say I'm looking for a gif that includes someone doing a "gym flex". You can see here that Gymshark dominates this search, with their branded gif ranking no.1 amongst 6,800+ gifs to choose from. As a result - they've landed 857,000 views from that one Gif! Oh, and you'll notice that it's near impossible to find a Gymshark gif without seeing their logo in one way or another. This is on point to really push the brand and own anything gym related when it comes to social content.
See the use of tags here that helped get this to rank!
Giphy also doesn’t differentiate between compound words or phrases at this time. So single words only in search help. However, if you want to rank for a two-word phrase like “gym flex” make sure to include these tags separately (like the example above) or with a space like #gym flex
GIF search engines also use image recognition technology to analyze GIF content to determine what the GIF is about. This is why it’s so important to make the contents of your GIF related to your target keywords.
If a GIF includes a text caption within it’s looping video clip, the GIF search engine will pick up on this information and determine that this GIF is related to whatever words are in the caption. Such as this is clear that this is a leg day post - ranks high and has therefore achieved 4.8 million views
SO, how do I do this?...
First of all, let's not focus on ranking for your brand name. Although this is a minimum requirement - naturally, the search volume on your brand name is probably low in GIF search engines. This isn’t because your brand isn’t that exciting. It’s because most people that are using GIFs in conversations, unfortunately, aren’t talking about your brand (yet).
And secondly, we need to be realistic. How easy is it going to be to rank 1 for a gif when there are over a billion other gifs to compete with?
For example, if you are a sports brand, you may not be able to get a high ranking GIF for a keyword like "sports," as it is a competitive keyword (281,000 results).
However, you may have a better chance of ranking for “kick up” (71,000 results) or “goal" (43,000 results).
But this doesn't mean you shouldn't add your branded tags. Absolutely do this. The best practice is to add your branded keywords to every GIF you upload but focus or prioritise the low competition, high relevancy keywords first to get your content seen.
So what keywords should you be including in the tags and have a good chance at ranking for? This is where keyword research comes in.
How to get Giphy search volumes?
The short simple answer is. - you can't (yet). Tenor (Giphy’s competitor) does offer a very topline insights section into gif search volumes - mainly showing whether that key term is within the top 100, 1000, or 10,000th searched for gif term on their site. But what you can find out is competition based on the number of results in the Giphy 'SERPS' and number of views for ranking 1st.
If I was a sports brand as an example “Kick Up” has 71,000 results and the most relevant no.1 result has 393,000 views. Whereas "Goal” 43,000 results, with the top-ranking gif landing 13.9 million views. Therefore you have a better chance of attempting to rank for “Goal” in this instance.
But if you like to keep it simple, rank competitiveness based on the total number of GIFs uploaded as either Low (less than 2,500), Medium (2,500 – 10,000), or High (10,000+).
We at Rise at Seven have a system which ranks the Giphy keywords you should be targeting based on competitiveness and views data.
So when will I start to see my Gif content rank?
Once you've uploaded the gif content and attributed the tags, the GIF search engine will begin testing out each of your GIFs in organic search results to see how they perform. It will look at views, shares, click-through rate and relevancy and will decide whether to promote or demote your GIF in search results for each keyword.
This is one form of social media optimisation - it's different across every channel!
How is Giphy tied into search?
If you're questioning whether you should spend your valuable time and effort on optimising GIF content - then its probably not for you (yet).
Brands that value impressions as a metric are probably going to be the ones more interested in implementing this as a strategy. As search marketers, ultimately we want to produce useful content and products that you remember the brand and come back. Giphy is part of that journey, building the brand and encouraging branded search from the beginning.
Gymshark doesn't rank in the top 3 for "gym leggings" in Google. But their brand is that strong that last year they turned over over £176million. How? They've also been a social led business, with a huge brand and strong community worldwide. So for a competitive brand like that - Giphy is a key part of their strategy. The gifs add value to customers' conversations, they make you part of emotion on social media and simply help put you at the forefront of consumer's minds.
Don’t forget more than 10 billion GIFs are served each day.
GIFs are a brand awareness play.
GIF marketing is a growing channel with many people using it every day, but many brands not knowing how to utilise it, or utilise it well. In the next few years, we will see advancements in technology that allows further adoption of GIF and increases the value that GIFs can bring as a marketing channel. And that's when things will get competitive.
Be ahead now. Why wait?