Last week, Google began displaying emoji characters on desktop search results, giving those webpages with the characters a higher visibility. Although the characters have been displayed on mobile devices since 2012, this is the first time Google has displayed the characters in full color on desktops.
Google isn’t the only search engine to now be supporting the characters. Emojis have been a popular search feature in Bing for quite sometime, but Google supports the characters differently than Bing. While Yahoo has this feature disabled, the fact two of the biggest search engines are now allowing emojis in search results means it’s time to adjust your SEO strategy to include the characters.
Emojis in Search Results
Emojis will help your website stand out in search results. Certain industries are looking harder at this new SEO strategy than others. For example, an eCard website might want to display a happy face emojis next to a happy birthday eCard listing. By doing this, they will attract more attention and encourage click through rates. Using Ignite Visibility as an example, we might want to display a celebratory emoji next to a page that talks about an award we have won.
It should be noted that Google’s uses emojis differently than Bing’s. Bing allows you to search via emoji, while Google is just displaying them– for now. Whether Google makes the move to enable the search feature, that remains yet to be seen.
Should You use Emojis in Your SEO Strategy?
Under Google’s new move to support emojis on desktops and the fact they are an increasingly popular trend, which will only continue to grow, the characters have the potential to increase CTR. One of the best aspects about an emoji is the fact they carry an expression that conveys deeper emotion, which can be used to help users truly understand the context of a conversation. As a result, the characters make your website more relatable to users, increasing the trust factor. As a rule of thumb, while Google is still allowing these in the search space, any article that has an emotional element should be considered for emoji optimization.
How will it change SEO?
Since CTR has a high correlation with ranking because Google takes the user experience very seriously, incorporating emojis into your SEO strategy only further stacks the cards in your favor, even if the advantage is only slight.
When using emojis, use them sparingly in your page titles, meta descriptions, Google My Business Listing Titles, and AdWords Ads. They are not a decorative feature you want to clutter your website with. You want to use a relevant emoji and not just throw up any character.
For example, consider using the phone character for your contacts page, people for your about page, or a gift image for your sale page. You can also leverage the characters in your favor during holidays and seasonal offerings.
While search results with an emoji is somewhat of a novelty rather than a useful search feature, incorporating them into your SEO strategy in moderation will increase the appeal of your website among certain visitors, helping your CTR. I wouldn’t depend on the characters alone to boost your ranking, but any little factor that may promote your visibility on Google is certainly worth the effort.
The code to add emoticons
You can find a variety of working emoticons to use here.
“Bing Now Lets You Search by Emoji” Search Engine Land
“Google Now Shows Emoji Characters on Desktop Results But Doesn’t Let you Search by The Like Bing” Search Engine Land