Confused when you receive a text reply from your kids with nothing more than cryptic emojis?
Well, SEOs should get familiar with these modern day hieroglyphics. In the latest installment of ‘millennials are ruining everything,’ emoji-based queries are an emerging search trend that’s yielding disparate results than typing the equivalent text in a search. But it’ll take a bit more SEO finesse than simply replacing the word ‘pizza’ with ????.
Here are a couple of opportunities marketers can take advantage of when it comes to emoji SEO, particularly in videos and organic visibility.
Emojis in Videos
When you input an emoji into the search bar, most results will pertain to the emoji itself. But the video carousels on a Google search results page are beginning to show videos with the emoji itself or the word that matches the emoji in the title.
And this part’s the game-changer: Queried emojis in the title are often appearing ahead of videos with titles that are solely text-based. So, replacing text with its emoji counterpart may help increase video visibility in search.
Check out the example below…which was totally given to us from a friend. We weren’t looking for Hannah Montana content, we swear.
When the video is clicked through, you can see the emoji is used just once – in the title – and nowhere else in the description.
And can you believe it’s been 10 years since this Wizards on Deck and Hannah Montana crossover?! Yeah, we’ve never heard of them either.
Boosting Search Visibility with Emoji SEO
Now you marketers are probably wondering, ‘how can Google align a user’s search intent with the correct results based on a single, ambiguous emoji?’
Well, you’re probably not going to rank for a single emoji – those results will likely be reserved for emoji resource sites. But with searches that include some added text to give more insight into the user’s search intent, there are opportunities to rank uniquely from pure-text searches:
Searching ‘pizza near me’ yields different results than ‘???? near me’, thus giving more opportunities for marketers to get eyes on their site by incorporating emojis for certain queries. Notice three of the top six results include emojis in their page title, and one uses it in their meta description.
Emojis in social media profiles or content are receiving boosts in visibility, too, as you can see with Wingstop’s Twitter account:
You might also like: An SEO Outlook for 2019: How the Search Engine Game is Changing
How and when to utilize emoji SEO
Emoji search is available on both Google and Bing search engines. Utilizing them tastefully in titles, meta descriptions, and content can improve organic visibility, but at the moment it appears videos stand to gain the most from emoji SEO.
Google will only display emojis in search result snippets that are relevant queries. In other words, you can’t stuff your page title with emojis in hopes of both boosting organic visibility, and catching users’ attention on text-dominated SERPs.
But, “it is not the case that we would demote a web site or flag it as web spam if it had emojis or other symbols in the description,” explains John Mueller at a Google Webmaster Central hangout.
On the paid side of search, don’t expect to see emojis anytime soon. They aren’t allowed in Google text or shopping ads, or as a part of your store name on Google Merchant Center.
Google My Business doesn’t address emojis specifically, but its policies do say ‘special characters’ should not be included unless they’re a part of your actual brand.
Oddly, Yelp allows users to search with emojis, but won’t allow businesses to include them in listings. But as more companies like Yelp and Postmates offer in-app searches with emojis, and as user behaviour shifts from text to emoji queries, early adopters could enjoy a significant head start in the SEO race. And even if it doesn’t take off as expected, at least you know Google won’t punish you for getting creative with your SEO.
Need help optimizing your site for today’s user’s search trends and behaviours? Our SEO specialists can improve your site’s visibility on search engines and social media, getting more eyes on your site, and more money in your pocket.
Get in touch with us today for an SEO audit (we accept both text- and emoji-based submissions).