For some time now, Google has allowed users to conduct searches using emoji characters; however this function has never been particularly useful. For example, performing a search with the Apple emoji will often return results of, well… the apple emoji. This is great if you’ve got a keen interest in the history of emojis, but not so great if you were hoping to be directed to the Apple Store.
So, in their current state, it would seem emoji searches are unlikely to add much value to your marketing and SEO, right? Well, when used strategically emojis do have the potential to boost your online efforts. After all, 95% of internet users have sent an emoji at least once, and over 10 billion emojis are sent each day. That’s an absolute mother load. The use of emojis in marketing is also on the rise, currently increasing at a whopping rate of 775% annually. Now, slowly digest those stats…
Using Emojis to Stand Out
Ok. Now, did you know that using emojis to support the emotional tone of your content can help you to stand out in a Google search? As humans we naturally gravitate towards fun shapes and bright colours, so even if your content is ranking at the bottom of page one, you can use emojis in the title or snippet to redirect attention and go ‘toe to toe’ with the top-ranking content in terms of click-through rate.
However, don’t expect that adding emojis to your content will send you soaring to the top of the search results. Sadly, it’s not that easy. While Google’s primary function as a search engine is to give its users the content they want, as quickly as possible – the extent to which the Google search algorithm recognises organic click-through rate as a critical factor in rankings has long been debated. The consensus now, is that content is ranked primarily in terms website performance, content and structure, and while a high click-through rate could give content a slight push up the rankings, it is not a proven strategy.
Using Emojis in SEO
However, the good news is your business may already be ranking in an ‘emoji’ search without your knowledge. In location SEO searches, Google is translating emojis into ‘text’, so that emojis essentially become shortcuts for the user, meaning you don’t need to display an emoji anywhere on your website or Google business listing to rank. For example, instead of typing ‘hair salon near me’, users can simply use the hair cutting emoji prefixed by ‘near me’ and will see similar, if not the same search results. Sigh – this generation – man!
Things to Think About
While emojis are great for grabbing attention and making location-based searches easier for users, it’s important to remember that people often interpret emojis differently. For example, the praying hands emoji is often interpreted as two people high fiving each other, or as a gesture of thanks. So it’s always worth checking that an emoji means what you think it means before plastering it all over your website and social media.
When used cleverly emojis can create some really memorable campaigns. WWF famously capitalised on this with their #EndageredEmoji social media campaign; which encouraged followers to donate by tweeting emojis of endangered animals. The campaign saw 16,000 people sign up to support the charity just three days after its launch.
However, emojis are not suitable for all campaigns and content, so think carefully about the message you want to convey and the type of people you want to engage. While emojis are likely to become more prominent in search results in the future, trying to force them into your content when they don’t clearly don’t belong will only annoy (or even offend) your audience.