Searching With Smiles: What Google's New Emoji Search Feature Means To Search Engine Optimisers

Latest News and Trends • 19th May, 16


It’s not like Google to be behind the times on anything, but in this case, its crotchety old uncle Yahoo and its ambitious little cousin Bing were, for once, both way ahead of it.

For a while now, users inclined to take Weird Al’s advice and “only write in emoji” have been able to use both Bing and Yahoo to run searches on emoji symbols (gotta stay relevant, especially when one of your competitors is one of the biggest brand names in the world); however, up until very recently, entering emojis into Google only returned the good old “no results found” page.

A few days ago, however, it was announced that Google now returned search results for an extensive array of emojis. And unlike poor old Bing and Yahoo, in addition to simply returning results for whatever the emoji represents, it also searches for the emoji itself.

Fun stuff. You know, for teenagers and lazy folks. So how’s it relevant to the world of SEOs, online business representation, and the like?

Depends what business you’re talking about, really. You probably know what we mean; for the likes of life insurance or, eh, funeral parlours – you know, the sort of businesses that you’d be thoroughly disinclined to do business with if you saw emojis on their sites – this little tweak to the internet’s most popular search engine will probably mean very little.

But for other businesses, well, it could change things. You know the ones – the sort of businesses with brightly coloured logos, a relatively young demographic, a focus on a modern image, and the like. And for businesses like that, well, this fresh and modern change could be helluva useful on the SEO front.

(Admittedly, this is kind of making the assumption that you weren't already taking Bing and Yahoo's emoji search feature into account. Let's be honest, though - you probably weren't. Not when Google wasn't doing it.)

Of course, you’ll need to apply the same rules that you apply to any other element of search engine optimisation – you know, don’t use them where they aren’t appropriate, don’t hide them in the background, and, for the love of God, don’t spam them all over the place; it doesn’t matter what your business is, a site that looks like a primary schooler’s WhatsApp chat isn’t going to do anything good for your PR.

But if you approach it right, emojis could pull your click rates right up. Should you decide that emojis are appropriate in your business’s online representation – and you’ll want to be sure that’s the case – then it goes without saying that the next step is ensuring that you use them properly. There’s a diverse range of emojis (not all of which, admittedly, are turning up very satisfying search results, but hopefully they’re working on that); and aside from picking which ones fit the nature of your business, you also need to consider how to work them into your site. Simply shoehorning them in all over the place will just make you look like the standard mid-life-crisis-afflicted dad trying way too hard to be cool.


No, when you use emojis on your site, you need to ensure that they’re appropriate, that they feel natural, that they fit the tone of the page on which they’re presented, that they assist in communicating the message of the site, and – most importantly, in this case – that they’re used on parts of the site that you feel would make good landing pages, and paired with appropriate keywords in order to increase their chance of snagging Google’s attention without you having to cough up royalties.

The increasingly visual, shorthand nature of modern conversation, as well as how annoying emojis are or are not, is a debate that can go on for years, assuming you’ve got that sort of time. Regardless of one’s personal views on the issue, though, it’s clear that, whether one likes it or not, emojis are just one of the many aspects of the modern internet age that are going to become highly significant elements in the realm of marketing and advertising. Looks like Google’s finally caught up to that; perhaps it’s time to consider doing so too.


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