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Should You Add Emojis to Your Search Listings?

What sort of image do your want your business to project? Are you more of a straight laced, stone cold professional? A high energy, creative innovator? Or is your brand perhaps a small yellow face with hearts for eyes?

That last option is now possible on Google: websites can have Emojis in the search results. It’s done by simply adding the character for the Emoji into your site’s title tag. You can have as many as you can fit in there. The question is, do you want to?

Some businesses apparently do. As reported in Search Engine Land, travel giant has jumped on the emojional bandwagon, putting the cartoonish character of a hotel next to at least some of their pages. (My own search shows that they’ve changed it to the slightly less cartoonish icon of a bed.)

Smileys and Frowns

In theory, adding an emoji could make your search listing stand out more from the others around it, increasing the click-through rate—at least that’s the talk around the SEO water cooler. If true, an Emoji could bring you more traffic, which is presumably what Expedia is after.

But that doesn’t mean you should run out and and emoj-up your own site. I suggest caution in trying this tactic out, for a few reasons:

  • No one actually knows if it works. Sure, Expedia is at least curious enough to try it, and maybe you are too. But at this time we have no idea whether an Emoji increases traffic or not, or even potentially hurts it. There is no data on how Emojis affect click-though rate.
  • Google could take this feature away. They frequently try out new options for search listing only to drop them a few months later. I would hold off and see if it catches on, which would make it likely to last.
  • Not all search engines show Emojis, and that’s a problem. If the Emoji doesn’t parse, it shows up as a nonsense character. Instead of fun and playful, it makes your website look spammy and cheap.

Here’s an example of an Emoji character that works on Google but shows up as broken code on Yahoo:




Which Emotion Is YOUR Business?

Besides that, there’s your image. Emojis are totally fine for certain kinds of websites: sites for kids, band blogs, goofy Tumblrs and any business aimed at tweens. But for a law firm? The extra traffic, if any, is probably not worth putting an Emoji in your listing.

If it does fit your image, start small. Try adding Emoji to a small number of landing pages and then tracking any change in traffic for four weeks. If it performs well for you, roll it out on the rest of the site.

Otherwise you may find yourself feeling all Sad Emoji.