Do Emojis Fit into Your SEO Strategy?

Should you optimize your website for emojis? If you're in the restaurant industry or providing a service, there might be emojis you should add into your SEO strategy to increase your search rankings.

Katie Hecox
Digital Strategist

Should You Optimize Your Site for Emojis?

Prior to 2011, the word “emoji” did not exist in American culture. Tiny, yellow, emotional circles and detailed food icons were not part of our digital lives.

In 2018, emojis are more popular than ever before. People of all ages are using them in their text messages, emails, and social media platforms. With the constant addition of new icons, emojis are rapidly becoming more representative of our day-to-day lives. But why are we so obsessed?

Emojis are eye catching. They sprinkle in bits of color amongst the world of black and white text. Emojis help us to communicate how we are feeling without actually typing it out. Emojis are a digital substitute for real-life nonverbal communication.

Where did emojis come from?

In the early 1980’s, people were still navigating the most effective way to communicate  in the digital world. Black letters layered on top of a white background had no way of conveying the tone and emotion of the sender to the receiver.

Scott Fahlan conquered this problem when he associated meaning to an arbitrary grouping of punctuation marks. Fahlan sent an email to his coworkers at Carnegie Mellon and declared that if someone was trying to convey humor through an email, they should complement the content with a colon, dash, and ending parentheses.

On September 19, 1982, the emoticon was born. : - )

This makeshift smiley face would not only help his office make sense of their emails, but also revolutionize the world of digital communication forever.

Twelve years later, Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita created the first “emoji.” These were a set of 176 icons that visually represented different words, such as “heart,” “sunshine,” or “airplane.”

Since 1999, the popularity of emojis has exploded. Emojis are available across many platforms and new icons are added to the keyboard each year. Today, there are over 2,800 emojis to choose from.

Google’s Optimization of Emojis

According to a recent Moz article, Google is in the beginning stages of indexing sites with emojis. This means that while Google is crawling sites, they will remember whether your content includes an emoji in one of the meta descriptions on your site.

Google’s indexing of emojis is due to the popularity of these icons in today’s culture. Younger people are beginning to search Google by using emojis. If they are looking for the best local taco joint, their search may look something like this:

So if you include an emoji in the description of one of your site pages or somewhere on your Google My Business listing, your site has the potential to rank higher than ones without an emoji. Incorporating a corresponding emoji with your web content can help you stand out among the rest and possibly rank higher when people search with emojis.

Is this your next big SEO strategy?

Before you throw out your current SEO content and swap all the text for emojis, be sure to keep these ideas in mind.

  • Know Your Target Audience

    This strategy specifically appeals to the younger generation. Although tech users of all ages often incorporate emojis into their day-to-day lives, young people are the primary target for this SEO strategy.  If your target audience does not include the young millennial crowd, using emojis may not be the best option for you.
  • Follow Your Brand Guidelines

     Every brand has a unique voice – well, every brand should have a unique voice. Don’t compromise brand consistency just so you can use your favorite emoji somewhere on your website. If emojis would easily fit into your current brand voice, use them! If emojis would feel out of place in your content, don’t force it.
  • Don’t Overdo It

    Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use too many emojis in one place. If you choose to implement emojis into your SEO strategy, remember to use them in moderation. Emojis capture digital attention, and that’s what we’re all trying to do – right? But if you use too many emojis, they will lose their power. You want your content to stand out, but don’t forget to be professional.