Companies spend lots of time and money trying to climb the ranks of the SERPs, but fully maximizing how many people click on your results can be a difficult undertaking.

In an apparent effort to do just that, online travel giant Expedia is employing an unusual tool: Emojis in some of its page titles. 

Google has supported the display of Emoji characters in search results on mobile since 2012, but only added desktop support last month.

Following that, Search Engine Land was tipped off to the fact that Expedia has added Emoji characters to the titles of some but not all of its pages.

For example, a search for "miami hotels" returns an Expedia page that has a bed Emoji before the text page title, while a search for "portland flights" includes an Expedia page that has an airplane seat Emoji before the text page title.

Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, it appears that Expedia has excluded some of the United States' largest cities from its Emoji test.

Results for searches related to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, for instance, don't have the Emoji page titles.

Will it work, and long-term?

Search Engine Land's Barry Schwartz says he expected companies to experiment with Emoji page titles "hoping the additional imagery in the search results would lead to more visibility and a higher click through rate." And, at least initially, there's good reason to believe it will have some effect.

After all, results with Emojis do stand out, particularly in browsers that display them in full color. In some browsers, however, the Emojis are solid blue and don't look nearly as appealing.

Assuming that use of Emojis doesn't hurt a page's SEO and companies experimenting with them see CTRs increasing, the SERPs could become inundated with Emojis as everyone seeks to capitalize.

That, of course, would probably reduce over time the CTR lift that Emoji use could deliver, reducing the value of the technique.

And while Emojis themselves are here to stay, if Emoji title stuffing clutters up the SERPs, companies shouldn't be surprised if Google backtracks on its decision to let them into the SERPs in the first place.

Patricio Robles

Published 6 May, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)


Jacques Corby-Tuech, Email Marketing & Data Specialist at Curse Inc

Looks like Google are already considering removing emoji from the SERP.

over 3 years ago

Denis Butler

Denis Butler, Digital Communications Manager at Atom Content Marketing

Not sure it's a long term thing - same day as you publish this blog, somebody publishes 'Google to stop emojis in SERPS

over 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Yes, typical isn't it? I think it's a good thing, the search results would soon look a mess if everyone used emojis.

over 3 years ago

Jonathan May

Jonathan May, Director at Hatfish Design & Media

I couldn't agree more Graham. The introduction of Emojis would create messy SERPS and undoubtedly, some digital marketers would go way over the top with them and then the end user would struggle to find exactly what they were looking for in the first place.

At the end of the day they will have no effect on the overall rankings, its just pretty and shiny and all the Magpies will be more inclined to click through.

Get them gone straight away or limit it to one Emoji per page title max if you are going to allow them.

over 3 years ago

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