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.