On October 27th, Bing announced that it now recognises emojis as a search term. The announcement was made as part of a blog post by Nick Roberts, the senior program manager at Bing’s Relevance and Intent program. In the post, Roberts noted that mobile devices are ubiquitous and text messaging is an incredibly popular form of communication. He called emojis a part of a shorthand language that millions of people use around the world. Roberts said that Bing wants to allow people to search using the same terms that they communicate with on a day to day basis. Emojis can now be searched for as a single term, combined with pure text, or with one or more other emojis. This allows for combinations such as a picture of an airplane and a flag – to search for that country’s airline, or a picture of an iconic place and a picture of a piece of sports equipment, to find that place’s sports team. In many ways, this is just like the pictogram messages that were popular in children’s puzzle books a few decades ago.
Emojis in Other Search Engines
Both Yahoo and Yelp already have emoji-search features, but interestingly enough Google does not. Google’s input box can accept emojis – and a large enough number of people search for them to cause them to appear in the list of suggested searches, but at this time a search for an emoji will return no results. Many social networks already support emojis. They are popular on Twitter, and offer, on a basic level, some ability for people who do not speak the same language to communicate with each other. They can also be used on Facebook.
Yahoo and Bing are allowing emoji searches by translating the emojis into their most common text meaning. A search for the scream emoji will bring up results for the piece of art called The Scream, for example. The search engines do not appear to be indexing emojis themselves, so using emojis in your own web copy is not a good SEO strategy at this time. Pure text is still the most efficient and effective way of getting your point across to the search engines. However, if your target demographic includes people who make extensive use of emojis then using them yourself in your social media marketing efforts could be an interesting experiment.