[Odd SEO] How Emoji Directories Are Slaying Search
Emojis: love them or hate them they've become indispensable to modern, mobile communication.
They're a fast and easy way to convey emotion.
Hell, they even made a movie about them in 2017!
And there are thousands of them- exploding in popularity when Apple released iOS 6 in 2012, according to LifeWire.
The site I'm profiling today capitalizes on the enormous popularity of emojis. They've assembled a definitive database of these quirky icons.
And they're crushing it with SEO.
First, to get on the same page and define terms. According to Wikipedia, emojis "are ideograms and smileys used in electronic messages and web pages."
Armed with that- let's dive in. The site I'm profiling is Emojipedia.org
What Is Emojipedia?
Emojipedia is like a Wikipedia for emojis.
The emoji search engine. A fast emoji search experience with options to browse every emoji by name, category, or platform.
According to their Twitter profile, Emojipedia bills itself an "emoji search engine".
And, digging further, their Facebook page explains that "Emojipedia is your trusted source of emoji news. Browse any emoji by name, or look up how it looks on multiple platforms. Featuring fast search and copy and paste of emojis."
Using the Wayback Machine, we can see the site got its start in 2013 as a humble WordPress blog and over time evolved into the wiki-behemoth it is today:
For those interested, they also have a podcast.
In a nutshell, they are a one-stop resource for any and all emoji content. As we saw in my review of KnowYourMeme, these sites become trusted authorities in obscure areas of internet culture with huge search volumes and low organic search competition.
For example, their top-performing keyword is "shrug emoji". This term gets searched over half a million times a month and is bringing them almost 15,000 visitors a month to their "shrug emoji" page.
Click To View Top 50 Keywords
According to Ahrefs, Emojipedia ranks for over 1 million keywords with over 250,000 backlinks from over 14,000 domains including Wikipedia, Buzzfeed, the Windows blog, the Guardian & the Washington Post.
A quirky component of this site is that they publish the text character version of the shrug ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, and other text-character emojis, in their meta-information which makes it particularly striking in the SERPs (search engine results page):
A site:emojipedia.org search returns over 400,000 indexed pages. They've produced a ton of thoughtfully organized emoji content- pages for every imaginable emoji.
As well, their strong domain authority, an 83 according to Ahrefs, combines with their well-organized on-page content.
A strong SEO recipe.
How does it make money?
Disabling AdBlock, you can see that their shrug emoji page has a prominent ad above the fold:
This is really a Display Ad play- there aren't really affiliate opportunities or products to sell in this space. Perhaps they'd be able to sell emoji packs for mobile phones- but I don't see them currently doing that.
As an aside- I just started using Ezoic to manage my display ads on my DIY AdSense site. They've roughly doubled my income already running split tests on my ad layouts- definitely worth a try if you have an existing display ad property.
According to SimilarWeb, in January 2018, they received close to 20 million visits, with the average visitor staying for over 2 minutes and viewing more than 2 pages.
Top Traffic Sources
At the time of this writing, March 2018, their top traffic channel is search, followed by direct, followed by social.
This makes a lot of sense considering the massive SEO opportunities for emoji-related content in the search engines.
It also makes sense that they get a lot of direct traffic. As a one stop resource for emoji content, they're a trusted entity.
They undoubtedly receive lots of return traffic whenever someone needs to research a trending emoji or clarify the origins of an obscure internet meme.
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What's The Big Idea?
High Volume/Low Competition SEO
This is another interesting example of a site that leverages high-volume/low-competition search terms to get a massive amount of traffic on auto-pilot.
And it's a really high-quality site- so they passively acquire lots of amazing backlinks.
The cycle perpetuates itself- the more quality content they produce, the more often they're found in search, the more backlinks they get, the better their rankings get for their emoji keywords.
It's also another example of a site capitalizing on organic traffic flowing through AdSense-monetized informational content.
While my favorite formula remains evergreen affiliate SEO (i.e. 'ranking product reviews'), there are lots of low-competition/high-volume SEO opportunities out there that can only be monetized with display ads, versus affiliate/e-commerce.
It takes a great deal of patience to get an organic-traffic site like this off of the ground. As we saw with the Wayback Machine, the site got its start in 2013- but after 5 years it is spectacularly successful.
Regarding patience, I speak from experience. I'm currently growing an organic-traffic, DIY site that's monetized with AdSense.
It's taken over a year before I reached about 1,000 visits a day, ranking for about 30,000 keywords.
Granted, I let it sit dormant for at least 6 months after initially publishing about ten 3,000+ word posts.
So I probably could have done better by it if it had my full attention- but I'm actually pretty pleased with where it's at now.
The point being- it generally takes a long time before Google begins rewarding you with traffic.
And even with a 1,000 visitors a day, I'm only going to make $150 this month from AdSense. But I know that if I pour in some more content, in several months time, I can realistically 2x or 3x my current monthly AdSense earnings.
A year from now?
Who knows...maybe I'll have crossed the $1,000 a month threshold, or better. My affiliate income is over 20 times that amount, but it's important to be diversified. My ambition is to someday hit $4,000 a month in AdSense- because that used to be my monthly salary.
Another cool thing about this site- it's a really fun topic. It's visual and it's current- a rewarding combination. This is definitely a consideration if you're just starting out- you'll have so much more bandwidth if you have some interest in the niche.
That said- if you just love SEO and digital marketing like I do, the niche isn't necessarily as important.
Now that I have recurring affiliate income- I'm able to focus on publishing content that interests me (like this post), rather than gunning for earnings & rankings
Cost Per Click Issues
Emojipedia might not get absurdly high Cost Per Clicks, given the nature of the content, but it gets so much traffic that it doesn't really matter.
If you were in an insurance or loans niche, the cost per click would be much higher. But those niches are insanely competitive.
Just check out this infographic from WordStream about the most competitive Google advertising niches:
They're also pretty dry- loans, law, recovery, mortgages are boring topics.
I'd prefer to be in a niche like this where the content is fun and unique- rather than slogging away in a high CPC niche I don't have a passion for.
This site analysis should help you envision the weird and eclectic opportunities available to the enterprising search marketer. I should also say, I'm not completely wedded to SEO.
It makes sense to get some experience with paid, social and email-marketing, as well. While my predominant strength is SEO- I don't want to be left high and dry if/when the tides of organic search maliciously shift.
To boot, social traffic for a site like Emojipedia could be an enormously strong, supplementary play.
When you think about growing a profitable website- just know that SEO requires patience, but that there are quicker alternatives like paid and social traffic if the waiting game is driving you nuts.