Special characters in description meta data tags

I’m sure that from time to time you’ve noticed Google results featuring odd characters such as ticks, stars and even smiley faces. It’s been an issue for many years, and if you’re not sure what I mean, this article from 2011 has examples. It’s fair to say that these probably help make a result stand out, so why does Google allow them, and should we be all be joining in?

Getting actual data on whether decoration like this increases clickthrough rate is difficult, as is working out whether Google likes it or not. I’ve read reports on a few experiments, but the verdict is inconclusive, even after all this time. Also, if you do a Google search for ‘seo agency’, notice that none of the top results use anything other than very plain descriptions. These are people who presumably know what they’re doing – and what they’re doing has worked.

And yet, if your company is sitting one place below a Google result which appears like there’s a party going on, you might be tempted to try the same, even if it doesn’t look very serious or professional. All I can say is that there’s no obvious penalty that I know of, so if you want to experiment, feel free.