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Are Google’s Zero-Click Searches a Threat for Marketers?

Are Google’s Zero-Click Searches a Threat for Marketers?

Many marketers, especially SEOs, see zero-click searches, (searches that do not end up with people clicking on anything in the search results) as problematic.

Searching Google for information about the weather, election results, my dental office’s contact numbers, the answers are right in front of my eyes -meaning that I don’t need to scan through the snippets, click a result, or check through the content to find the answer.

Zero click searches in google
Zero click search weather results

While this is definitely a handy development for users, SEOs are concerned, because SEO is all about getting traffic to the website/webpages from Google or another search engine.

What Is the Controversy About Zero-Click Search?

SparkToro, in its recent blog post, said that, when SimilarWeb analyzed 5.1 trillion Google searches in 2020, they found that only 34% of the searches resulted in clicks. But Google contested these findings, saying that its search engine has increased visits to websites every year.

Zero click search analysis by sparktoro

For example, SparkToro said that fewer clicks are going to websites. But Google claims that its search engine has increased visits to websites every year.

Here are some details from the SparkToro study:

  • SimilarWeb analyzed ~5.1 trillion Google searches in 2020
  • These searches took place on the 100M+ panel of mobile and desktop devices from which SimilarWeb collects clickstream data.
  • Of those 5.1 trillion searches, 33.59% resulted in clicks on organic search results.
  • 1.59% resulted in clicks on paid search results.
  • The remaining 64.82% completed a search without a direct; follow-up click to another web property.
  • Searches resulting in a click are much higher on desktop devices (50.75% organic CTR, 2.78% paid CTR).
  • Zero-click searches are much higher on mobile devices (77.22%).

Twitter exploded right after this, and relatively several discussions happened. Followed by this, Google released a blog post claiming that the study wasn’t reliable for the following reasons:

  • People reformulate their queries.
    • People don’t always know how to word their queries when they begin searching. They might start with a broad search, like “sneakers,” and, after reviewing results, realize that they actually wanted to find “black sneakers.”
  • People look for quick facts.
    • People look for quick, factual information, like weather forecasts, sports scores, and currency conversions.
  • People connect with a business directly.
    • People might search for business hours, then drive to the store after confirming a location is open. Or they find restaurants on Google and call for information or place an order, using listed phone numbers.
  • People navigate directly to apps.
    • If you search for a TV show, you’ll see links to various streaming providers like Netflix or Hulu. If you have that streaming app on your phone, these links will take you directly to the app.

All of this suggests that more information is being distributed in relevant zero-click answers.

Where does Google obtain the answers in its SERPs that deliver users the information they need, so they do not need to click further (i.e., the search ends up with zero click-throughs)? The answer is straightforward - website content and content marketing.

So How Can Websites Benefit from Google's New "Zero-Click Search"?

Start with Website Content

Examine the content of your website. Make sure it is relevant, unique, and of editorial quality. Does it answer the critical question of "Why would I choose this business?" Does it address all the crucial questions and concerns of your customer segments? Do you have detailed descriptions of your services and products?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs are components of the website content that have earned importance in the era of mobile search and voice assistants. Prospective customers appreciate the valuable information they can find in FAQs. It allows them to find a quick, well-formulated answer to questions they might have.

Schema Markup

Schema markup helps search engines understand websites' content and intent, especially dynamic content elements such as events and happenings pages, special offers, opening hours, star ratings, FAQs, and videos.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Do you publish blogs/content assets very frequently? Are you running a news portal? Is your business getting a lot of visitors via mobile devices? – If your answers are “YES,” AMP is the feature for you. AMP increases visibility and creates an extra access point to improve mobile visitors and bookings/actions and provide another chance to outperform the competition.

SEO KPIs and Zero-Click Searches

Okay, we have seen enough about what a zero-click search is. How can you leverage it? How can you optimize for zero-click searches?

If you’re trying to optimize for zero-click searches, do traditional SEO KPIs make sense? The answer is a big NO. You will want to modify your SEO KPIs to align with zero-click searches.So, what should SEOs care about? What KPIs to track and monitor while optimizing for zero-click searches?

If you are aiming for a “featured snippet,” your KPI should be tied to impression share.

1. Track search impressions from GSC for the LPs that you optimize for zero-click searches.

  1. a. Look at LPs that rank high (typically position 1) and drive many impressions but don’t have enough clicks.
  2. b. Use tools like Semrush to track keyword position for the specific LPs. Their position tracking tool comes in handy for tracking featured snippets.
Featured snippets tracking in semrush

2. If you’re into local SEO, the zero-click search behavior can be overwhelming. Here are the three significant segments where the zero-click search can happen:

  • Direction-oriented searches: These are searches for places, locations, and businesses. These are almost always local and often carry tags like "near me" or "open now."
  • Database-oriented searches: These are searches for dates, times, currency, math, or any other small snippet of information that Google can quickly answer.
  • Dictionary-oriented searches: These are searches for names, places, things, or anything that can be answered by a dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia.
    1. a. Using dynamically changing phone numbers for specific channels with call tracking services, you can have precise data on how many people call your business. Most providers give full-funnel data like how many called your business, how many are existing customers, how many are new customers, and how many have made an appointment/action.
    2. b. Are you a small business owner and do not have the budget to invest in call- tracking services? Google My Business is adding a call history module that is currently in BETA for logging recent calls from searchers. Here is the extract from the GMB help page.

“You can use call history to keep track of phone calls from your customers on Google Search and Maps. Your needs are all in one place to help you respond to missed calls and stay engaged with your customers.

These calls may make it easier for you to find and do business with customers who found your business through Google. Any calls you get from your Business Profile will start with a short message that lets you know it’s from Google.”

Conclusion

By becoming creative and adding more in-depth value to the content you create, you can place your website in a strong position. SEO is all about adaptability. Google is sure to focus on its users’ stickiness as you care for your visitors’ stickiness on your website. Let the smart play game begin!

July 30, 2021
By Mercy Janaki