Now Over 50% of Google Searches are Zero-Click

In the search world, shocking news has just been released that the SparkToro study found 50.33% of Google Searches resulted in Zero-Click, meaning once they landed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), people didn’t bother to click through to any other site, they just read the information that was there, got the answer they needed and ended their session.

If you’re a marketer, alarm bells are likely ringing because this means less potential traffic to your site. And if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll also know that judging from the results of studies done previously, this statistic is trending up and will continue to do so.

Before we start writing Google angry letters about how they’re ruining us, it’s important to take a breath and review the reason that Google exists today. Here’s Google’s mission statement.

From the beginning, our mission has been to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Today, people around the world turn to Search to find information, learn about topics of interest, and make important decisions. We consider it a privilege to be able to help. As technology continues to evolve, our commitment will always be the same: helping everyone find the information they need.

So Featured Snippets and Zero-Click searches are really in line with Google’s mission, helping everyone find the information they need. Nowhere in their mission statement do they say that they exist to promote your website. Now, they do provide a way for you to do that on Google, it’s called advertising, and when you think about it, all those companies who do pay for advertising, ultimately pay for your site to end up in the SERP if Google believes that your website is relevant to the searcher finding the information they need. Obviously, Google makes its money by providing relevant target audiences for advertisers, not by working for you.

Although I don’t have a stat for you, it’s likely that Zero-Click searchers are more popular on mobile and voice search (or so industry experts are saying). A lot of Zero-Click searches include simple facts, such as dates, times, word meanings, currency conversions, how-to’s, names of people, and so on. As an example, I’ve shown the results of a simple search to know when Madonna was born:

It’s no longer really necessary, if you only want to know her birthday, to then click on the link of to get the information you need. The zero-click trend increase may be due in part to people realizing that Google can now satisfy these simple queries, and so they have started to engage in these types of searches more and more. It seems that now every dinner with friends I go to, someone is always pulling out their phone to check these types of facts (who sang that song? How did so-and-so pass away? Etc.). So, we know that Featured Snippets impact traffic to websites by answering queries so the searcher doesn’t need to click-through, but they also draw potential traffic from other websites as the featured snippet is so prominent people naturally go there first.

If I type in the query, “How to Build a Home” as I’ve done here:

The Featured Snippet doesn’t answer my question, and if I want to know more, I would have to click-through to the New Home Source website. But as you can see from the images below, I have to scroll past the people also ask questions and the video carousel before I come to other links to information.

So, the Featured Snippet has definitely impacted traffic to these other websites.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that you give up trying to rank on a SERP.

This same study from SparkToro also found that 45.25% of searches were with Organic Clicks and 4.42% of searches were Ad Clicks. There will always be many searches in which a Featured Snippet would never be enough space to fulfill the searchers needs, or the Featured Snippet and website won’t provide the information they’re looking for, or where the searcher wants to see lots of options.

In practice, the more you can provide an answer to a searcher’s query, whether they need to click through to your site for more information or not, the more you will help Google fulfill its mission, which will likely result in more people being sent your way, raising brand awareness and sales. Don’t forget, there’s a lot of traditional advertising such as TV and radio, whereby advertisers have built massive brands and they were also zero-click. The best strategy now is to focus on optimizing for Featured Snippets and Rich Snippets to attract people and work with Google’s algorithm, which we will give you some tips on how to do so in our next blog post.

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