Half of all Google searches end without a click.
This factoid might sound troublesome for the search engine giant that earns most of its revenue selling clicks, but the reality is quite the opposite.
No-click searches (or zero-click) are by design, and they’re here to stay. It’s the newest iteration in how Google makes scouring the web for answers faster, easier and more user-friendly for searchers – and most users probably didn’t even notice it was happening.
In a recent episode of Digital. Done Right. we discussed no-click searches and talked about how whether businesses need to change their SEO strategy to compete for the zero-click space.
Here are the highlights from that conversation.
What is a No-Click Search?
If you haven’t noticed the rise in no-click searches, it’s only because they’re just that effective and just that efficient. The way it works is simple, Google has figured out a number of query types that can be quickly and easily answered right there at the top of the search results. So, when you ask one of these questions, you’ll often get your answer without having to visit a single website. Sometimes the answer is generated by a Google application. Other times content is pulled from another website and displayed in an easily digested format. And other times still, what gets displayed is an aggregate of information collected from multiple pages.
But the result is the same. The user gets their answer and not a single website sees a visitor.
It’s great for consumers – with a distinct set of pros and cons for online businesses.
Types of No-Click Searches
There six primary categories of no-click search:
- Instant Answers – Quick answers provided by the search engine, usually displayed to the right
- Knowledge Panel – Informational boxes that display information from the Knowledge Graph database (usually relates to people, places, things and organizations)
- Calculators – Not just simple calculators but metric conversions, mortgage calculators, you name it
- Definitions – What does this word mean? How do you say “Where’s the bathroom?” in German?
- Maps – Self-explanatory, you ask Google where something is located and boom, there’s a map
- Featured Snippets – This is when Google pulls the portion of content off a web page that answers the user’s question – snippets can be text, images or video
OK. Got it. But how does this affect my business and my web traffic?
Monetization of No-Click Searches
At some point it would only make sense that Google will try to monetize this zero-click space. At present, doing so comes with complications, primarily figuring out a value for each ad unit, or put more accurately, each unit of content.
Tracking and valuing clicks is easy. It’s even easier when advertisers bid the price automatically so that Google doesn’t have to – but how much is an eyeball worth? Especially an eyeball that may not even bother clicking on your link.
Why would they? They’ve already got the answer they’re looking for!
It’s not that simple, of course. Digital marketing never is.
The Real Value of Ranking for Zero-Click
On some level, having your snippet or video showcased as a no-click answer will give you a bit of brand awareness – but realistically, the benefits are more nuanced than that.
You know you need visitors to land on your page if you’re going to generate a transaction that drives revenue – or at the very least gather the data you need to retarget and aim for a transaction further down the line.
But what if being showcased as no-click content drives fewer organic clicks but more targeted ones?
That’s exactly what we might expect.
If a user was truly only looking for an answer and never had any intention of making a purchase, then the fact that they bounce off before you collect their data might be no big deal. In fact, it might wind up saving you money as you won’t bother paying to retarget a lead that isn’t a lead at all.
However, if a user gets the answer they’re looking for and still chooses to click through, this means they recognize you as an expert and they want to learn more. Which is exactly the ideal sort of visitor you’d love to find their way organically to your page.
As an added bonus, having your snippet featured can put your business above the big-name aggregator sites like Yelp. Big companies you typically can’t afford to out advertise and that even the biggest players usually fail to outrank.
What’s the Strategy?
Adding no-click results to the mix makes investing in SEO strategy more important than ever, particularly if we presume that Google will continue to expand on the no-click model, which would mean fewer and fewer organic clicks from search results moving forward.
It’s a slow process but one that’s worthwhile in the long run.
But the thing is, most of the strategies you should employ to improve you ranking for no-click is the same sort of stuff you should be doing for SEO already:
- Content development, written in normal language but optimized for search engine performance
- Optimize titles, headlines and meta descriptions
- Rethink how content is organized on your page
And flesh out your FAQs!
Robust FAQs are ideal for no-click SEO because the content is already set up in the same question and answer format Google is looking to use for featured snippets.
More than anything, you’ve absolutely got to include no-click in the thought process that goes you’re your total SEO umbrella. You don’t need a separate strategy but an integrated one.
Go with the Grain
Making Google happy isn’t always as complicated as it seems. They typically reward the pages that go with the grain. If Google feels people are wanting no-click results, it only makes sense to provide content that’s congruent with this end goal.