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Zero Click Searches: How Google Curates Content without Driving Traffic to Websites

If you’ve searched on Google and had your question answered without having to click through to a website, you’re already familiar with zero click searches. Google shifted how it drives website traffic on its search engine results page (SERP). Due to this, your business may have noticed a decline in conversions.

This SEO update raises questions. Namely, what caused this change? And, if people aren’t clicking through to my website, does the content my team works diligently to create even matter?

Short answer, yes. Specifically, top-of-funnel, informational content creates value for your brand in an On-SERP SEO landscape. 

In layman’s terms, a zero click search happens when you type a query into Google and have your question answered without having to leave Google’s ecosystem for another website. These answers are aptly called Google Quick Answers.

Quick Answers can also be called featured snippets. Here's an example one for the search "How Big is a Whale?"

“Zero-click searches …. have been on a steady rise for years, and I don’t expect that to reverse or plateau anytime soon,” Rand Fishkin, founder of SparkToro, commented on the updated findings of his Google clickstream data study. The updated data provided by Jumpshot found that, for the first time, the majority of Google searches (50.33%) ended without a click on an organic or paid search result.

Anti-competitive behavior? The study estimates that 94% of all U.S. searches occur on a Google property (including Images, YouTube and Maps). “That makes them a clear monopoly in search,” wrote Fishkin, who will be discussing these trends in a keynote address at SMX East in New York City. While more Google searches than ever end without a click, Google has continued to send a relatively consistent portion of searchers to other properties it owns.

Why we should care. The proportion of zero-click searches has increased over the years, and the more searches that end without users clicking through to a page, the less traffic brands and publishers are likely to have.

So, what can my business do about the emergence of zero-click search and On-SERP SEO? Create more top-of-funnel, ToFu content.

Why?

Branded searches are more impactful to your business goals than generic search queries. ToFu content builds the audience of direct visits to your site. With branded search, users are specifically seeking your business, and have a likelihood of converting into a customer. The correlation between branded search and a loyal, paying customer is strong.

ToFu content gently introduces your brand to the individual you’re looking to earn business from, while steadily building trust. The modern decision-making process is non-linear, and being a helpful brand with informative, top-of-funnel content encourages additional site traffic. This creates a positive reinforcement loop, where prospective customers return to your site specifically to have their questions answered. Those prospective customers will reward your business with a well-earned sale if you’ve created impactful, informative content.

 

Michael Cipielewski
Director of Digital Marketing

Michael Cipielewski is the Director of Marketing at HLM, an avid reader, Podcast enthusiast, geek dad, and rescuer of Pomeranians.

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