Are No-Click Searches Impeding the Success of Your SEO Campaign?

This summer marked a milestone for search engine marketers. For the first time ever, more than half of all Google searches ended without the user clicking on a result. In fact, according to data released by Jumpshot and later published by Sparktoro, 50.33% of all Google searches in June resulted in zero clicks for both organic and paid search results.

Image source: SparkToro.com

What is a Zero-Click Search?

A zero-click or no-click search is a query that results in a SERP (search engine results page) that displays the answer at the top of the page, usually utilizing rich snippets. These snippets satisfy the needs of users directly on the SERP, meaning the user never has to click on any of the organic links or paid ads.

Most of us have seen, and even used, rich search results in Google. Google’s calculator and maps have satisfied our searches for years without the need to click on a search result. In the past few years, enhanced search results have expanded to include:

  • Instant Answers
  • Knowledge panels
  • Definitions
  • Recipes
  • Featured snippets

To earn the coveted spot at the top of the page, your content needs to address the user’s need directly. Snippets do not leave room for salesmanship and calls-to-action. You need optimize your content so that Google can easily interpret it and display it with limited SERP real estate.

How Do I Optimize for Zero-Click Searches?

  1. Focus on a specific question that incorporates keywords for which you already rank.
  2. Use high-level headings (h2, h3) to markup your question.
  3. Make it easy for Google to understand your answer: lists work best for how-to questions, definitions for what-is questions, etc.
  4. Keep your answer concise. Shoot for 60-ish words.
  5. Add schema markup for lists, tables, etc.

Even following all of these steps, the competition for rich snippets is fierce and will become more intense as users’ demand for quick answers increases. If you don’t get the snippet immediately, try to examine the competition and find ways to answer the question better AND faster.

Don’t get discouraged. The on-SERP SEO market is still in its infancy, and it is changing the marketing game exponentially. Our best path forward hasn’t changed at all though – give the users what they want. Right now, users want quick information. Increasingly, they use voice search on mobile devices and don’t want to have to click several links to find the answer.

How do Zero-Click Searches Impact Page Rank?

By allowing users an opportunity to use our knowledge without having to click on a link we increase our expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, the three tenets of great SEO. Optimizing for zero-clicks may not win us web traffic, but it wins us a top spot on the page, and if we’ve optimized or meta titles, it wins us name and brand recognition to boot. Finally, it negates our competition. If we’ve fully answered the question, the user doesn’t keep scrolling and doesn’t wind up on one of our competitors’ pages.

No-Click Searches: The Good and The Bad

The benefits of brand recognition and subject authority are more difficult to track than page visits or ad clicks. Zero-click searches limit the immediate feedback we can expect from ad campaigns and make the return on out SEO efforts more difficult to quantify.

Additionally, no-click searches mean fewer marketing opportunities and a narrowing field of competitors. However, the marketing opportunities created by optimized for enhanced search results can net your site prime page one real estate that pushes the competition out of the user’s sightline.