More than half the searches made on Google end up without a click to another website in the SERP (search engine result page). Wow, what? People search for things and don’t even care to click a website that corresponds with their query, as ranked by Google? Exactly. More than 50% of them do. What does that mean? They find what they are looking for somewhere else. Those are called zero-click searches and affect the content on your website even more. Whether you write SEO-friendly articles yourself or just trying to rank with them, you should read this.
Why does it happen?
The rise of the Featured Snippet & the Knowledge Card
People ask simple questions that have clear-cut answers. Google provides them by displaying a piece of information that satisfies the query and brings the most value according to the search engine. Simply put, that’s the reason why.
Besides building automated responses, Google provides a variety of formats in which it presents the information. The most common are featured snippets and knowledge cards/panels. So, let’s look at what each is and how it helps the end-user.
- Knowledge cards/panels appear in the form of a block of information, placed on the right of the top search results (for desktop). Google uses it to systemize knowledge on a subject, person, brand, or business, pulling from all sources it finds relevant, but you can also write it yourself. In mobile versions, it dominates the SERP, appearing in between top results.
- Featured snippet – Google pulls the information from the original organic result, but it removes the need for you to click further if this is all the information you need. It appears at the top of your SERP (both in desktop and mobile).
Both Knowledge cards and Featured Snippets are patented elements of the Google SERP that display factual information or gives a definitive answer to a question. The topics include metrics, degrees, currency conversions, etc.
For some things, you don’t even have to write things, such as “how to do ___” to get an answer to a topic-related question automatically generated by Google.
Let’s say you are playing a quiz, and you want to check out how many EU members there currently are.
That’s what you will get. At this point, if it has satisfied your initial search intent, you make no further clicks to any other website, and you exit Google. Okay, but what about if you need elaboration or want to skim through the countries part of the EU. Then, you might scroll beyond the featured snippet. And Google will continue to try to satisfy your search:
Yes, that’s right; another SERP (search engine result page) feature. This one does require a click, but in its nature, it still foregoes the first organic results at the top. The “people also ask” section actually retrieves the information from another website, which yours can be a part of. We’ll talk about this one further on.
What Do Zero-Click Searches Really Mean?
For you – little to no traffic and lower click-through rate (CTR). Even when you are killing it in your top organic ranking game. Traffic & CTR – that’s all you are fighting for on the SEO battlefield. Well, not all, but it’s the most desired jewel in the crown. Okay, this is starting to sound a little bit dramatic, but it’s nothing new. What’s also dramatic is how the changes in Google are starting to eat away from the number of visitors your website gets.
Two Ways To Go About it
How article writers can adapt
Over the years, the way the SERP looks kept changing. Features were added, others removed but what has left is its continuous impact on search user behavior. Here’s how you can adapt your content strategy to the zero-search phenomenon.
#1. Find out what topics are trending in the zero-click search world
And write about them. Yes, Google may give instant answers, but the information is basic. You need to learn how to weigh organic opportunity with every search/query you look at. Some questions will have one true and definitive answer, such as “how many pounds are 50 kg”. So, this is a dead-end street in terms of producing content on the topic. You can try with open-ended questions where there is no one definitive answer, where your article will add value to the end-user, or at least according to Google. And, don’t forget, you are not just writing for machines, you are writing for humans too. The point should always be to satisfy their need for a specific knowledge first.
#2. Don’t try to rank for factual information and questions with a definitive answer
Obviously, Google is going to continue to dominate those. To make it into the featured snippet, you can target a search and add a list that includes suitable answers. People will be tempted to click on your article if they find that bit interesting/informational. Be even more concise than usual. Remember that “People Also Ask” element from above? You can get help from your article writers to get your website in there by picking the right topics and exploring what people may further want to know than a factual clear-cut answer.
So, to adapt, target your queries smartly, and your website will get more visitors. Because even without a click, your website name gets recognition.
As the zero-click search phenomenon continues to grow, the variety of ways to get your traffic back will expand too. Yes, Google may keep making it hard for article writers to rank their content and have it noticed by the end-users, but there are ways to go about it. Just keep producing content that informs others better than the SERP, and you’ll be on the winning path.