What is zero-click search and how it affects search engine optimization

In 2020, nearly 65% of Google searches ended without a click through to a third-party website. This change in user behavior has had a significant impact on SEO marketing. No wonder marketers are scrambling to adapt.

Here’s a closer look at how zero-click search results affect SEO marketing and how you can adjust your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy to gain more visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).

What is a zero-click search result?

Zero-click search results display simple answers to users’ queries at the top of a SERP without sending them to another website.

Zero-click searches consist of no-click searches and low-click searches. A low-click search such as Google Maps, Shopping, Bookings, etc., allows users to complete actions without leaving Google’s properties. Meanwhile, a no-click search displays a short answer on the SERP such as a featured snippet, instant answer, definition, calculator, or knowledge panel.

How zero-click results impact SEO marketing

In a zero-click search environment, marketers can expect organic website traffic to decrease since fewer users click off a SERP to a marketer’s website. Many businesses will see a drop in leads and conversions from organic traffic because of lower click-through rates.

However, zero-click searches do offer the opportunity to boost brand awareness. Producing high-quality content that can secure “position zero” on SERPs as a featured snippet, for example, can increase your brand’s visibility and credibility even if the search doesn’t result in organic traffic to your website.

Meanwhile, the rise of voice search—which provides only the top-ranking SERP result—makes grabbing position zero on SERPs even more important. Optimizing for featured snippets can increase the chances your content will be provided in voice search results.

Some people may wonder, “Can you recover some lost website traffic using pay-per-click (PPC) marketing?” The verdict is still out.

Google is trying to keep users within its real estate by aggregating more results within fewer clicks and having all transactions done within its ecosystem (e.g., with Google Shopping). Consequently, merchants will lose the ability to promote a unique brand experience, build their list, use retargeting ads, and do cross-selling on their websites. On the flip side, search engines can’t afford to lose advertising revenue, so they’ll continue to evolve how SERPs display PPC ads in a zero-click environment to retain advertisers.

How to adjust your SEM strategy for zero-click search

In the brave new world of zero-click searches, you need to make every piece of the SEO puzzle fit together.

Here’s how to use zero-click search to your advantage:

Redefine your metrics

Zero-click searches will make it harder to measure SEO success with traditional metrics, such as sessions and users. You’ll need to use other metrics to gauge the health of your organic traffic:

  • Track impressions, which is the number of times your site appears on Google search results.

  • Set up a Google My Business (GMB) listing to track how often you appear on local search results.

  • Measure phone calls and how often people get directions to your business through your GMB listing.

  • Track your overall search position for a specific term.

  • Identify the search engine results features for which your keywords are showing up, then produce appropriate content for those features (e.g., reviews, FAQs, videos, events, recipes).

Revisit your keyword strategy for zero-click searches

To gain more visibility on zero-click results, identify the keywords with SERPs that have zero-click search features (e.g., question-based keywords.) Besides incorporating these terms into your keyword strategy, you can optimize current web pages that contain those keywords by improving load time, formating, and content quality.

For example, write page content as answers to questions commonly asked by your target audience. Break down the content into steps, provide in-depth information, and use visual content (e.g., images, infographics, videos) to increase engagement. You can also use an FAQ format or create FAQ pages to increase your ranking and visibility in question-based searches.

Win the zero-click results game with adaptive and creative SEO marketing

To take advantage of zero-click search, reevaluate your search engine marketing and keyword strategy. Also, revisit how you measure success and identify opportunities in your zero-click search results to add value to your target audience’s experience. Users are more likely to click through to your site if they find your zero-click results helpful.

As a first step, you need to determine where you are and where you want to be by conducting an SEO audit. Then, devise an SEO strategy that can adapt to the constantly shifting search engine marketing landscape. Make sure everything including structured data, Google My Business listing, BERT update, and local SEO, are working together to help you increase visibility.

Learn more about our SEO services. Contact us to see how we can help you thrive in a world of zero-click search.


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About the author:

Imaginuity SEO Team

Search engine optimization is essential to help your business rank higher in search results, generate more online visibility and produce more opportunities for customers and prospects to engage with you. The Imaginuity SEO team is made up of experts across search disciplines focusing on technical, on-page, off-page and local SEO as well as content, user experience and performance analytics. Our team is adept at creating efficient solutions for individual and multi-location solutions in both business to business and business to consumer industries.