Zero-Click Search

What are Zero-click search results?

When a user types a query into a search engine, a number of results appear. Zero-click search results are when those users do not click onto a site, after typing their query.

For example: someone who searched “how many bee stings can kill you?” will immediately see the result in the search engine results page (SERP).

In this case it would be a featured snippet showing “The average adult could withstand more than 1,100 bee stings” Wow! That’s a lot of stings.

Although informative, these “zero-click searches” are bad for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Since the information was already showing in the search engine results page, the searcher did not have to click onto a website to find the information, thus taking away traffic from the site.

From January to December 2020, over 50% of searches on Google ended in zero-click searches. 46.5% of all searches on desktops were zero-click, and a staggering 77.2% of all searches on mobiles were zero-click.

So, what type of queries causes zero-click searches?

  • Instant answers (“Is this person dead? … “Yes”)
  • Definition of word/place/thing (“What’s the definition of insanity?”)
  • Map (“Are you lost?” No need to click on anything to find out)
  • Calculator (Maths: “What’s 9 + 10?”)
  • Knowledge panel (information about person/animal/place)
  • Featured snippets

What are the different types of featured snippets?

  • Paragraph (paragraph text box, most common type)
  • List (answer is in list form (1 to 10))
  • Table (provided in table form, not an actual table)
  • Video Snippet

RankBrain has a constantly evolving algorithm, and focuses on providing the best experience for users. According to RankBrain, User Experience (UX) is the number one priority. Therefore, it is essential to focus on UX when creating a site.

Our tips for the ultimate UX

Optimise for featured snippets by creating headlines that have your targeted keywords(s), and follow with a corresponding paragraph answering the question.

Answer can be 54-58 words.

To boost image ranking, add an image directly under your featured snippet, with an image alt tag that’s similar to the headline you used.

Keep in mind that it’s not always a good thing to optimise for featured snippets. It can damage your ranking, causing it to drop faster than Charlie Sheen can say “winning” after doing three lines of coke!

Using a no-snippet tag, that tells Google to skip certain parts of content, or even the entire content piece, will be taken out of the “eligible featured snippet content pool”. This will reduce the chance of it becoming a featured snippet.

You can also make use of the max snippet tag, and lower the length of some of the content on your site, to decrease the likelihood of your page being used for a snippet.

Zero-click search is a hot topic

SparkToro’s research in 2019 included app searches, through which clicks cannot be tracked. The report was considered extremely controversial, as the data was misleading.

Founder of Moz and Sparktoro, Rand Fishkin, created the report, citing that Google is taking away clicks from organic and paid search results. Google directly confronted and refuted this by stating that they’ve been sending more traffic to sites than ever before.

Our conclusion is that it’s not Google that’s changing their ways to gain more traffic for themselves, or eliminating feed to their direct competitors.

The search industry is changing. People are becoming more accustomed to searching for something, and getting the answer immediately.

Google will, for the first time ever, lose market share in 2020. Last year was a difficult year for everyone, including the SEO sector. We’re all moving towards a new future full of adventures and mysteries, and in these unknown and trying times, the only thing we, as SEO marketers can expect, is the unexpected.

Neill du Toit

Neill’s appetite for anything related to technology is ever-growing. Fresh out of school, and straight into the workforce, Neill was thrown into the deep end couple years ago, having to learn terms like “SEO” and “PPC”. Thankfully he’s a sponge for information, and it wasn’t long before he was moulded into our SEM guru, and he is currently busy completing his degree in marketing management. Neill has a dream of flying a plane, and would love to travel the globe one day.

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