A zero-click search result occurs when a user visits Google, enters a search string, and never leaves the Google ecosystem. This typically occurs because they click to YouTube, see an answer snippet, or click a link to Google Maps, etc. It's a huge barrier to searchers clicking through to your site.
In theory, a zero-click search result shouldn’t be problematic because the user finds the information they are looking for. In practice, however, regulators worry about Google having a monopoly in the search engine market and everything related to it.
More than half of all Google searches keep users inside of Google’s products and services. Having one organization exert that kind of control over the flow of information is problematic for marketers. If Google is your main source of leads or revenue, Google listings are going to remain incredibly important.
I’m going to focus here on B2B lead generation marketers (the kinds of clients I work with at Kayak Marketing). To learn more about the issue as a whole, I recommend this excellent and well-researched piece on zero-click search results in Google.
What Zero-Click Search Results Mean for Marketers
On one hand, Google is still the most powerful tool for attracting qualified search visitors to your website. But on the other, if fewer searchers are making their way to non-Google destinations, then there literally isn’t as much traffic to go around.
The obvious takeaway here is that SEO, even when it’s done well, is going to be more competitive and less profitable as a rule. Fewer people are going to come to your website because they aren’t really engaging with non-Google search results at all.
I think that’s certainly a possibility, but one that might be overstated just a bit. The searches that land in Google’s ecosystem tend to be related to news, directions, and hours of business. People are asking Google what time a movie plays, or about reviews for local restaurants. However, they still aren’t asking search engines to help them choose a new home or suggest a lead generation firm like ours.
Along the same lines, having Google move people towards zero-click search results doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing for your business. If your website contains fresh content, and you have accounts on YouTube, Google Business, then some of that traffic still might end up coming to you. In those situations, you can bypass your competitors altogether using the resources Google has already provided.
If the market for organic search usage is shrinking, then the space at the top of the listings is going to get more valuable.
To put it another way, the businesses that are winning with SEO will keep winning, but there will be fewer of them.
The Real Lesson of Zero-Click Search Results
Those of us who live in the world of digital marketing and SEO will continue to analyze zero-click search results. So, the ideas and conclusions you read six months from now might differ from the ones I’ve offered today.
That said, there are two obvious lessons at work: never get complacent, and don’t get too dependent on one source of traffic or leads.
Every time Google changes its algorithms, or the market shifts towards one social platform or another, we encounter change. Given that change is the only constant in our industry, it’s accepted that current challenges and best practices will persist.
Search engine optimization isn’t going away anytime soon. The debate over Google’s place in the mix – not to mention society as a whole – will continue.
What matters for now, though, is that we stay informed and make the most of the resources we have to find new customers and differentiate ourselves from the competition.
That’s the name of the game no matter what might be changing all around us.