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Do Zero-Click Searches Hurt or Help SEO Clients?

Google searches rose in 2020, perhaps as a result of the pandemic. An increasing number of those searches – 46.5 per cent on desktop, 77.2 per cent on mobile, and nearly 65 per cent overall – ended without the user clicking through to a different website, according to the recently published results of a SimilarWeb study.

Accelerating vaccine distribution suggests an end to – or at least a moderate easing of – the pandemic might be in sight, which would mean more personal mobility and, in theory, more ‘no-click’ or ‘zero-click’ searches. The question on everyone’s mind: is that good or bad for my business?

The answer: it depends. For businesses that compete directly with Google – think travel websites or reviews platforms like Yelp – it’s almost certainly bad. It may also be bad for publishers who rely on website traffic to sell ads; they’re supplying the content that Google uses to populate search results but not getting the benefit of new users.

For other businesses, the rise of zero-click searches might complicate performance tracking, but it isn’t clearly ‘bad.’ More zero-click searches means less website traffic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean less business; advertisers tend not to care whether a phone call comes from their website’s ‘Contact Us’ page or their Google My Business listing – a lead’s a lead.

With that in mind, there are plenty of opportunities to capitalize on the shift to no-click searching. Google My Business optimization will become even more important than it already is. Featured snippets will become increasingly valuable. And Google Ads will be more important than ever before.

“Rich information appearing in Google’s results may be, like billboard ads or press mentions, harder to track than website traffic, but it’s still exposing your brand name to an audience, building familiarity, and sharing information,” said Rank Fishkin, who published the SimilarWeb study results, to Search Engine Land. “In my opinion, the brands that find ways to benefit from that type of SERP exposure, even without a click, will be the ones who win at this new form of on-SERP SEO.”


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