Marketing analytics firm Jumpshot recently released a study showing that zero-click searches (searches that result in a user leaving without having clicked on an organic listing) have risen over the past several years. The study reveals that there was a 12% increase in zero-click searches in Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2016. Additionally, the study shows that there has been a similar increase in organic clicks to Google-owned sites.
Several factors have played a role in the increase of zero-click searches, and certain industries are more likely to be impacted than others:
• The increase in featured snippets allows users to get the information they are seeking directly on the search engine results page (SERP) without having to click through to the website.
• Categories most impacted are the ones that Google has entered, such as travel, hotels, flying, etc. Brands within these fields have far less opportunity with Google properties monopolizing market share.
• Paid search ads have seen a 75% increase in click-through rates (CTRs), while CTRs of organic searches have fallen by 13%. The removal of right-hand rail ads has pushed organic results further down the page, sometimes below the fold, and has certainly contributed to the rise in zero-click searches.
• The study also reveals that mobile makes up the majority of zero-click growth and has been most impacted by Google’s SERP features and Instant Answers. Google’s SERP features, along with paid search ads, can take up the entire mobile screen, pushing organic results below the fold.
So, what does all this mean for brands and marketers? Google’s SERP evolution has significantly altered the customer journey from search. Google has enabled consumers to get information, take action and transact without ever having to click through to a website. The implications of this will be felt by just about every company, but smaller brands may have even more reason for concern. Many speculate that larger brands with more resources will fare better in this new environment and will be better positioned to secure featured snippet listings. Regardless of company size, brands and marketers need to take notice and ensure their SEO strategy is focused on winning featured snippet listings through tactics such as content creation, schema implementation and mobile site optimization.