By looking at how much of Google’s search traffic is left for anyone other than Google itself, a recent study by SparkToro found that 49% of searches in the first quarter of 2019 didn’t produce a click through to a website. In June, for the first time, the majority of Google searches (50.33%) reportedly ended without a click on an organic or paid search result.
As the volume of zero-click searches appears to be increasing over the years and more searches end without users clicking through to a page, this means that there can be fewer marketing opportunities for brands and publishers, and so they are likely to have to develop their own audiences.
The majority of zero-click and paid search growth happened on mobile devices, where overall search volumes are highest and growing. The latest update includes data from the second quarter of 2019, in which 49.76% of Google searches ended without a click.
The study estimates that 94% of all U.S. searches occur on a Google property (including Images, YouTube and Maps). According to Rand Fishkin of SparkToro “That makes them a clear monopoly in search”.
Fishkin also thinks that paid search CTR will probably decline, because historically each time Google changes how paid ads appear in the search results (like the late May shift to the black ‘Ad’ labels in mobile search results), ad CTR rises, then slowly declines as more searchers get familiar with the ad format and develop ‘ad blindness’.
Often, many zero-click searches are answered by a simple featured snippet such as Knowledge panels or Google Instant Answers, which are just database entries featuring facts and data. While this makes the search experience better for users who receive their answers with less effort and time spent, it creates problems for SEOs who rely on organic traffic (which is declining across many industries because of this), to run their online businesses.
Opportunities are still available for SEOs though, as the big goals of advertising have always been to create awareness by exposing a brand name to an audience, building familiarity, and increasing exposure by sharing information. So the brands that find ways to benefit from that type of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) exposure through featured snippets, structured data etc. – even without a click – will be the ones who win at this new form of on-SERP SEO which provides answers directly without the need for clicking for more information.
If you’d like to know more about how this change may impact your Google Ads and SEO campaigns, please contact us for further details.