Zero-Click Searches – What Are They?

23 November 2021
by Archie Williamson
5 mins
Zero-Click Searches – What Are They?

Zero-click searches are defined as those that satisfy the search intent of a user through information delivered at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) and end without a click to another web page.

With Google finding new ways to provide the content that users need within search results, a rise in zero-click searches is inevitable. While the concept may be frustrating for brands that want to maximise metrics such as click-through rates and organic traffic, zero-click searches are not a problem for consumers. On the contrary, a HubSpot survey found the majority of users believe these searches make it easier for them to find information.

This makes sense, as people would rather spend less time and effort getting what they need. Zero-click searches are also becoming more prominent due to the rise of mobile and voice searches. Short, practical answers are preferable here. The type of query is also a factor. Database-style searches about names and dates, dictionary definition searches and local ‘near me’ searches are prime candidates for zero-click journeys.

How many zero-click searches are there?

Google addressed the zero-click phenomenon directly earlier this year, in a response to a study by Search Engine Land that found almost two-thirds of Google searches are completed without a user clicking through to another web page. Google believes these findings are based around a “flawed methodology” that misses the point in terms of how people use Search.

In order to “set the record straight”, Google revealed that it still sends people to websites “billions of times per day”, and provided additional context about zero-clicks in relation to search habits and behaviour. Google says people often “reformulate” or reword queries immediately, which means the initial search would end without a click. Others are merely on the lookout for “quick, factual information” and don’t want to engage further.

Google searches are also supporting a significant number of “connections”. These are forms of action taken after a user looks for a local business or restaurant. Rather than clicking on a link, users instead call the business, reserve a table, order a takeaway or get directions to a specific location. While these could be zero-click searches in essence, they definitely are beneficial for both the user and the business.

Are zero-click searches valuable?

The last point highlights how zero-click searches can be valuable, even if they are not part of a ‘traditional’ journey where someone clicks through, spends time on a website and then makes a purchase. More than four billion connections are driven by local search, according to Google. Even without a click, Search is delivering helpful information and connecting consumers with businesses directly.

And while rich results are very useful for searches, website listings aren’t going away. In fact, Google says it now surfaces 26 blue links on average for a single search made on mobile, which is considerably more than the 10 links it showed previously. Google says its focus is now on organising information “in more helpful ways” rather than relying on just links to do the heavy lifting. With this in mind, businesses should not be worrying about the negative effects of zero-click searches.

What does a zero-click SEO strategy look like?

Because the term ‘zero-click’ conjures up images of people not engaging with your content, ranking for these searches appears to be a futile endeavour. Surely, you always want to aim for clicks and views? As noted previously, there is now value in being part of the helpful search features that provide answers and assistance right on the first page of SERPs, even if there are no clicks afterwards.

Think of optimisation here as a supplement to the work you do to get your blue links ranked. Tailoring your SEO strategy for zero-clicks should therefore be centred around rich results. You want blocks of text and contact information showing up in the boxes that take prime position in search results. The six types of results closely associated with zero-clicks are:

  • Featured Snippets
  • Knowledge Panel
  • Instant Answer
  • Definition
  • Map
  • Calculator

While every one of these will boost your real estate in search results, Featured Snippets are arguably the most important overall as they include a blue link at the bottom, which can really help to drive organic traffic levels. A study by Ahrefs also found more than one in 10 searches display a featured snippet.

Optimising for featured snippets is tied to the quality of your written content. If you don’t have access to an in-house creative team, you can outsource copywriting to an agency offering SEO services. This is recommended because Search Engine Journal notes that “short and precise” answers to a particular query are the best way to rank for snippets. These answers need to be included in a more in-depth blog or article, so excellent writing is key.

To find topics that have zero-click potential, you can use ranking reports for your existing content. Ideally, you want keywords that are already ranking well and have already been included in featured snippets. You can then focus on coming up with better definitions and explanations. Tailoring blocks of text based on snippets that are currently ranking for keywords is also recommended. That might mean opting for list-style posts or tables. The latter is prevalent for comparison queries.

All rich results are closely aligned with search intent, so always be on the lookout for new ways to create and update content to better meet the needs of your target audience. And because local SEO is a factor, keep your Google My Business (GMB) profile updated regularly.

Zero-click searches are not something to be feared. They can put you front and centre in SERPs, which is incredibly valuable in terms of brand visibility and awareness. If you need to tweak your SEO strategy to get the most from zero-click searches, Atlas SEO can help. We offer a range of services, including content creation that can get snippets of text on the first page of Google. Contact us today to find out more.


Have a question?