Zero-click searches deliver complete answers to search queries directly on the search engine results page, eliminating the need to click on external website links. They are becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly among mobile users, with more than 50% of searches resulting in no link clicks. This trend has significant implications for businesses aiming to drive website traffic.

Google continually strives to improve user experience by delivering information as quickly as possible while retaining users on its search engine rather than losing them to other sites. Zero-click searches help achieve these objectives simultaneously.

Although this development might appear detrimental for businesses seeking to drive more website traffic, zero-click searches offer numerous advantages. By embracing these searches, businesses can leverage them to their benefit.

What is Zero-Click Searches

A zero-click search is a search query where the answer is provided at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) in position #0, eliminating the need for users to click on a link to find the answer.

These searches can involve a short one or two-word answer to a simple question or a paragraph extracted directly from a source website that addresses the query without further investigation. Zero-click searches are best suited to specific types of queries, particularly those seeking instant, straightforward answers.

Common types of Zero Click Searches

1. Instant Answer

Many Google searches are done because people want a quick answer to a specific question. Perhaps they are arguing with their friend about which city is the capital of Australia. Or they want to know the age of their favourite actress. Instant answer features the answer in a few words in large font, often followed by more information and a link to the source webpage.

2. Featured Snippets

Featured snippets will display a selected paragraph from a webpage that specifically and concisely answers the search query. The source website will still be linked to, with the option for users to click to see the full article. However, the essence of their question will already have been answered by the snippet, reducing the need to continue reading.

3. Lists

Google will often feature answers to a question in the form of a list. This may be taken directly from a list within a page or be formed from the subheadings within an article.

4. Knowledge Panel

The knowledge panel appears as a block to the right-hand side of the screen. It gives basic information about a business, person or country, for example, displayed in list form. Businesses, musicians or artists can submit an information sheet to Google to be entered into their database so that their information is displayed in this way. This can be a useful way to make your business easily searchable. And by optimising keywords in your business description, you can improve your chances of being featured for searches related to your goods or services.

5. Google's Native Functions for Direct Answers

Google continually develops and refines its native functions to provide direct answers to specific search queries. These include:

  • Maps
  • Weather
  • Calculator
  • Dictionary
  • Finance (for currency conversions)

While some of these functions rely on collaborations with other organisations, such as Morningstar, for currency conversion data, they allow Google to offer solutions without depending on external websites. This approach accomplishes the dual goal of delivering clear, user-friendly information while keeping users engaged and bolstering Google's authority across various topics.

How should businesses react to zero-click searches?

Although the volume of no-click results may seem daunting – 33% of desktop searches and 55% of mobile searches according to the Perficient Digital report – there is still plenty of room for optimism:

  • Zero click searches are suited to a specific search type – one where the user is looking for a short, simple answer to a question rather than to browse or read more detailed information. For many businesses - particularly those targeting transactional searches – this will not detract from their usual users.
  • Paid ads are shown to take clicks from zero click results. So paid ads remain generally unaffected by the no-click format.
  • Branded Ads have a far higher click-through rate (CTR) than non-branded ads. Branded searches are therefore fare more likely to result in a click-through to your website.
  • Being featured in the zero-click search result, such as featured snippets or the knowledge panel, can greatly improve the authority and visibility of your website or business. Users will have greater trust in your site since Google is positioning you as the top source for the information they provide.

All the same, since zero-click searches continue to build momentum, there are several things businesses can do to adapt and keep up with these changes.

Strategies for Optimising Zero-Click Searches

In an era where zero-click searches dominate the search engine landscape, businesses must adapt their SEO strategies to stay relevant and visible. By employing the following tactics, you can optimize your content for zero-click searches and ensure your website remains competitive and easily discoverable:

  • Optimise for Carousels, Featured Snippets, Lists, and more – While these features might decrease overall CTR, they generally boost the CTR of the featured website. Include concise, clear answers to specific questions within your blog or website content to increase the likelihood of being featured in a snippet.
  • Create and submit a Knowledge Panel for your business – Ensure Google has detailed, optimised information about your brand to provide to users. You should also focus on optimising your listing to appear prominently in Local Packs, where Google features local businesses on maps.
  • Monitor CTR with Analytics – Instead of solely focusing on search volume, evaluate the CTR of keywords. A high search volume doesn't guarantee a high number of site visits. Some search terms have higher CTRs due to the nature of the content being sought (i.e., whether it's conducive to a zero-click search). Prioritise optimising keywords with high CTRs.
  • Emphasise long-tail search queries in your SEO strategy – These queries are more challenging for Google to provide zero-click answers to, ensuring higher CTRs. By focusing on long-tail keywords, your content will likely be clicked on by users searching for specific information.