Because it became the world’s leading search engine, ranking well on Google is crucial for many companies. SEO  can be critical  for their achievement. But, last june, for the first time, less than one out of every two Google searches is followed by a click on the results.

How many times a day do you use Google as a search engine? And how often do you find the answer to your question on the first page ? More and more often ! Either because Google provides it directly (translation, hotels, flights…), or because you just have to read the summary of the most relevant pages (the rich snippets),  gathered on the right column.

Zero-click trend

According to Jumpshot’s datas – marketing analytics firm – Rand Fishkin, founder of the specialized search engine Sparktoro, came up is this analysis : 50.3% of requests made on Google in the US in June 2019 did not result in any click. 

 

Credit: Rand Fishkin / SparkToro

 

Looking at the figures of second quarter of 2019, 45.25% resulted in organic clicks, 4.42% led to clicks on ads. but nearly 6% of clicks were directed to domains owned by Google (Maps, Youtube, Images, etc.). Which leaves just over 44% for the rest of the web.

As reported by Jumpshop’s data, here are several reasons of these changes:

  • Clicks are being encouraged by google’s increased use of snippets in search results. When customers can obtain the information that they’re looking for straight into search results, they’re not as willing to click on search outcomes.
  • Changes Google has generated to ads have contributed to a growth in the amount of searches which lead to clicks on ads.

According to Fishkin, the share of these “zero-click” searches has been steadily increasing since 2016 – they represented 43% of the total. In three and a half years, sponsored research results doubled from 2% to 4%.

A trend even more obvious on mobile

This trend is important because the majority of searches are done on Google. According to Jumpshot figures, 94% of online searches are carried out through a search engine belonging to Google (classic search, Google Images, Youtube, Google Maps, Google Shopping, etc.). Google’s competitors are struggling to convince Internet users, who are visibly satisfied with the results.

 Credit: Rand Fishkin / SparkToro

 

Another factor to consider is that we are increasingly using our mobile phone (and less and less often a computer) to do internet research. And on mobile, the zero-click trend is even more obvious: in June 2019, nearly 62% of searches stopped at the simple reading of the results obtained (vs. 33.7% on PC). Clicks so-called «organic» results (not sponsored) decreased by 14 points compared to 2016 and sponsored content have more than tripled.

Several factors can explain this phenomenon, such as the nature of mobile requests and the imposing place taken by the enriched results on our small mobile screens. This trend is not without consequences for users and publishers of Internet sites.

The end of SEO ?

Jumpshot’s data makes it crystal clear that SEO is changing and is no longer the same it was even just two or three years ago.

Zero-click searches don’t necessarily mean there are not any opportunities for companies.
Your business is still in front of consumers eyes by showing up for keywords. Appearing in a SERP can still provide authority and visibility and can be compared to being on an advertisement poster.
Fishkin pointed out the opportunities which are still reachable for SEOs by saying that “The big goals of advertising have always been to create awareness, increase exposure, and share information”.

He ended up with several options for companies such as :

  • To capitalize on zero-click searches
  • Submitting and optimizing content for properties like Google Images, Google Maps and Youtube
  • Identifying keywords that have greater CTR
  • Reducing investment in SEO and invest in paid ads

Wrapping up

SEO as we knew it is disappearing and evolving. Agencies and businesses will have to adapt if they want to move forward. Behavior is an ever-changing thing, that’s the reason why it’s essential for companies to invest in long-term search engine optimization campaigns to follow up situations like this.