Algorithms SEO

After organic searches, zero-clicks are the second, most-common type of search in Google. They account for 25.6% of CTR on desktops and 17.3% of CTR on mobile devices. This actually makes sense, given that Google’s algorithm has become so refined and can instantly give answers to your questions.

Although the zero-click concept is incredible for users, website owners are starting to get worried that it will completely destroy their traffic. More and more people get answers to their queries without having to visit third-party sites. As you can presume, this is a problem for everyone who makes money online.

In this article, we’ll talk about different types of zero-click searches and how they can impact you.

What are zero-click searches?

As the name implies, zero-click searches are a type of Google search where a user doesn’t have to click on anything. When you type in a specific query, the answer appears instantly at the top of the SERP in the form of a snippet, definition, rich answer, or something similar.

The main value of a zero-click result is that the users don’t have to visit additional pages. Furthermore, they can rest assured that this is the best possible answer to their question. This is an ideal situation for Google, which is always trying to make users’ life easier.

How do zero-click searches affect websites?

As the zero-click concept started making noise, more and more businessmen became worried about its impact on traffic. The last thing they need is to lose all these visitors that would previously land on their pages, potentially buying products and services.

Although some website owners perceive this as a malicious practice by Google, which is now “stealing their traffic,” the search engine company claims there’s a silver lining. According to them, the zero-click concept is actually increasing the number of visitors to the page with a snippet.

If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Google features a video, paragraph, or definition at the top of the page taken from a specific article or YouTube. In a way, this is as if the search engine endorses the particular content. So, if a person needs more info about a topic, they are more likely to click on that result.

Unfortunately, this makes life harder for anyone below.

As you well know, the second, third, fourth, etc., results in Google getting significantly less organic traffic compared to the first one. Now that we have snippets and other quick answers, most people stop their search without visiting any other page. Those who need more info are likely to visit the first result (the one with the snippet).

Everyone else will get their crumbs. In other words, life should get much harder for anyone below position one.

In a way, the zero-click concept increases the competition within SERPs. Compared to the years prior, it’s no longer enough to rank second or third. If you wish to make an impact, you need to be on top.

Keep in mind there are some discrepancies when it comes to zero-click results. The impact is unevenly distributed across industries, so certain products and services aren’t affected as much.

Types of zero-click results

Nowadays, you can find zero-click results on all devices. They’re especially common for voice searches and on mobile devices because these users are looking for direct answers. They don’t necessarily wish to read about a particular topic.

We can classify all zero-click results into six categories:

Featured snippets

Featured snippets are the most common type of zero-clicks. As the name implies, they’re short excerpts (or snippets) of texts appearing on the top of Google.

These results appear above every else at the so-called zero position. We can differentiate four types of featured snippets:

Paragraphs

Paragraphs are the best for questions such as: “Who is…,” “What is…,” and “How to….” In such cases, most users wish to learn more about a particular topic, and Google provides direct answers compressed into a few sentences.

Keep in mind that the paragraph doesn’t have to be a 1:1 copy from a site. It can be a mishmash of several sentences extracted from the article. In other words, Google creates its own paragraph by extrapolating the most relevant information.

List snippets

As the name implies, these answers come in the form of bullet or number lists. They’re ideal for step-by-step guides. For example, Google uses them to explain processes where you finish one thing after another.

Alternatively, we can use them for listing entries (US minorities, common car parts, etc.)

Tables

Tables are a variation on list snippets. Aside from having several entries, they provide additional data for each one of them. For example, the search engine uses it to show the largest cities in the US and the population for each one of them. Or you can see the most popular cars in 2020 and how many sales were made for each one.

Tables are also suitable for best/worst lists. On the left-hand side, Google will show the five best entries, and on the right, the five worst entries within a category.

Videos

In some cases, the text isn’t enough to convey a message. In these situations, Google uses videos. This format is perfect for various “How To” queries.

Definition

The definition is a shorter version of the paragraph snippets. It still provides an answer to questions, but it’s much more on point. This type of format is perfect for situations where people aren’t necessarily interested in researching the topic. Instead, they just need a clear and concise answer to a question.

If we were to speculate, Google provides definitions when people are less likely to click on any of the results. In other words, this is an example of a “true” zero-click search.

Rich Answers

Rich Answers, previously Quick Answers, are direct answers from Google. These aren’t excerpts from any of the articles, and the search engine doesn’t credit any of the websites. All these answers are a part of the public domain, so there’s no need to feature third-party platforms.

According to the company, they use Rich Answers when they wish to provide factual answers (like answers to mathematical equations or things of that sort).

Knowledge Graph

Knowledge Graph is another Google brainchild that has been around for a while. It comes in various shapes and forms, such as:

Carousel

Google shows results in the form of a carousel, allowing users to scroll to the right and to the left. These are especially popular for animals, movies, flowers, and listing other things. Carousels are somewhat similar to bullet lists, although in this particular case, you can click on each entry to open a page with new results.

Unlike definitions and paragraphs, the search engine extracts results from various pages.

Knowledge panel

In the case of panel data, Google generates the usual list of organic results. The only difference is that you also get a panel to the right providing some quick info on the topic. For example, if you were looking for company data, the panel will show things such as stock price, time of the founding, founders, etc.

By clicking on the panel, you’ll be sent to an informational page (such as Wikipedia), where you can read more about the topic.

Branded/personal panels

As the name implies, a combined Knowledge Graph mixes several solutions. You get a panel to the right, but also images on the top of the SERPs, plus some extra information below them.

This form is especially common for public personas such as politicians, actors, athletes, etc.

Local search

If you’re looking for a bar, restaurant, or handyman in your vicinity, Google will generate a map pinpointing the locations of nearby establishments and companies. People often use the suffix “Near me” to access this data.

Below the map, the search engine also lists all the companies, their star ratings, and other relevant information. Users can click on any of these results to check out the place.

Maps

Maps are especially popular if you wish to go someplace. You can usually access them by typing queries that include “Travel to…” or something similar.

The search engine uses your geolocation to determine where you are. Then, based on your query, it will show several options as to how to get to the destination.

Calculator

Google also has a calculator that people can use for basic operations. You can access it by typing something like “How much is 100 plus 100?” Google will generate the calculator, showing the equation and the result.

Can I take advantage of the zero-click concept?

Despite all its flaws, savvy experts can still take advantage of the zero-click concept. As with everything else pertaining to SEO, you need to optimize your pages so that the search engine shows you at the top of SERPs.

Here are a few ways to do that:

Copy the format

You should start by checking the zero-click format for a particular query. Is it a carousel or a panel? Does it show a map or provide a definition? Based on this, you can determine what to include in your article.

For example, if the zero-click is a bullet list, you should include a similar list to your post. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’ll instantly be shown at the top, but it’s a good start.

Provide direct answers

Content writers often make the mistake of trying too much. They use well-polished phrasing to appeal to their readers. Unfortunately, this practice doesn’t work on Google.

If you wish to rank for definitions and paragraphs, you should provide to-the-point answers within your articles. Besides creating nicely formatted sentences, your chances increase if you have topical authority and if you’re already ranking on page one for that query.

People Also Ask

The “People Also Ask” section lists related questions and provides answers to each one of them. In a way, these are also zero-click results. Although you have to click on a box to reveal an answer, you won’t have to leave the page.

These boxes give you another opportunity to rank, and you should definitely miss this. Try to address each one of these questions within the article, and provide succinct answers to them.

Branded panel

If you have a company, you can benefit from branded panels. Basically, Google determines whether or not it will add panels for certain organizations and famous people. It usually does so by linking to a Wikipedia page.

Although having a branded panel for your company doesn’t necessarily increase your traffic, it makes it easier for people to find you. Just create a cool Wikipedia page for your brand, and make sure to add all the relevant data pertaining to the organization.

Local listings

Out of all these things, it’s easiest to get featured on a local panel.

To be eligible, you should first create a Google My Business account. Make sure that your profit is verified, and then add all the relevant data such as work hours, location, phone, etc. Whether or now Google decides to feature you depend on distance from a user, relevance for a query, and the company’s reputation.

Even if you’re not featured among the top results, you’ll still appear on Google maps.

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