What are Google zero-click searches and why are they important?

Google’s algorithm is evolving constantly, focused on providing users with the best digital experiences. On their list of “10 Things We Know They Are True”, user experience ranks #1. So, no matter how small or big their changes and updates are, Google’s aim is to always ensure that searchers get the information and the experience they desire. To enhance search results and allow users to quickly find what they are looking for, Google also introduced zero-click searches.

But what are they and why does everyone talk about them?

Read on to:

  • Learn what zero-click searches are
  • Understand how they affect users
  • Discover their effect on SEO
  • Find out how to optimize for them

What are Google zero click-searches?

Zero-click searches refer to search results that appear at the top of the first search engine results page (SERP). They answer queries in-search, allowing users to find relevant information without making any further clicks.

Google introduced this experiment on March 13, 2020, with the aim to eliminate multiple results that searchers don’t really need and to satisfy the user intent faster.

In other words, people would often get the results that didn’t answer their questions which led them to make a few more clicks to find what they were looking for.

With zero-clicks searches, this has changed. 

For instance, if users type the phrase “keyword stuffing” on Google, the search engine assumes that they want to know what that is. 

So, it places the definition in a featured snippet to allow them easily find out.

However, if they enter the question “how to avoid keyword stuffing”, which is a more specific topic, Google can still provide a zero-click search result that includes tips.  

The search engine can help users transform kilometers into miles with a single search:

And even tell what the time in different locations is:

There are three major types of featured snippets:

  • Paragraph: These include an answer in a box with or without images and they are the most common type of featured snippets.
  • List: These appear when Google provides an answer in the form of a list. 
  • Table: In this case, the search answer is provided in a table.
  • Video: As the name itself suggests, the video featured snippets appear in the form of a video.

How zero-click searches affect users

A survey by HubSpot reveals that 51.47% of users believe that zero-click searches will help them find information easier. 

While 23.6% claim that the ability to find an answer will stay the same, 21.56% think that with featured snippets it would be more difficult to find what they seek.

[Source: Hubspot]

When asked about the accuracy of search results, 47.24% say that featured snippets will make results more accurate. 

31.85% of users believe search results will stay the same and 29.92% think this change will make results less accurate.

[Source: Hubspot]

According to SparkToro, 50.33% of all searches are zero-click searches. It means that now more than half of all Google’s searches result in no click. 

In fact, 112 million keywords in the Ahrefs US database have featured snippets.

Google decides which keywords and content will select to show on position zero. 

For businesses that produce content and do SEO, this can mean losing meaningful website traffic, leads and conversions since they reduce the number of clicks.  

Wikipedia lost 21% of its traffic after the launch of zero-click searches.

However, while the only thing business can do in this situation is to optimize their content for featured snippets, they should also look on the bright side of it. 

On the one hand, featured snippets allow businesses to steal traffic from the first result in the SERPs. Ahrefs reveals that 8.6% of clicks go to featured snippets whereas 19.6% of the clicks go to the first natural result placed below the snippet. 

While the numbers are not enormous, websites that appear on position zero still take significant traffic. 

On the other hand, zero-click searches don’t necessarily mean zero opportunity. Some of the biggest business’ goals is to generate awareness and increase exposure.

And this is a great opportunity to build familiarity and credibility among audiences. 

[Source: SparkToro]

Ahrefs analyzed 2 million search queries to find out that most of the featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords.

[Source: Ahrefs]

And, these are the top 30 words that they found to be most frequently used in them:  

[Source: Ahrefs]

How to optimize for Google zero-click searches

Whether your goal is to generate brand awareness and credibility or to increase your website traffic, ranking on featured snippets is beneficial.

Here are a few tips that can help you optimize for position zero in search: 

  • Target question-type search queries: Conducting keyword research will help you select question-based keywords and find out what words mostly appear in featured snippets. You should find out what questions your audience mostly asks and the focus on their whats, whys, hows, whens and whos. Tools like Twinword Ideas or KWFinder can provide you with a wide range of suggestions. 
  • Create high-quality content: Content that ranks on a zero-click search result is well researched, valuable and information-rich. This is the content that Google finds relevant for its users and answers their questions the best.  
  • Pay attention to structure: The way you structure your content can also influence whether your pages can rank on a featured snippet. Ensure you use header tags to allow Google to index your content. Also, focus on dividing the content into paragraphs and points to make it easily readable.
  • Include images: Paragraph featured snippets with images are quite eye-catching. This is why Google often opts for choosing content rich in visuals. Images not only break the monotony of text, but they also keep the users engaged. However, the images you use should be relevant, high quality and have a descriptive alt text.
  • Use facts and stats: Content that includes relevant numbers and facts is more relevant in the eyes of Google. This is why you should be very factual and start using comparison charts, graphics, statistics and other useful numbers that will be valuable for the users.  
  • Be concise: It is true that Google loves long-form content. But you will only rank on position zero by being concise and specific. This doesn’t mean that you should write short pieces of content but rather to break them into meaningful paragraphs of about 45 words. 
  • Include a FAQ section: Since the search engine prefers to rank question keywords in snippets, you may want to have a FAQ page on your website. 

Key takeaways about Google zero click searches

Google’s zero -click searches dominate search results. Quick answers are being displayed in paragraphs, lists, tables and videos to allow users to easily find what they are looking for without making any further clicks.

These trending forms are beneficial for businesses since they can bring higher traffic and at the same time generate awareness and boost their credibility. However, featured snippets also have their disadvantages. They can cost websites clicks and potential clients which can ultimately affect their sales. 

There isn’t a golden ticket that can rank your site on position zero. However, there are some steps that you need to take to optimize for it.

To increase the chances of your keywords to appear on featured snippets, make sure you:

  • Focus on question-based keywords
  • Produce quality content
  • Use images
  • Incorporate relevant stats and facts
  • Pay attention to structure
  • Include FAQ page
  • Be concise

These factors can help you strengthen your marketing opportunities.

This guest blog article was written by Maja Dukadinovska, a content specialist at Digital Silk. She writes for business and for pleasure, focusing on design and digital trends. She is allergic to fluff and poor Wi-Fi.