This article was published on March 25, 2021

Marketers! ‘Zero-click’ SERPs will force us to get more creative

Can't fight Google for clicks, so play another game.

Marketers! ‘Zero-click’ SERPs will force us to get more creative
Dmytro Spilka
Story by

Dmytro Spilka

Founder & CEO, Solvid

Dmytro is also the founder of Pridicto. His work has been published in Shopify, IBM, Entrepreneur, WordStream, BuzzSumo, TNW, Campaign Monit Dmytro is also the founder of Pridicto. His work has been published in Shopify, IBM, Entrepreneur, WordStream, BuzzSumo, TNW, Campaign Monitor, and Tech Radar.

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Google’s attempts at returning answers to queries online in a quicker, easier manner has made the job of SEO more challenging for marketers. With the rise of ‘zero-click’ searches, is there any way for us marketers to stay competitive?

I definitely found zero-click SERPs a difficult pill to swallow as a marketer. However, as an internet user… I see it as a highly useful innovation. 

Searching Google for information about the weather, when my favorite sports team is playing next, or the net worth of Paul McCartney, the answers I’m looking for are likely to be displayed instantly at the top of the page — meaning that the information I need is right under my nose without the need for a click.

While this is definitely a convenient development, it makes my SEO much harder because I rely on attracting traffic to website pages via search engines. 

Now that the majority of searches on Google end without a single click taking place, can marketers enjoy the same level of SEO success as they had prior to the release of zero-click?

What is zero-click search?

Although the implementation of zero-click searching from Google has been a relatively recent development, the practice has quickly become the dominant form of search among users. So let’s begin by defining what exactly is; because it’s important to know our enemy.

Credit: SparkToro
As SparkToro highlights, the summer of 2019 saw the first time that zero-click searches overtook organic click and ad click searches. But how exactly does no-click work?

Zero-click is precisely what the name suggests: a search that results in the users having their query answered without having to make a click on to a website to find their desired information.

This means no clicking on any site featured on the SERP and having an answer displayed in a snippet at the top of the screen. 

The impact on PPC

It’s perfectly natural for marketers to experience jitters about jumping both feet first into a PPC campaign while such significant changes are taking place. Paid advertising can be our lifeblood when it comes to lead generation, but we need a strong indication that money won’t be thrown away on campaigns with a diminishing ROI. 

Speaking to Search Engine Land, Rand Fishkin, founder of SparkToro, said that he believes paid search CTR will fall in the wake of zero-click SERPs.

“I think paid search CTR will probably decline over the next few months,” he explained. “Each time Google changes how paid ads appear in the search results, ad CTR rises then slowly declines as more searchers get familiar with the ad format and develop ad blindness.”

As people begin to learn about how paid ads manifest themselves on Google’s results pages, we may see more searchers figuring out how to bypass paid placements. However, we also shouldn’t rule out Google adapting its SERPs in order to better accommodate paid advertisers and leverage more clicks for them. 

Given that Google earned $146.92 billion from advertising revenue in 2020 alone, it’s likely that that the search engine giants will act to ensure that its users continue to find value in its advertising platform — although the way in which the corporation can update its UX model to suit both those browsing and the needs of marketers remains to be seen. 

The battle for adaptation

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the wide world of SEO, it’s that Google is that it’s impossible to fight Google and come out unscathed. Sadly, in this game, it’s best to just adapt to its whims as quickly as you can to avoid disruption. 

This mantra is also true of zero-click; it’s worth working on ways for you to adapt your SEO to accommodate the new technology rather than looking for ways to beat the system. 

What do users expect from the web content that they navigate to? Zero-click searches mean that there’s an increasingly miniature market available for bite-sized informative content. Google has that base covered. 

As marketers, the landscape that we operate in is Darwinian to say the least. Our battles to adapt and evolve our methods of reaching customers are essential in leveraging growth. How can we evolve accordingly to work in a market that’s being gobbled up by zero-click? The answer may lie in shooting for high-quality, in-depth content

This approach to content could refer to data, analytics, or emerging trends. It may offer a deep dive into a specific topic or the sharing of first-hand experience of a subject that your website can offer an authoritative voice on.

The greatest marketers thrive on creativity, and zero-click challenges us to innovate and create content that captures the imaginations of an audience that craves more than a one-word answer. 

In the image above, we can see that Google has its bases covered when it comes to questions that many users will be looking for a straightforward answer for, such as ‘what’s the best word count for SEO.’ 

If Google is offering surface-level content, turn your attention towards offering in-depth content that brings substance to the table. 

It’s worth getting creative to outmaneuver Google’s algorithm. Marketers could even work to exploit the search engine’s SERP in creating video content that can be positioned higher within the results pages of Google. 

Revising your keyword insights

Strategic keyword selection can be an important part of caring for your SEO in the age of zero-click SERPs. 

While this process can be an expensive and time-consuming task when undertaken manually, you can utilize automated services like SEMRush or Ahrefs to target long-tail keywords at scale, review your competition and make more data-driven decisions to protect traffic flows.  

Here, the term ‘good seo’ appears to be difficult to rank for, with Ahrefs claiming that it would take backlinks from around 291 websites for you to even think about entering the top 10 SERPs. 

However, long-tail keywords require little-to-no backlinks to rank on Google and they’re capable of playing a key role in generating traffic towards your website.

It’s also important to monitor your progress in creating valuable, discoverable content to bring more value to Google’s SERPs. By utilizing analytical engines like Google Analytics or Finteza, you can tap into comprehensive visual breakdowns of the traffic your website receives.

While your content is designed to offer value to your audience, it’s not worth much if Google isn’t rewarding you with traffic because of users finding snippets of information in zero-click searches. 

By getting creative and adding more in-depth value to the content you create, you can put your website in a strong position to bypass the quantitative snippets that Google’s zero-click SERPs look to exploit and offer some rich, high-quality copy for your visitors to enjoy. 

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