What The Heck Is Zero Click Searches?

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: March 19th, 2020 | Updated: March 7th, 2024

If you rely on your website for business, you need to understand how search engines work to get the most traffic and leads. There is always something to learn, some unfamiliar term. Well, here is one that everyone relying on search traffic should know – ZERO CLICK SEARCHES.

It sounds mysterious, is it a new thing where you need not click anything, the computer just reads your mind? Maybe someday, but not today. How can you search for something without clicking on some search results? You see zero-click searches all the time. You just didn’t know what the new term was.

When you enter a search term and the answer is already there, displayed at the top of a search engine, that is a zero-click search. You don’t have to click on a link to go to another page. The search results in zero website referrals, no web property receives a visit from the search.

ADA Compliance Checklist Search Result

The answers are provided by a variety of search engine results features like:

  • Featured Snippets
  • Paid Ads
  • Videos
  • Pictures
  • Shopping Results
  • Knowledge Cards

This information takes over the top positions on the SERPS, so there is no need to click on certain types of search results. Because mobile and voice users are typically looking for short and practical answers to specific questions, it’s common to use Zero-click searches.

This makes a better search experience for users because they get the answers they are looking for with less effort and time spent. However, this makes it hard for content creators and SEO professionals who rely on organic traffic.

The types of searches that often end with no further clicks off the Search Engine Results Page include:

  • Database type searches: date and time, currency conversion, sports scores
  • Dictionary/encyclopedia type queries: “definition of” “what is”, etc.
  • Map searches: Local searches such as “Texas BBQ restaurant near me”

Zero-click searches have progressively grown year after year until they are almost the default result from a query. According to clickstream data company, Jumpshot, less than half of Google searches result in a click on an organic or paid search result. In 2019, Zero-click searches for desktop users increased by 9.5% and increased by 11% for mobile users.

Why should this concern you? It means that there is less traffic to your website and fewer opportunities for leads.

What can digital marketers, brands and content creators do when searches end on Page One because Google provides the answers directly? You need to adjust your SEO strategy and learn how to format content so Google will find it easy to display information that satisfies the query.

Google Search Results

How to optimize for Zero-Click Searches:

Answer Questions

When you enter a keyword, normally Google returns a “search snippet” based on the meta title and description or other content from the page. Google sometimes shows listings with the snippet describing a page coming before a link to a page, not after. These are called Featured Snippets or “answer boxes.” Being featured gives your brand additional exposure in search results.

Google looks at a page to see if there is content that will make a good featured snippet to answer the user’s search request. If so, it goes further up on the page. Searches phrased in the form of a question are especially likely to appear as featured snippets.

The first thing you can do to get SERP Featured Snippets is to write great content, and format content to match the different types of featured snippets, paragraphs, lists or tables. But featured snippets can help you gain more organic traffic without creating new content or backlinks. You can just rework a page so it has short and precise answers to relevant questions.

Write a headline that includes your target keywords with a paragraph that answers the targeted search question in about 54-58 words. List formats work well for “how-to” and “why” queries looking for step-by-step guides. Tables work best for answering comparison queries.

A really useful tool to find targeted search questions is a website titled AnswerThePublic. Enter a keyword you want to target and Answer The Public gives you every phrase or question people are asking based on that keyword.

Click-Through-Rate Data on Google Analytics


Also, when you choose keywords to target, factor in click-through rates. There are many SEO tools nowadays that offer a CTR (click-through-rate) metric. You want people to see your featured snippet but also click through to your website. Don’t provide so much information that people won’t need to go further to your site.

Image Optimization

Zero Click Searches also return images. If you don’t have an image in your post, Google will get them for other websites. To have a better chance for your image to appear, put it directly under the paragraph, list or table. Add an image alt tag similar to the heading in the content you are trying to feature.

Other ways to encourage Google to grab your content for featured snippets include:

  • Use headers, h1, h2, h3, etc., to break up and organize your content. Well-structured articles are more likely to be chosen for featured snippets.
  • Use structured data (Schema markup.) When added to a webpage code, schema markup creates an enhanced description that makes it easier for Google to know what the content is about. Known as a rich snippet, it appears in search results.
  • Use SEMrush to find competitors’ snippets and optimize your content for the same keywords and topics. You can also find which featured snippets you’re already ranking for.

Man Searching On Google

The times they are a-changin’

It seems kind of unfair that Google is answering so many queries with these zero-click search results like featured snippets, knowledge cards, videos and so on. It is like they are killing content and pushing us all down the page.

There is one thing you can do to get in the higher positions, and that is to use paid ads. But not everyone has the budget for that. Just focus on making your content better and follow some of the guidelines here. Do that and you will have a fighting chance against the big boys, like the Zero-Click Searches you always find at the top of the page from Wikipedia.

Staying ahead of the SEO game is always a challenge. It will just get harder as technology like Artificial Intelligence and Google’s algorithms evolve.

If you’re having trouble getting the traffic you want because of Zero-Click Searches stealing your traffic, PrimeView’s SEO team is ready to help. Contact us soon and we can work out a plan to get you more featured snippets and other top of page search results.