Zero Click Searches

February 10, 2020

Executive Summary: More recent design to the search engine results page is resulting in decreased traffic and clicks for some top-ranking websites. Zero Click Searches happen when users see your content on the Google search engine results page through featured snippets, but don’t actually click through to the website. Learn how you can detect Zero Click Searches and what next steps you should take.


As you may have noticed, there is a trend with organic website traffic and clicks – organic sessions and clicks may be decreasing month-over-month. You could have a fully optimized website (keyword focused meta data, schema mark-up, or JSON implemented, and targeted content), first page rankings for your most valued keywords and still be seeing this type movement in your website metrics. Industry experts are labeling this occurrence the “Zero Click Search.”

What are Zero Click Searches and Why is Google Using Them?

Google is continuously striving to deliver the ultimate user experience. With users wanting information faster and faster (data shows that a user now has an 8 second attention span) it makes sense that Google would move the search engine landscape to be more focused on search results that communicate more directly with users, are more engaging and are more supportive than your average listing. This is why they created Enhanced Search Results.

Enhanced Search Results (also called Universal Search Results) are stylized listings that have been designed to try to catch the attention of search users and provide them with the information they are looking for without having to explore the site that the information came from. They aggregate information from sites in Google’s index and showcase it concisely to simplify the search experience.

Below are examples of a few types of Enhanced Search Results:

Featured Snippet:

People Also Asked:

While Universal Results may deliver the fastest user experience, they also can have a negative effect on a webmaster’s ability to monitor their site performance. These types of listings reduce the amount of organic referral traffic you receive every day. If a Universal Result provides a user with the information they are looking for, that eliminates the need for the user to explore any further. A click never occurs even though a search has, hence the phrase “Zero Click Search.” This is becoming a more common circumstance. In fact, in June of 2019, for the first time ever, the majority of all browser-based searches on Google resulted in zero-clicks.

Image: A search result that could end with a Zero Click Search:

There is a catch: from an awareness perspective this would be considered a “Good Decrease in Traffic,” even though a click never occurred. Being shown in Universal Results is a significant gain from an SEO perspective as it holds the most valuable piece of real estate in the search engine results page. It’s an instant view for brand awareness. But it does create the need for SEOs to evaluate what they are truly looking to gain with their optimization efforts: site traffic or brand awareness. Is it a “win” that the user is educated and aware of the brand that is featured in the snippet, or is it more important to drive the user to your website, so that you can thoroughly educate them about the nuances of your brand? Only you can decide that.

How to Tell if You’re Being Impacted by Zero Click Searches

As we monitor our clients’ data, we are seeing trends that support the increase of zero click searches more frequently that are telltale signs of Zero Click Searches:

  • Steady, or increased impressions (impressions are how many links to your site a user saw in Google search results)
  • Decreased clicks/click-through rate
  • Decreased organic visits/sessions
  • Consistent or improved keyword rankings
  • Increased presence in universal results

The combination of those elements could be signaling significant shifting in your search market share. If you are experiencing similar performance changes, this is might be an indicator that your site is being impacted by this changing search behavior.

How is CMI/Compas Handling Zero Click Searches

Measurement is going to be the key to understanding the impact of this change. Our main focus starts with our ability to monitor key elements that will undoubtedly impact your market share in the search space. Once we review your performance and identify traffic shifts related to impactful Universal Search listings we determine:

Every brand’s objectives are different, so we customize a strategy for each of our clients that takes into consideration their goals, the keywords impacted and their current performance. The important thing is to be proactive, watch your traffic pattern closely and have a plan available that can help you ensure that you are getting the most exposure possible for all of your Zero Click occurrences.

For more information on how this change could be impacting your business, and how we can help you create a strategy for that will help you stay connected with your search audience, contact us today.