A new Semrush study found that zero-click Google search results are not as bad as they were made out to be in SEO circles over the past few years.

Where clicked. Here’s a summary of desktop Google search results:

Image credit: Semrush
  • Organic clicks 45.1%

  • Zero clicks: 25.6%
  • Keyword change (zero-click, query refinement): 17.9%
  • Clicks to other Google properties (eg images, news and shopping) 9.7%
  • Paid clicks: 1.8%

Here’s an image that summarizes the results for mobile Google search:

Image credit: Semrush
  • Organic clicks 43.1%
  • Keyword change (zero-click, query refinement): 29.3%

  • Zero clicks: 17.3%
  • Clicks to other Google properties (eg images, news and shopping) 10.3%
  • Paid clicks: 0.022%

Semrush also found that searchers spend very little time analysing search results. This is an interesting finding, but perhaps not surprising. The majority of searchers decide what to click within 15 seconds.

Why are there zero clicks? This question has many answers. We know that consumers want quick answers. Google now offers more answers than ever through a variety of search features (e.g. time, weather, movie schedules, and even direct answers).

Methodology. Methodology. The study was done by Semrush in May using an anonymous sample of 20,000 U.S. mobile and desktop users. Semrush analysed 609,809 total search queries (308,978 for desktop, 1463,390 for mobile).

Semrush vs. previous studies. SparkToro conducted a pair of studies in 2019 and 2020. These reports are covered by Search Engine Land.

  • 2019: 49% are no-click Google searches
  • 2020: Nearly 65% of zero-click Google searches were achieved in 2020

Both studies had, let’s just say, problems. Barry Schwartz highlighted some of these issues on Search Engine Roundtable.

SparkToro did a second analysis this year and last, and I would have predicted that Google zero-click searches would average around 85%. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

You can read the study. I highly recommend it. Semrush’s Zero Clicks Study.

Why do we care? There has been much talk about Google stealing clicks. Danny Sullivan, Google’s director of marketing, provided more context by pointing out the fact that Google sends more traffic each year to websites and laying out some logical arguments why certain queries don’t end with a click.

Two things are possible to be true, however: Google can send more visitors to websites than ever before and reduce the number searches that would otherwise have gone to websites if it doesn’t introduce its own search features or products that directly compete with organic search.

My opinion (as well the opinions of many smart SEO professionals that I know) is that past zero-click studies were misleading at best and nonsense at worst. They got way too much attention because the math never added up. I appreciate Semrush’s efforts to provide more context and a more nuanced (read, less biased) analysis.

Search Engine Land’s first post, Google Search Study: 25.6% Desktop, 17.3% Mobile are Zero-Click appeared first on Search Engine Land.