Every year, new trends and technologies come along that dramatically alter the landscape of search engine optimization (SEO). Among the most impactful of these recent trends is the rise of no-click searches.
In this article, we'll take a look at what no-click searches are, the challenges they pose and how you can develop an SEO strategy to take advantage of them.
What Are No-Click Searches?
A no-click search occurs when a person using a search engine such as Google can access the information that they're looking for without ever clicking on a link. Google and other search engines have come a long way in identifying what the user is looking for and displaying that information in the most convenient way possible. This means that, for many searches, users can read selected snippets on the search results page and find what they are looking for without having to click on a link and visit a website directly.
While it makes sense that search engines will provide the most convenient possible experience to their users, the rise of no-click searches can present challenges to online marketers.
How No-Click Searches Affect Your SEO Strategy
Providing visitors with the information that they're looking for through quality content and carefully targeted keywords is the backbone of attracting new visitors to your website. Thanks to the rise of no-click searches though, many search engine users are now able to find what they are looking for without having to visit your website. That means that they never improve your site's ranking by visiting it directly, and they never see the carefully crafted content you've created to push them towards a purchase. In many cases, no-click searches enable a would-be visitor to draw information from a website without providing any value to the website owner.
The most troubling part of all this for your SEO strategy is the fact that no-click searches are becoming increasingly prevalent. In February 2018, 61.03% of all mobile searches and 34.28% of all desktop searches resulted in no-click searches. While many searches that fall under the no-click search category amount to users looking up simple facts such as the boiling point of water or how far away a city is, these numbers are still concerningly high.
With every challenge though, there is opportunity. Few industries are more capable of adapting to changing trends and technologies than SEO, and those who can adapt to the rise of no-click searches, stand to gain a lot.
How to Leverage No-Click Searches
No-click searches aren't going away anytime soon. As Google continues to refine its user experience and develop tools such as voice search that allows users to access information without even having to look at their screen, no-click searches are likely to grow increasingly prominent.
However, this isn't necessarily a terrible thing for your SEO strategy. To start, it's important to point out that no-click searches, thus far, don't seem to have negatively impacted the rate of paid ad clicks. During the same time period that the frequency of mobile no-click searches increased by almost 20%, the number of paid ad clicks increased by over 1.2%. While Google is dedicated to improving the experience of their users, they're also dedicated to increasing their profits, and Google typically doesn't make money unless someone actually clicks on an ad.
This isn't to say that no-click searches aren't affecting SEO, website rankings, click-through-rate and other elements of online marketing - it's just to say that the rise of no-click searches isn't all doom and gloom for those planning how to improve SEO for their website. This is especially true for those who recognize the trend of no-click searches and take advantage of them.
Adapting to the rise of no-click searches begins with identifying user intent. When a user searches on Google, that search can fall into several different categories based on the intent of the search. These categories include:
- Informational Searches: Informational searches are searches where a customer is looking for information but isn't necessarily ready to purchase. For example, a search query such as "how much do water filters cost" would fall under the category of informational searches. Informational searches such as this are the type of search queries most likely to result in a no-click search.
- Transactional Searches: When a user makes a transactional search, they're looking to purchase a product or service. For example, a search query such as "buy a water filter" is a transactional search. Transactional searches are the type of search query that is least likely to result in a no-click search.
- Navigational Searches: Navigational searches occur when a user knows where they want to go and simply needs a little help getting there. For example, a search query such as "XYZ Water Filter Company" would be a navigational search. With proper SEO, you can ensure that most every user who looks for your website directly using a navigational search ends up clicking your link.
As you can see, the only category of searches that no-click searches have a direct and meaningful impact on is informational searches. In light of this, one of the most effective things that you can do to avoid the pitfalls of no-click searches is to put more focus on targeting transactional searches. Since the language used in each search category is defined, it's simple enough to put together keyword lists and advertising campaigns that target transactional searches as opposed to informational searches.
However, this doesn't mean that you should abandon informational searches altogether. Even with the rise of no-click searches, there is still value in providing useful information to visitors. Establishing yourself as a trusted and reliable authority on a topic inspires customer trust and positions you as a leader in your industry. When you consider the fact that a large number of users will still end up clicking a link and performing deeper research when making an informational search, you'll see there's still value in targeting informational search queries in your campaigns.
With that said, putting more focus on transactional searches is a great way to ensure that you are attracting customers to your website at a time when fewer and fewer search engine users are clicking a link at the end of their search.
What This Means for Your SEO Strategy
No-click searches don't spell the death of your SEO strategy. No-click searches are simply another trend in the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing that we must adapt to.
By developing an understanding of user intent and creating campaigns that are targeted toward transactional searches, while also continuing to take advantage of informational searches, you can develop an SEO strategy to survive and thrive in the world of no-click searches.