In 2020, 50% of searches end with zero clicks to your website because Google has created so many features that give users all the information they need right in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
And for almost a year now, leader in the field of search engine optimization (SEO) Rand Fishkin has been imploring us all to see how Google has transitioned from an ally to a competitor and encouraging us to react to the negative effects of zero-click actions.
Google grows and updates constantly, which benefits us as users when we’re looking for quick answers. But think about this for your business: if users can get all the answers they need without ever leaving Google, that means they’re never landing on your site, never browsing what you have to offer, and never filling out a form or clicking to call you.
Some SERP features are more dangerous than others for your click through rate, and they affect every industry across the board, with the most notorious offenders being:
- Featured snippets
- Knowledge panels
- Answer boxes
Businesses used to be fixated on scoring a spot in these, but it’s time to rethink that strategy. If your website ends up in the featured snippet or answer box and gives a searcher everything they’re looking for without requiring that they visit your site, you’ve lost the ability to carry them through the funnel to a conversion. And while we like to keep track of rankings, the most important metrics are those that are directly tied to revenue. Instead of obsessing over what could be considered “vanity metrics” like rankings and percent visibility, let’s zoom in on CTR and conversions.
The End of Rankings as a Success Metric
Rankings and visibility alone aren’t enough—you want traffic, and highly relevant traffic at that.
Don’t get us wrong: we don’t advocate for ignoring rankings altogether. Keyword rankings provide great insight into your relevance against your competitors, not to mention that you won’t be able to score the conversions and traffic you’re interested in without being found on the first page. But, we’ve noticed a trend of becoming focused on keyword rankings as a success metric rather than a stepping-stone metric. Rankings should lead to traffic, which should lead to conversions. So if you’re focusing on keyword quality over quantity, and you’re interpreting keyword rankings as an intermediate step that leads you to true conversion metrics like form fills and phone calls, you’re on the right track.
Steal Your Traffic Back from Google
So we know zero-click actions are the enemy, and we know Google is doing everything they can to keep users on the SERPs and off your website, but what are some actionable steps your business can take to gain or maintain visibility while also gaining and maintaining clicks?
Increase Content Quality
Choose a smaller set of keywords to optimize for and focus your efforts. Don’t try to rank for every synonym of your business offerings. Go all in on one or two high level keywords and dominate for those. These keywords should be something that describes your business as a whole, like “digital marketing” or “digital marketing birmingham,” rather than drilling down into individual products or services.
And like we said above, despite their convenience, featured snippets and answer boxes are some of the biggest drivers of no-click actions. To leverage the good and outsmart the bad of these SERP features, you need to create rich content around questions that can’t be answered in a sentence or two. Because scoring the featured snippet or answer box is still a win—it’s the most prominent visual in the SERP landscape, and it means you’re outranking your competitors. But if that featured snippet or answer box encapsulates all the information a user could possibly need to know and doesn’t entice or incentivize them to visit your website for more, you’re missing out on valuable traffic and, ultimately, conversions and revenue.
Target Long Tail Keywords
The SERP market for short, compact keywords like “builder” or “doctor” is incredibly saturated. It’s not likely that your business will rank for this type of keywords, and even if you do, the click through rate is often less than 1%. That means that applying effort to ranking for these keywords is driving very little value for your business.
Instead of working to rank for a keyword like “builder,” you might target “general contractor birmingham,” or “residential builder birmingham.” That allows you to weed out anyone needing the definition of the word “builder,” researching the job market, or reading on the industry and speak directly to the people who are most likely to convert.
Track the SEO Metrics That Matter
Don’t get fixated on rankings. Dig into CTR, traffic, and conversions.
Look at metrics that determine your ability to land new customers, as well as maintain existing ones. SEO is working at its best when it’s driven by discovery searches, as opposed to keyword searches that include your business name.
Partner with a Company that Can Help
The zero click phenomenon is bigger than you think, and Google’s BERT algorithm is only going to make the problem worse. As you navigate the ever-changing world of search, connect with a digital firm that can keep you on top. Get in touch with us today.