Skip to Content

What You Need to Know About the Zero-Click Search

  • CATEGORY: SEO

As we discussed in our Q2 ramp up, the rise of “zero-click” search should play a significant role in the shaping (or reshaping) of your 2019 SEO strategy. Zero-click searches account for a majority of mobile searches and are a force to be reckoned with.

What is “Zero-Click Search”

Even if you’ve never heard the term before, you’re probably familiar with the concept. Think about the last time you Googled your local weather forecast. Your answer probably popped up immediately, right at the top of your browser. That’s a zero-click search.

With a zero-click search, users type in their search query, get the answer directly on the search engine result page (SERP), and then bounce without clicking a link. This phenomenon is driven by two primary factors: human behavior and “position zero” content.

When people search online, the last thing they want is to sift through dozens of pages to find a result. People want a quick and easy answer to their searches so that they can close the browser and move on with their day. It’s this moving on that makes a search “zero-click.” The weather query above, for instance, would just be a regular search if you chose to click through to the Weather Channel.

The quick and easy answers necessary to create a zero-click search typically come in the form of “position zero” content. This content sits above organic search results and answers questions through featured snippets, image carousels, and other enhanced results. Position zero content can answer simple queries, like a tip calculation and “when is Mother’s Day,” or more difficult ones, like “why do my tires go flat” or “apple pie recipe.”

While zero-click searches are incredibly useful for Google users–removing a layer of friction and providing answers almost instantly–they can prove harmful for businesses relying on clicks and clicks alone.

Optimization in a Zero-Click World

As Viola Eva at Search Engine Journal writes, “Remember that the main goal of SEO hasn’t changed: take up as much prime digital real estate on Page 1 as possible and win the top positions.” It’s just that those top positions might not be organic anymore. In order to remain relevant in the new digital landscape, it’s important to create parsable content optimized for position zero.

Where to Start: Optimize for Featured Snippets

There are two primary types of position zero content: direct answers and featured snippets.

Direct answers come directly from Google or one of their trusted sources. Weather information, dictionary definitions, and calculations are common examples of direct answers.

Featured snippets, on the other hand, are a golden opportunity. They pull content from third-party websites, link to the source, and often answer more complex queries which could prompt clicking through to additional content.

The first step towards ranking for featured snippets is locating the right opportunities. Search Engine Journal recommends starting with the following steps:

  1. Pull a ranking report for relevant keywords.
  2. Filter by those keywords that are currently ranking between positions 1 and 10.
  3. Filter by those keywords that are already displaying featured snippets.
  4. Boom! What’s left are your high potentials for winning the featured snippet.

Once you’ve identified high potential keywords, look into the click per search (CPS) metric. Keywords with higher CPS are more likely to end up on your site and provide a better ROI. With these valuable keywords in hand, it’s time to rework your content.

The content should clearly and concisely answer the query you want to win. You should be creating a headline with the query’s target keywords and an answer roughly 54-58 words long. Specific types of snippets require further optimization.

Optimizing for Definition & Explanations

To win definition and explanation snippets, think like a journalist. Use the “inverted pyramid” structure, leading with the most important information and filling in details and storytelling elements later on. “X is a…” is often a great way to start these pages.

If you have trouble writing engaging content in this format, check out other high ranking pages with snippets and learn from them.

Optimizing for Lists

Take a look at the keyword’s current featured snippet. Is it already in list format (numbers or bullets)? If so, you’ll want to mirror this structure on your own page. Remember: existing position zero content is often the best way to see how Google responds to particular queries.

Optimizing for Images

Often times, Google pulls content and images from separate sources. In order to have your image appear in a featured snippet alongside your content, make sure it is clearly tied to said content on your website by appearing directly below your paragraph, list, or table.

Make sure to also include an image alt tag that aligns with the headline for your featured snippet content. So for a list entitled “Best Hotels in Bermuda,” considering adding alt text along the lines of “View from a luxury ocean-view hotel room in Bermuda.”

Zero-click searches have changed the SEO landscape by forcing content creators and digital marketers to focus on creating bite-sized answers to user queries alongside more traditional long-form content. While featured snippets have created new organic areas for Page 1 content, they have also led to decreased traffic for many otherwise high-ranking pages.

To learn more about navigating the world of zero-click search, chat with one of our experts today.

Back to top