Zero click searches show the usefulness of search

Rand Fishkin recently published a blogpost referencing data that showed that Zero Click – defined as searches on Google that did not result in a click to any website at all – are now more than 50% of all searches.

In my opinion, searches where the user does not ultimately click to another website are actually beneficial for users because:

  • The user was able to satisfy their query without needing to click into one or multiple websites to find a quick answer
  • It makes users more reliant on search as a source of information – a place where next time around they might click.

Additionally, I am not convinced that any and all searches to Google properties are really a bad thing since for one the Google properties are so much better than their alternatives. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you used Mapquest to find directions or please share with me the URL of your favorite Youtube competitor.

Even in the places where Google was a bit more sneaky about cutting into competitors like say the restaurant review space, Yelp has so much richer content than 2 or 3 reviews you might find on a Google Local review. I think everyone can agree that users should end on the site or microsite of the best product.

The denominator is growing

Regardless, the true elephant in the room that might be leading to more zero click searches is that search has become so much better. Google suggest allows people to refine their searches even before they hit enter, but now there are so many other ways on the actual search result that Google helps users refine their search.

Anytime someone clicks one of these options – it is by nature a zero click search. Take for example this search:

A click into the next search page would be a zero click on the first search.

Or on many results there is a related search box like the one below:

A search for SEO tools brings up two complete sets of logos that would encourage a user to learn more about a company.

The net result of all these search improvements is there are MORE searches happening as Google reported in its last earnings report:

Our Google properties revenues increased $4,073 million and $7,757 million from the three and six months ended June 30, 2018 to the three and six months ended June 30, 2019, respectively. The growth was primarily driven by increases in mobile search resulting from ongoing growth in user adoption and usage, as well as continued growth in advertiser activity. We also experienced growth in YouTube driven primarily by video advertising, as well as growth in desktop search due to improvements in ad formats and delivery. The growth was partially offset by the general strengthening of the U.S. dollar compared to certain foreign currencies.


Without seeing the data from the Jumpshot study I can’t have an opinion on whether zero click search has truly grown, but even if it has I don’t think it’s a black and white negative against Google.