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It’s unavoidable–the phenomenon known as zero-click searches has come and conquered the SERPs, and they’re not going away anytime soon. Now that the rise of zero-click search is evident, how do multi-location businesses adjust their local SEO strategy to win in this emerging zero-click world?

We recently hosted an expert panel webinar, featuring special guests Kurt Krake, CEO & Founder at MetricsEdge, Mike Blumenthal, co-founder at LocalU and GatherUp, Krystal Taing, Director of Local Strategy at Rio SEO, and Lauren Abramson, Account Director at Rio SEO, in which we answered the most pressing questions local search marketers are asking related to zero-click search. 

Zero-click search expert panel

Some of the main topics discussed include:

  • The rise of zero-clicks
  • Google & updates to the Featured Snippet
  • The impact of zero-clicks on organic SEO
  • The impact of zero-clicks on local SEO
  • What zero-click searches mean for 2020 and beyond

Here are the questions (and answers) to the most common concerns local businesses have related to zero-click searches. If you were unable to attend the webinar, you can also watch the full webinar replay by clicking the button below.

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zero-click webinar video

What is a zero-click search?

As the name suggests, a zero-click search is one that satisfies the intent of the user without having to navigate to any actual search results links. Simply put, these “no-click” searches are taking traffic away from your website, leaving your only opportunity for conversion to take place within the Google platform. 

What’s more, zero-click searches show no sign of slowing down. In June of 2019, a little over half of all browser-based searches on Google.com resulted in zero-clicks. For enterprise brands, this means potentially less search traffic, surfacing the need to refine your search strategies to ensure users are finding everything they need without actually visiting your website. 

Rather than viewing zero-clicks as a threat, our panel discussed the opportunities they can present for local businesses. 

zero-click search examples

Why has there been an increase in zero-click searches?

As Blumenthal mentioned during our webinar, Google has been trying to keep users on their site for longer, without the need to click elsewhere. In looking at transactional capabilities and how to get people to immediately make a decision, searchers are able to satisfy their needs quickly without having to leave the Google platform. Searchers can now book a reservation with your restaurant, book an appointment at your spa, or purchase tickets at your movie theater all within your Knowledge Panel. This eliminates the need to go to your website. 

What do zero-clicks communicate about consumer behavior?

Our panel agrees Google pays close attention to user behavior and shifts its delivery of information based on these results. In a world where consumers crave simplicity and timeliness, zero-click searches thrive by satisfying a consumer’s innate need for instant gratification. Placing a focus on ranking for longer-tail terms, fully optimizing your GMB, and optimizing your on-page content has now become the driving forces for succeeding with zero-click searches. 

What do zero-clicks say about Google and its relationship with a business’ website?

Despite receiving less traffic to your website due to zero-click searches, our experts pointed out the importance of your website remaining the primary, trusted source for all data surrounding your business. Your most authoritative content resides on your website, further solidifying that your website remains an immensely critical component for educating potential consumers. 

As Krake mentioned during our webinar, “Your website is your chance to talk about your brand and your brand needs to be #1”. Conversions may not be taking place as often on your website due to zero-click searches, but they are still happening and it should not be neglected.

What industries have been impacted by zero-click search?

The industries that have been the most heavily impacted by zero-click searches are low knowledge industries as opposed to high knowledge industries. For example, if a customer is searching for a restaurant menu and can find this immediately within your Knowledge Panel, there is a high probability they won’t need to click further to your website. However, if you’re a lawyer, a consumer may need to visit your website to get more in-depth information on the services you provide. 

Additionally, our expert panel noted both the healthcare and higher education industry are experiencing more opportunity to rank in zero-click search. As Krake mentioned, his company, MetricsEdge has seen a pattern over the last several years in which students are no longer using the website of universities to do their research. Instead, the first time the university is actually seeing the lead is when they are actually applying to the school. 

What is the impact of the recent Google update to featured snippets?

Recently, Google shook the SEO industry and raised a number of questions when they announced the news around featured snippet deduplication. Now, when you achieve a featured snippet, your URL will only show up in the featured snippet itself and will no longer also show up among the top-ranking results on Page One of the SERPs. Our expert panel agrees there will be a shift that comes from this update.

As Abramson described, schema will become more important than ever before. This means both developers and SEOs will need to align to achieve featured snippets, strengthening the relationship between teams. The measurement of success will also differ. Krake mentioned that Google Analytics will no longer be the sole source of truth for measuring success. Businesses must then educate their teams on the value of traffic coming from zero-click searches. They may potentially see a decline in impressions and clicks, however, conversions ultimately won’t disappear and will instead come elsewhere.

Is Google your biggest competitor?

Blumenthal provided valuable insight into this cumbersome question on every local marketer’s mind. He stated, that while Google may or may not align with your business objectives, its strategy is ultimately driven by its customers. Rather than seeing Google as a competitor, local businesses should view a conversion as a conversion, regardless of if it was made by clicking through to your website or not. As Taing stated, Google has done a better job of surfacing what a customer needs, thus bringing about the need for zero-click searches.

Krake suggests local businesses should focus on the following:

  • Word of mouth marketing
  • Engaging with customers through reviews and questions
  • Driving the search rather than capturing the click
  • Optimizing the customer experience

What are some organic search tactics to achieve a featured snippet?

With extensive experience working with Fortune 100 and 500 customers, Abramson had plenty of advice for multi-location brands looking to achieve featured snippets. She recommends reviewing content structure for:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullet points
  • Headers structured appropriately
  • Easy to read copy
  • Quick loading time on the backend
  • Easy to digest information
  • Schema markup

Ultimately, if technical and content work symbiotically, your chances for winning a featured snippet are significantly enhanced. 

How does a brand create a consumer journey in the knowledge panel that speaks to a brand’s voice?

Blumenthal suggests focusing on reviews and answers to your customers’ questions to tell an honest, consistent story throughout all platforms wherever consumers are looking for your brand. Krake echoed this statement noting that businesses should focus on customer experience to drive searches, whether the click comes to your website or its a direct phone call from your GMB. 

Images also were an agreed-upon method by the expert panel to better achieve a competitive position. Google’s sophisticated AI scans your images to see if they match the query. If your images are high quality and tagged appropriately, the better they’ll help you rise to the top. 

Rio SEO’s Taing, also advises that brands should focus on providing the same experience online that a consumer would expect walking into your physical location. Whether that involves filling out your menu, adding a Google Post, or adding your products, you want to create a similar experience to when they walk through the front door of your store. 

How can brands update optimize their GMB Knowledge Panel for zero-click searches?

GMB Knowledge Panel is a reflection of everything someone can find on the internet about your business. In fact, as Blumenthal pointed out, Google is even using Q&A and reviews to answer queries now. If you aren’t utilizing all of the opportunities presented in the Knowledge Panel, you risk not satisfying the user’s intent. To gain a better understanding of how you can leverage all the opportunities available to you in GMB, Taing recommends looking at prominent brands to view how they’ve optimized their listings. 

Additionally, Abramson mentions it’s also crucial to be aware of upcoming changes that could impact a location’s knowledge panel, such as a new business location. Krake also adds education as to how Google associates locality with the actual panel is important as well. High-density locations where people are regularly buying and using services now positively benefit from Google’s local algorithm. 

These are just some of the top highlights and takeaways discussed in the webinar. To dive deeper into even more insights surrounding zero-click search and how brands can prepare and succeed in a zero-click world, check out the full webinar below. 

We hold monthly webinars related to local search marketing, so be sure to check back often to see what’s lined up next month!

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