How to survive and thrive in a clickless world

Daniel Cartland

SEO Manager

Recent data has revealed that less than 50% of Google searches result in a click.

That means over half of Google’s search engine results lead to no clicks through to websites or properties that aren’t owned by Google.

This data was attained via Clickstream and first analysed by SparkToro.  

Why are fewer people clicking from the SERPs?

This Google organic search trend milestone has been caused by a number of factors:

  • An increase in search engine results page (SERP) features that pull information from external websites directly into Google’s search results. E.g. featured snippets and People Also Ask boxes.

  • Google related properties and features appearing for an increasing number of verticals (Google Flights, Google Maps, YouTube etc.)

  • Ongoing changes to the SERP design, directing more traffic towards paid advertisements

How does this impact my website?

Fewer searches resulting in clicks could mean fewer website visits. This could lead to a decrease in organic traffic, despite an increase in organic visibility or ranking position.

Measuring the performance of a site will be impacted, as traffic and conversions have traditionally relied on users moving from the SERPS to a site.

The extent to which this impacts traffic and conversion is highly dependent on vertical, however, as Google continues to expand its reach, there are lessons that can be learnt for SEO strategy moving forward.

What can we do about this?

With fewer clicks available than before, the organic landscape is more competitive than ever. But organic search still represents a significant opportunity. There are several things that can be done to make sure a website not only survives, but thrives in this new search environment:

Optimise for Google’s SERP features

While some search results may lead to no clicks, being present in the SERP can have other benefits, like brand visibility and keeping your website at the forefront of a searcher’s mind. Crucially, optimising a site for Google features also means that competitors are not taking advantage of the same opportunities.

When investigating which SERP features to target, it’s important to prioritise. A site may choose to focus only on keywords that have a high click through rate (CTR), or may go after increasing visibility rather than clicks; optimising for features even if it results in a reduced CTR from that SERP. Be aware of the landscape and make informed decisions.

Optimise content for Google-owned properties

Making sure a website is in a position to capitalise on traffic from Google-owned properties will help a brand stay visible, even if organic clicks are reduced. For example, a travel company may want to ensure they’re included in Google Flights. And websites with a physical location will want to be optimised for Google’s Local Pack.

 Optimise for search journeys

Searches rarely occur in silos; so even if one search results in no clicks, a future search may drive a visit. Ensuring that a website is set up to answer a user’s need at every stage of the search journey will give it the best chance of driving qualified leads.

It’s not enough to just offer a product as the organic search environment gets increasingly competitive and dominated by Google itself.

Continue to build content that places users at the centre of a website experience

Organic search is often a significant part of any marketing campaign; however, SEO is not a silver bullet. Building a product and an experience that customers love is crucial to keep people coming back.

It’s worth noting that Google is currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice over antitrust claims relating to its search results. While we would never recommend relying on external factors like this, it’s worth noting that discussions are ongoing.

Should we target other search engines if Google results are resulting in fewer clicks?

Many SEO campaigns focus attention primarily on optimising for Google.

Despite Google offering fewer clicks from its search results than ever before, it’s still the largest search engine by a significant margin. This means that small gains in Google are equivalent to large increases in smaller search engines.

Google is at the forefront of search engine technology, with other search engines often playing catch-up. Optimising for Google will future-proof a website.


Want help with your search engine optimisation? Get in touch: results@icrossing.co.uk 


This article is as seen in The Drum.

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