Zero-Click Searches: What They Are and How to Optimise SEO for Them

Has it ever happened to you that you entered a query, and Google gave you an answer quickly? Or perhaps you found your answer just by looking at the information that appears on the right side of Google. Like when you search for “How old is Margot Robbie” (who doesn’t Google about her), Google gives a specific answer, like below.

This is known as a zero-click search. In these searches, users get the information they need directly from the search engine results page (SERP) without visiting another website. Now, one may think that these searches must be very few, but that’s not the case. 

Zero-click searches are steadily rising. A report suggests that between January and December 2020, 64.82% of searches on Google, across desktop and mobile platforms, ended without further clicks. In contrast, only 33.59% were organic clicks, and just 1.59% were paid clicks.

This trend makes it clear: content marketers must tweak their SEO strategies to stay in the game. Optimising for zero-click searches can boost your brand’s visibility and might even lead to more clicks and visitors.

So, how can you get your content to shine in these zero-click searches? 

This article explains zero-click searches and their impact on SEO and outlines five top strategies to help your website’s content stand out on Google’s results pages. And stick around until the end – we’ve got a bonus SEO tip waiting for you!

What are Zero-Click Searches?

Zero-click searches refer to search engine result pages (SERPs) where the user’s query is answered directly on the SERP itself, without the user needing to click on any of the search results. This means the user gets the information they are searching for without visiting another external website.

Take a look at the image below. Upon asking the current time in Boston, Google provided the answer directly. In this case, the answer appears at the top in what’s known as a featured snippet or answer box. Since we got the answer right away, we didn’t have to click on any other link for our query. 

Zero-Click Searches

Zero-click searches are common on Google for basic facts, weather, time conversions and math formulas.

How Does it Impact SEO?

Zero-click searches are convenient for users because they provide the information they need quickly and easily without visiting or clicking on a specific website. Appearing in zero-click results can help brands amplify their visibility and reach new audiences, leading to more branded searches later on.

Despite the potential benefits, zero-click searches can also negatively affect SEO. Simply ranking near the top of the SERP may not result in immediate website traffic from these searches. It’s important to assess whether a keyword triggers SERP features, such as knowledge panels, as these features often provide comprehensive information directly on the search results page, reducing the likelihood of users clicking through to a website.

For instance, if you search for the keyword “SEO meaning,” you’ll see that there are almost seven SERP features, including featured snippets and “people also asked” sections, for this keyword. In such instances, it’s best not to target this keyword because even if you achieve a high ranking, it’s unlikely to drive significant traffic to your website. 

Importance of targeting right keywords to increase the chance of getting clicks,

Instead, focus on targeting keywords with a higher potential for clicks to maximise the return on your SEO investment. By prioritising keywords that are more likely to generate clicks, you can enhance your website’s visibility and attract valuable traffic.

Types of Zero-Click Searches

1. Featured snippets

A featured snippet is a selected search result that comes at the top of Google’s organic search results. It answers the user’s query right away without requiring them to click on a specific website. The information is extracted from a webpage, along with the page’s title and URL. Depending on the nature of the query, they can appear in various formats, including paragraphs, lists, tables, and even videos or images. Here’s an example of a featured snippet: 

An example of a featured snippet.

A featured snippet excerpt about a complex topic (like the above) can entice the readers to click.

2. Direct answer box

It’s a box at the top of Google’s search results that directly answers a simple question. Unlike featured snippets, which provide a link, the answer box does not. Also, in this zero-click search type, the question is straightforward, resulting in a simple answer. These boxes may include information like definitions, calculations, conversions, or quick facts. This is what a direct answer box looks like. 

An example of a direct answer box.

3. Knowledge Panel

When users search for well-known entities like famous personalities, businesses, landmarks, or organisations, Google shows a knowledge panel on the right-hand side of the search results page. It summarises the entity’s information, including images, facts, links to official websites or social media profiles, contact details, and more. Here’s what a knowledge panel looks like when searching for Netflix.

An example of knowledge panel.

SERPs featuring knowledge panels can lead to zero-click searches, as Google instantly provides ample, reliable information. Also, having a knowledge panel for your business enhances your visibility and authority on Google, potentially increasing traffic to your site.

4. Local Pack/Location

For search queries with local intent, like “restaurants in Delhi”, Google prominently displays a local pack or location-based results on the search results page. These results include a map with pinned locations of relevant businesses or places and brief details like business names, addresses, ratings, and links to their Google My Business profiles. 

An example of local pack.

These searches also do not result in clicks since users receive immediate and clear information about a business.

5. People Also Ask (PAA)

The PAA section lists additional questions related to the user’s query. When users click on a question, the box opens to reveal a brief answer sourced from relevant web pages. Queries that trigger PAA boxes are often zero-click searches because the answers are comprehensive. 

Each time you click one question, Google generates more related queries, ensuring you get your answer without leaving the search results page. Appearing in the PAA section can be an effective strategy for generating brand awareness. Here’s how the People Also Ask section appears when looking for “How to write SEO-optimised content.”

An example of people also ask section on Google.

5 SEO Strategies to Feature in Zero-Click Searches

Appearing in zero-click searches can be beneficial as it increases your visibility, establishes your authority, and drives brand awareness directly within the search results. It provides users with immediate answers, increasing the chances of engagement and trust in your content.

Here are some tips on how you can optimise SEO to get these results:

1. Keyword Research and Targeting

The foundation of effective SEO is thorough keyword research. To maximise your chances of appearing in SERP features, carefully select keywords that are worth the effort. Avoid keywords that appear in direct answer boxes or knowledge panels, as these provide instant answers and rarely lead to clicks. 

Instead, focus on keywords that trigger the local pack, People Also Ask sections or featured snippets. These SERP features include links, which can redirect traffic to your website and increase brand awareness when users click through.

2. Target the Featured Snippets

Appearing in a featured snippet increases your website’s visibility and shows that Google deems your content credible. To appear in a featured snippet, answer the target query directly and provide value that encourages Google to highlight your content at the top of search results. 

Besides, optimise your content based on existing featured snippets. If they consist of concise answers, bullet points, or numbered lists, structure your content accordingly. 

Let’s say you’re writing an article on the benefits of SEO. To increase the likelihood of appearing in SERPs, format it as a list. This approach aligns your content with what Google prefers to showcase in featured snippets.

This image shows that a search query for SEO benefits features a listicle at the top of SERP.

3. Use Long Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive, making it easier to rank in SERP features. According to Backlinko, long-tail keywords have a conversion rate of 36%, and almost 91% of search-related queries include long-tail keywords. 

These keywords often match the detailed queries users input, increasing the likelihood of your content appearing in featured snippets or the People Also Ask sections. This strategy boosts your visibility and attracts more traffic. 

A pro tip is to add a section of FAQs in your article, answering the questions that appear under the People Also Ask section.

4. Schema Markup

Schema markup, or structured data, is vital for SEO. It involves adding code to your website’s HTML to help search engines understand your content better. By incorporating schema markup, Google can better interpret specific details about your restaurant, such as its name, address, and phone number. For instance, this is how structured data for a recipe page should look: 

A look at the structured data or schema markup

Implementing schema markup can enhance search listings with rich snippets, knowledge panels, and other improved search results. Using this technique, website owners can boost visibility in SERPs and increase click-through rates by offering users more detailed and relevant information directly in search results. For instance, a recipe page with a valid schema markup can appear in a graphical search result, as shown here. 

5. Address Search Intent

Make sure that your content aligns with the search intent behind the queries you’re targeting. Whether users are looking for information, making a purchase, or seeking local services, your content should directly meet their needs. This alignment increases the likelihood of appearing in zero-click searches and engaging users effectively. 

For example, if the search intent is informational, like “how to fix a leaky faucet,” provide a detailed guide with steps and images to satisfy the user’s query. If the intent is transactional, like “buy hiking boots online,” ensure your page includes product listings, prices, and a clear call to action.

And here’s the golden SEO tip we talked about at the beginning:

Make your content easy for users and search engines to understand. This increases your likelihood of appearing in search results, especially in SERP features that often lead to zero-click searches. To achieve this, break your content into short sentences and paragraphs. Use subheadings, bullet points, and images. Write in an active voice. The easier it is for search engines to crawl your content, the more likely you’ll appear in SERP features.

Closing Thoughts

Optimising for zero-click searches is no longer just an option—it’s necessary. By using rich snippets, schema markup, and providing clear, concise answers to commonly searched questions, you can increase your chances of landing those coveted featured snippets. 

Remember, zero-click doesn’t mean zero opportunity. Even if users don’t click through immediately, appearing in these prominent positions builds brand visibility and trust. Those impressions could lead to more clicks and conversions over time. Stay ahead of the curve by making zero-click SEO a core part of your content strategy. 

Master it, and you’ll serve up answers directly to searchers’ fingertips.


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