It is becoming more evident Google has been playing the ultimate long game. Since their launch in 1998, Google has earned the dominant share of both U.S. search volume (94%) and U.S. digital advertising revenue (36.2%).
Throughout two decades, Google search has evolved significantly. While user experience (UX) is clearly prioritized, the desired result of keeping searchers within Google walls is becoming more evident.
Most Google Searches Now Result In No Click
As of June, 50.33% of Google searches resulted in no click. The share of no-click searches has been growing (up from 43.9% in Q1 2016 and 49.0% in Q1 2019), but June represented the first time no-click searches were the majority.
Most of the growth in no-click searches was from mobile devices. Google has emphasized ease of getting answers into the hands of mobile searchers, and the larger growth in no-click searches for mobile users is the clear outcome of those efforts.
What Are No-Click Searches?
No-click searches are searches that do not result in a click away from the search engine results page (SERP). Google has been successful in driving up the volume of no-click searches by providing more of the answers searches seek directly within the SERP.
In The Beginning, Google’s Simplicity Won Our Hearts
In 2004, Google took over as the most used search engine. Yahoo! was the previous leader, but the simplicity of Google’s search bar and straight-forward results satisfied our early 21st century search desires.
Today, Google’s Simple Complexity Drives Search Loyalty
Currently, the Google SERP looks more like a portal and less like the clean search engine it once was. From featured snippets and direct answers to AMP-enabled content and video carousels, Google is providing more and more information on page one.
Here are some recent changes keeping traffic on the Google search page or within Google walls:
Google Maps Is Providing More Trip-Related Information Within The App
Announced earlier this week, Google Maps will be showing users travel reservations (gathered from online bookings and email) directly within the app. For some searches, Maps may also feature top restaurant menu items and allow for restaurant ordering. Plus, lists of restaurants and attractions can now be exported from Google Maps.
Podcast Listeners Can Now Listen Directly From Google Search Results
Podcasts now appear in Google search results, with results populated based on AI-interpreted podcast transcriptions. Many of the podcasts that appear within Google search results are also playable directly from the search page.
Google Hotel Search Lets User Compare Hotels Within Search Results
Launched earlier this year, Google Hotel Search lets travelers search for hotel options based on location, dates, number of guests, amenities and price range. Searchers can view hotel highlights, including photos and reviews, and then click “book a room” to take action (at hotel sites and online travel agent sites).
“Request A Quote” Featured Added To Google My Business Listings
Recently, a “request a quote” feature has become available for Google My Business companies that have opted into the Google messaging feature. When this feature is live, searchers can request information from brands without leaving the search results page.
Two-Year College Information Added To Google College Search Results
Last year, Google launched widgets comprised of U.S. Department of Education college data for four-year colleges. Earlier this month, two-year college data was added to the Google widgets to accommodate the increased demand for “community colleges near me” information.
First-Party Data Lets Marketers Control Their Engagement Opportunities
Time and time again, Google has declared their dedication to enriching the search experience, especially for mobile device users and young searchers, who appreciate the UX enhancements and increasingly find what they need without clicking. And while 45.25% of searches still result in organic clicks and 4.42% end up clicking on paid ads, Google has made it evident their long-game plans include more zero-click engagement and an increase in monetization within Google properties.
Whether currently relying on Google, Facebook or any other third-party platform, marketing performance is subject to the whims of algorithm updates, targeting policy changes and UX evolutions. While no one expects brands to walk away from Google and Facebook in mass, it’s becoming clear that marketers need to proactively prepare to control their future engagements through first-party data ownership and one-to-one engagement strategies. Procter & Gamble, for example, recently announced that their massive first-party database led to strong quarterly results due to their ability to decrease their reliance on broad advertising platforms in lieu of propensity marketing campaigns. Likewise, current political candidates are proactively building subscriber databases to reach and engage followers during times they’re most likely to donate.
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