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How are SMBs Affected by Zero Click Searches?

The advent of zero click searches on Google's platform has recently become a hot button issue for small and medium businesses (SMBs) who market their websites using search engine optimization (SEO). While online marketing was previously geared toward ensuring that your website has the perfect mix of keywords to reach the top of the search list, Google's algorithmic improvements have significantly reduced customers' need to click through, diminishing CTR for individual websites by as much as 49%.

Which Google Features are Affecting CTR for SMBs?

As with any technology company, Google is continuously updating their processes, in order to enhance user experiences and maximize profitability. This has resulted in a slew of user-friendly search options that do away with the customer's need to click through to individual websites.

Answer Boxes

Answer boxes are a quick and easy way for consumers to find the answers they are looking for without clicking through to the source page. Whether they are looking to answer a trivia question or find a product description, customers are able to find a summary response to their question using the handy drop down answer boxes. Although customers can click through to the source pages for additional information, the summary often includes sufficient information, and clicks to the originating site are unnecessary, further reducing website traffic for those sites.

Products and Services

When Google was first introduced as a search engine, customers could search for a product, and they were directed to sites with those search terms, which resulted in the birth of SEO. These days, a search will still pull up the most relevant results based on Google's more advanced search engine algorithm. What's new is the panel at the top of the search page that offers a price comparison of products and services that meet the search description. Consumers can simply follow a link to get a full listing, still on Google's site. There is no doubt that the product comparison panel is more user-friendly for buyers than clicking through to numerous sites for pricing and information. Unfortunately, this keeps the customer on Google and costs businesses traffic.

Google Wallet

The introduction of Google Wallet means that not only are customers able to find the products and services they require without visiting business sites, they can also purchase them directly. Allowing customers to purchase items directly through Google completely does away with the customer's need to visit the product site at all. There is no question that fewer hits means less money for the company doing the selling, and in the process they become simply a provider of goods and services to Google rather than the customer.

How Can SMBs Adjust Their Marketing Strategies?

Google's success with these changes mean that they are unlikely to change their approach any time soon. In fact, Google's pending BERT algorithm seem likely to make zero click searches even more common. So, how can SMBs salvage their marketing strategies and continue to use Google and other search engines to their benefit?

According to marketing experts it's all about details. Rather than focusing on overall search rankings, consider your target audience and focus on longtail searches geared toward that metric. Tailoring your site to your audience may reduce your visibility on the search engine, but you're likely to see more hits from your target groups. In addition, consider opting for paid ads on Google that will direct customers to your site. Paid ads show up at the top of any search, so you're less likely to get lost in the shuffle.

Overall, SMBs will benefit from narrowing their focus and targeting specific audiences. Zero click searches aren't going anywhere, and with more changes on the horizon, this is the time for marketers to analyze their metrics and adjust targeting mechanisms to account for the new online marketing landscape.

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