Zero-click searches are at the center of quite the debacle. These are defined as searches that do not end up with people clicking on anything in the search results.
The article’s headline? In 2020, Two Thirds of Google Searches Ended Without a Click.
That is a bombshell of a statement. Think about it for a second: two thirds of all Google searches ended in zero-click searches, if this data is to be believed.
What Is the Significance of the Data?
The significance of this data is that almost 65 percent of Google searches ended with zero clicks to the websites featured in their corresponding SERPs.
Of course, Google doesn’t want people to perceive such a statement to be true.
There are also concerns about this data, such as that it’s not considering every possible avenue and may be easy to misinterpret.
But before we get too far into the nitty-gritty details, let’s explain a few things regarding some information about data the sources that were used.
Jumpshot, a data provider that many SEO firms used to track and report on certain types of data in the SEO realm, closed up shop. They were owned by Avast, the anti-virus software company.
Sadly, what happened as a result of Jumpshot closing was that many SEO tools that relied on this data, such as Ahrefs and Semrush, became inaccurate at best and significantly wrong at worst.
With the closing of Jumpshot, those tools—and SEO pros like Fishkin— had to use another provider called SimilarWeb.
As such, Fishkin explained the fact that his data is not an apples to apples comparison, and thus may not be quite as reliable:
The specific highlights from Rand’s data include the following:
A Firestorm of Controversy Erupts on Twitter
Quite a number of discussions happened on Twitter after Fishkin published this data.
It got out of control pretty quickly, and Google soon stepped in with their response to the issue.
Their explanation for zero-click searches surrounded the following points (directly from Google’s post):
Fishkin had the following retort to Google Search Liaison’s post:
Both Rand Fishkin and Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan traded a jab or two regarding the conclusions of the data:
Barry Schwartz has said that he has an update coming via Search Engine Land’s newsletter that will set the record straight once and for all:
Barry’s Rant on the Zero-Click Searches Debacle
Please find here our latest update to this saga, with Barry Schwartz discussing his point of view on zero-click searches in his video.
The Story Continues
Clearly some of Rand’s data hit a nerve over at Google, even prompting a response from their very public Search Liaison.
We do feel that there is more to the story that the data doesn’t reveal, but as SEO professionals ourselves, our skepticism is directed more toward Google’s response than Rand’s. But we also have to take Rand’s analysis with a grain of salt due to the fact that it doesn’t include data from the now-defunct Jumpshot, and thus is not an apples to apples comparison.
We’re primarily skeptical about Google because we have observed them saying one thing, and then another, even when something else entirely also rings true about that very thing. Mixed messages from more than one person at Google occur on a regular basis, especially with SEO-related information.
As much as we love both Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan and their influence on the search community, there are still questions to be answered. We do think, however, that both sides still have fair points on this topic that merit further discussion, evaluation, and research.
As always, we will continue reporting on this story as it continues to develop.
Featured Image: 13_Phunkod / March 2021
All Screenshots: By Author / March 2021