Zero click search: the new consumer comfort zone

30 second summary:

  • Zero-click search gives advertisers the opportunity to extend their budgets during times when paid search is extremely competitive
  • Brands can benefit from zero-click searches for the organic element of their overall search strategy to gain visibility and increase conversions
  • Nitin Manhar Dhamelia, Global Digital & Search Marketing Manager of the Barilla Group, advises on zero-click search optimization and measurement

Historical context

When Google was founded in 1998 it was serving 10,000 searches a day and in 2012 it was 3,500,000,000 searches a day.

Its success in becoming a transitive verb was born when Google set itself the task of bringing order to the chaos of the world’s knowledge. It recognized that the key to achieving this level of top-of-mind awareness would be to create a window to the web that was inclusive, accessible, and easily understood by the general population. it knew inclusivity would accelerate adoption. Even today, the search giant is constantly working to improve the consumer search experience, and several major algorithm updates were rolled out in 2021 – passage ranking, page experience, page title, MUM, mobile-first indexing and more.

In the near future, Google will make it even easier for consumers to access information about brands. But why?


Since users visit Google at key decision-making moments along the buyer’s journey – essentially every search session can be viewed as a micro-funnel. In fact, the big reset after the pandemic is irreversible. Nearly 15 percent of Google searches that Google participated in were the first of their kind. And 81 percent of consumers discovered new brands online during the pandemic.

“There is no world where people go back to their 2019 behavior, and some of that is now in their comfort zone.” – Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy

Google’s recently released retail report identified four key consumer insights:

  1. Dynamic demand: People’s buying behavior will continue to change in response to unpredictable times
  2. Digital inspiration: People will use the internet to get inspiration
  3. Convenience: People will pay attention to convenience in shopping
  4. Supporting expenses: People will be more careful about how and where they spend their money when “values” have a big impact

While advertisers may not prefer zero-click search, it does present brands with opportunities to focus on as part of their branding strategy.

With great power comes great responsibility

With its constant focus on innovation, Google is constantly expected to dwarf itself (for the better) and pursue the goal of presenting information in increasingly easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly formats.

His solution? Convenience and convenience for their searchers to travel online with Zero click search. This means redesigning the search experience to align it with a clear consumer journey, which in some cases implies the following: The journey starts and ends in Google and without a single click in search results:

Squid Game Google Zero Click Search

How this affects search volume, take a look at the data from an industry study below:

Zero-click search data

What does this mean for brands?

In my own research, the allocation of traffic to the core channels of search engine marketing for a keyword that has a “need for purpose” is calculated as follows:

  • Paid: 6.5 percent
  • Bio (above the fold): 31.5 percent
  • Bio (under the fold): two percent
  • Zero-click searches: 60 percent

What is unusual is that the final number is not too far from an original 2020 study that was done with a sample size far larger than most brand marketers may have immediate access to.

However, when smaller, localized in-house studies produce very similar results, that leads the discussion to where we need to focus part of our overall search budget: creating data-driven content that adds value and awareness (TOMA) to consumers.

Tips for brands to optimize and measure zero-click search

The people-too-function (PAA) in Google (mainly FAQs derived from website content in the search results) appear about six times more often on a search results page than featured snippets. Therefore, PAA should not be underestimated as a branding tool. So the first tip is to create editorial content that resides on your website and optimize it for PAA – using long-tail search data.

And the second tip is to optimize your content for featured snippets on branded and affiliate websites – your keyword traffic or search traffic insights could help prioritize this activity internally.

Another interesting finding that stood out was – regardless of the industry, most “big” brands will trigger a PAA.

PAA box visibility statistics

Measurement of zero-click performance

Estimating the impact of zero-click search remains a frequently asked question and an ongoing mystery in itself, which has prevented brands from focusing on this all-important facet of search. Here are some valuable ways for search engine marketing to track the performance of zero-click search features:

1. Understand relativity

Understand the relationship between impression volume and average ranking for one or more target keywords in the Google search console to gain insight into where branded content can trigger a zero-click search result.

2. Track soft metrics

This is where the soft metric shines. By focusing on zero-click SERP capabilities for brand and competitive domains, it is possible to build an index to track results and development of a soft metric such as share of intent. This will help you to increase awareness / viewing of products or services via the zero-click search element of your search strategy.

When you put all of this information together and tailor it to your brand, your search marketing strategy will add a new dimension.

Nitin Manhar Dhamelia is Global Digital & Search Marketing Manager at Barilla Group. Nitin has a 15 year track record in global B2B / B2C team management, governance and commercial experience in the Americas, EMEA and APAC.

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