July 26, 2021

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‘Google’s No-Click Searches — Good Or Evil?’

‘Google’s No-Click Searches — Good Or Evil?’

“That Google is the dominant force in web and mobile search won’t surprise you,” write a columnist at Forbes. “What might, though, is that roughly two thirds of the searches on Google never leave the search results page.”

That is, the searchers get what they are looking for without leaving Google. These are called “no-click” or “zero-click” searches. The percentages vary a bit depending on device, geography, and the precise definition of “no-click,” but it’s clear that Google is retaining a large share of searchers within its domain.

Search expert Rand Fishkin, who compiled much of this data, thinks that the percentage of no-click searches will continue to rise… Increasingly, Google tries to provide the information the searcher wants on the search results page. For example, if one clicks “weather” after typing “w,” Google provides a large amount of weather data for the user’s location at the top of the results: current conditions, plus hourly and daily forecasts. Most users probably find what they need without having to click through to weather.com, where the data is sourced…

A no-click result seems like a win for users, and it almost always is. The loser, if there is one, is the website where Google found the information. Users who might have lingered, consumed other content, subscribed, bought something, or created ad impressions now never get to the website… Google itself disputes that third party websites are being harmed as described by Fishkin. They note that many searches don’t result in a click because the searcher refines their query or uses a link like “related searches.” They also point out that users can interact with a business directly without having to click. For example, a customer who viewed the address and operating hours of a local business could visit that business despite the lack of a click.

Beyond effort-saving, an additional factor that ensures no-click searches are here to stay is the explosion in smart speaker use. If you ask your Google Assistant or Alexa a question, you don’t want multiple options to get the information. You want the answer. I predict that Google will continue to use and expand its no-click results.

Absent legislative or regulatory intervention, they have no reason to impair their user experience.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.