Google Disputes Zero Click Study, Shares More Data, But It's Not Enough

Mar 24, 2021 • 7:41 am | comments (7) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine
 

Last night, Google responded to the zero click study that said 65% of searches end up without a click. The Google blog post basically summed up what I wrote (thanks for the link) but added some data. The truth is, Google just gave us a few nuggets of informaton but it is really not enough.

Google's response is that "Google Search sends billions of clicks to websites every day, and we’ve sent more traffic to the open web every year since Google was first created. And beyond just traffic, we also connect people with businesses in a wide variety of ways through Search, such as enabling a phone call to a business."

Google then wrote in the strongest way it possibly can "to set the record straight, we wanted to provide important context about this misleading claim." That context included:

  • People reformulate their queries by typing in new queries after their initial query, using the keyword refinements and people also search for like features. Google said "this happens so frequently" but did not say how frequently.
  • People search for facts and Google has "weather forecasts, sports scores, currency conversions, the time in different locations and more." Google licenses this data from sources, so no need to have a link to a website to click on. How many people search for factual information as a percentage of searches? I have no idea and Google doesn't tell us.
  • Local search often leads to clicks on phone numbers, driving directions and other methods that do not actually click on the website but still drive business. Google did share data here, saying "local results in Search drive more than 4 billion connections for businesses every month. This includes more than 2 billion visits to websites as well as connections like phone calls, directions, ordering food and making reservations." Google added "each month, Google Search connects people with more than 120 million businesses that don’t have a website."
  • Apps, people navigate to apps for TV shows, like searches that lead to the Netflix app or Amazon app or Instagram app. I don't know if the SimilarWeb data counted these as clicks to websites, I doubt it, but Google is not sharing numbers on how many people searches lead to apps.

Here are some data points Google did share:

  • On average, local results in Search drive more than 4 billion connections for businesses every month.
  • This includes more than 2 billion visits to websites as well as connections like phone calls, directions, ordering food and making reservations.
  • Each month, Google Search connects people with more than 120 million businesses that don’t have a website.
  • Google sends billions of visits to websites every day, and the traffic Google sent to the open web has increased every year since Google Search was first created.
  • Google search results page, which used to show 10 blue links, now shows an average of 26 links to websites on a single search results page on mobile.

But like I said, this data is not enough. Yes, we can see a lot of our local search data in Google My Business. That is good but I think it is super important that Google give us featured snippet tracking within Google Search Console. It makes it look like Google is hiding something from publishers by not showing the data. Just give us this data, it is so easy for you to do so.

So while I don't agree fully with the Sparktoro study and I do think the data needs to be broken down there. I also feel Google needs to share more data with publishers and communicate how Google Search is benefiting the publisher, not just the searcher.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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