Navigating the Zero-Click Search Landscape: A B2B Guide for Marketers and Business Leaders 

by Rudi van der Westhuizen
06.28.2024

Have you been noticing incremental yet stubborn changes in your traffic and conversion stats and can’t quite get to the bottom of it? You aren’t alone and this could very well be the blog for you! 

When it comes to any digital marketing strategy, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for businesses aiming to maintain competitiveness and drive growth.  

One of the areas that is quickly reshaping the SEO landscape in a big way (and driving us all crazy!) is the concept of zero-click searches. By its own admission, Google wants to make the change, “from being an information engine” to being a “knowledge engine”, BUT user behaviour is also changing. The age-old argument is – is Google stealing traffic or is it just responding to our demands and expectations for immediate information? 

The truth is, we will never really know, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. 

For B2B marketers and business leaders, understanding and adapting to this shift is paramount for sustainable success. In this article, we delve into what zero-click search means, its implications for website traffic, and how digital marketing strategies must evolve to thrive in this new era of search. 

What is Zero-Click Search?

Zero-click search refers to the practice whereby users find the information they need directly on the search engine results page (SERP), without clicking through to any specific website.  

We are all guilty of this, right? 

This can happen through featured snippets, knowledge graphs, instant answers, and other SERP features that provide immediate answers to user queries. 

Google, in particular, has been refining its algorithms to provide more accurate and concise answers directly on the search results page, aiming to enhance user experience and reduce the need for users to navigate to external sites for information. They are serving up the answers and information we need, and requiring us to take very little action after our first search. 

A study by Semrush in October 2022 found that back then almost 26% of searches end without a user clicking through from the results pages.  

Great for users, they are being served up the answers they need, but what about businesses? That’s a potential 25% less traffic coming to your website, but this doesn’t have to mean less growth or less ROI.

What are zero-click users looking for? 

Being a marketer, and a human, I would hazard a guess and say zero-click searches are made by those needing very specific information and action-oriented information such as telephone numbers, opening hours, directions, etc, OR those at the start of the buyer journey. Perhaps looking for top of the funnel information, or want to browse items that they are thinking about purchasing.  

Being the brand to serve up this information adds to brand equity, and as a result, branded search or direct traffic could be increased.

Looking to increase website traffic and conversions?

Implications for Website Traffic 

As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished, and the consequences of this shift are being felt. For businesses heavily reliant on organic search traffic, the rise of zero-click searches poses a significant challenge. Traditionally, ranking highly on SERPs was the primary goal, as it drove traffic to websites where users could engage with content, products, or services.

FURTHER READING

 

However, with more search queries being resolved directly on the SERP, organic click-through rates (CTR) are declining. While this might mean users are finding the information they need faster, it also means less traffic directed to businesses’ websites, potentially impacting lead generation, conversions, and ultimately, revenue. 

Listen, let’s be honest – we are all at the behest of Google, we cannot fight this one, but we can adapt and react accordingly. 

Evolution of Content Marketing Strategies 

In response to the zero-click search trend, B2B marketers need to rethink their content marketing strategies. Simply focusing on ranking for high-traffic keywords may no longer suffice. Instead, the emphasis should be on creating content that not only ranks well but also provides value and engages users even within the SERP itself. In other words, the strategy is focused on SERP domination.  

Optimise for Featured Snippets: 

Featured snippets are prime real estate on SERPs, appearing above organic search results and providing concise answers to user queries. Optimising content for featured snippets increases the chances of your content being displayed prominently, even in zero-click searches.

 

FURTHER READING

 

How can you achieve this? 

1. Take a look at what the current featured snippet is.

2. Check the long tail keywords around this to really understand the intent of the search.

3. Create a more detailed, valuable answer. Write for your audience, always. 

    Focus on answering common questions related to your industry or niche concisely and clearly within your content. Lean into sales and customer services. Those in customer facing positions will have the insights that marketing isn’t always privy too – what do your audience really want to know? 

    Use structured data markup to provide search engines with context about your content, increasing the likelihood of being featured. 

    Invest in Video and Visual Content: 

    Why just have a blog competing for one spot in the SERPs when you can have a blog, featured snippet, Q&A, image pack and video? 

    Visual content, such as videos, infographics, and images, can captivate users’ attention even within the SERP. Creating informative and visually appealing content increases the chances of users engaging with your brand, even if they don’t click through to your website immediately. 

    Utilise platforms like YouTube, where your videos can appear in both YouTube search results and Google’s video carousel, enhancing visibility and attracting users. The beauty of this is that you don’t need to create multiple elements from scratch, you just need to think about the distribution.  

    One blog can be reworked into social posts, videos, images and infographics, newsletters, articles for outreach….the possibilities are endless. 

    Focus on Long-Tail Keywords and Niche Topics: 

    Long-tail keywords and niche topics present opportunities to target specific audience segments and address their unique needs and pain points. While these keywords may have lower search volumes, they often have higher intent and lower competition, increasing the likelihood of ranking well and attracting qualified traffic. Intent is everything – it’s important to keep this in mind. 

    FURTHER READING

    Craft content that addresses niche topics comprehensively, providing in-depth insights and solutions that resonate with your target audience. If in doubt, run it past the customer facing teams. 

    Check out tools such as AHRefs, Semrush, Answer the Public and Also Asked to gain a further insight into long-tail keywords and questions that are searched.

    4. Enhance Local SEO:

    Find ways to embed yourself in your local community, both on and offline. 

    For B2B businesses targeting local markets, optimising for local SEO is essential, especially considering the rise of voice search and mobile usage.  

    Ensure your business listings are accurate and consistent across online directories and platforms. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, which can enhance your credibility and visibility in local search results.

    FURTHER READING

    Maximise the value in your Google Business Profile. Think of this as your mini website, so make sure up to date contact and location information is posted, your ‘about us’ section is accurate and engaging, photos and video are included and posts about your services appear. 

    How to create a digital marketing strategy that combats zero click? 

    As zero-click searches become more prevalent, integrating strategies to address this trend is imperative for a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Here are some key elements to include:

    1. Comprehensive SEO Audit:

    Conduct a thorough audit of your website’s SEO performance, focusing on identifying opportunities to optimise for zero-click searches. Assess your current keyword strategy, content quality, and technical SEO aspects to ensure alignment with the evolving search landscape. How can you achieve featured snippets, knowledge panel, ‘People also asked’?

    2. Content Gap Analysis:

    Identify gaps in your content strategy, particularly in addressing common queries and providing valuable insights within the SERP. Look for opportunities to create content that fills these gaps and enhances your visibility and authority in your industry or niche.  

    It is imperative that you are auditing your competitors. At the end of the day, it’s their traffic and potential traffic that you want to steal…what are they ranking for that you aren’t?

    3. Know your audience 

    If you are making a concerted effort to understand your core audiences’ needs and barriers, you should also be consistently monitoring their behaviour and how it is changing. 

    Buyer persona profiles are not a ‘nice to have’, they should be a crucial piece of information that is updated each year to ensure that every activity you undertake is purposeful.  

    If your audiences aren’t using search engines websites like they used to, what platforms are they using, and are you present? For example, Tiktok is now considered a search engine.

    4. Check your Meta-data 

    Your meta data should be optimised for keywords, yes. But it should be well optimised for the human reading it, because compelling meta data is akin to click through rates. You have minimal time to grab the audiences’ attention, your meta title and description should be aligned with the reason the search took place, and have the personality that stands out. 

    5. Use structured data 

    Schema mark-up and other structured data is a clever way for marketers to make sure that their website and website content is positioned to compete for positions such as rich snippets. 

    The code applied makes it much easier for search engines like Google to read and understand the information and perhaps most importantly, what it’s intending to answer, meaning the information they serve up to users is contextually relevant.  

    There are 35 types of Schema that can be used on your website, including product, review, article, course and local business. 

    FURTHER READING


    6. Multi-Channel Approach:

    Diversify your digital marketing efforts across multiple channels, including social media, email marketing, and paid advertising. While organic search remains important, leveraging other channels can help mitigate the impact of declining organic CTR and ensure a more holistic approach to reaching your target audience.

    7. Performance Tracking and Analytics:

    Implement robust marketing tracking and analytics tools to monitor the performance of your digital marketing efforts continuously.  

    Track key marketing metrics such as organic traffic, direct traffic, SERP visibility, and engagement rates to gauge the effectiveness of your strategies and make data-driven optimisations over time, but take it one step further with a powerful platform that can monitor where your best conversions are coming from.  

    Want to implement these steps?

    The zero-click search phenomenon represents a fundamental shift in how users interact with search engines and consume information online. For B2B marketers and business leaders, adapting to this trend requires a proactive approach to content marketing and SEO strategies. 

    By following the steps outlined, businesses can maintain visibility and attract qualified traffic in the zero-click search era. Incorporating these strategies into a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is essential for remaining competitive, driving growth, and maximising the long-term ROI of marketing spend. 

    The Author

    Rudi van der Westhuizen

    Rudi also joined the MM family in 2021. His strengths lie in digital marketing with an emphasis on eCommerce, tech, SEO, search engine marketing and website development. With Brad, he runs his own agency in South Africa, while partnering with us to help support our own national and international clients. Rudi’s passion is new technology and getting excited around digital innovation and how it can help businesses to grow and thrive.
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