30 second summary:
- While there are issues with zero-click search, there are useful insights for brands looking to get searchers into their purchase funnel that go beyond increasing SEO.
- Ron provides an overview of the various zero-click SERP features and what they do, including the Answer Box, People Also Ask Box, and the Knowledge Chart.
- The first use case for these features is to qualify whether a keyword is worth targeting.
- Second, brands can be specific about the types of information people are interested in and better understand the needs of potential customers.
- Brands can then create relevant and meaningful content for prospects that is tailored to the product or service they are selling.
- Finally, marketers need to keep in mind that Zero Click is a free resource for better results.
Zero-click search has been the term that scares people in the SEO world for the past few years and is likely to continue to cause problems with how SEOs try to measure success in the future.
While removing branded content from Google and then not sending visits to those brands isn’t necessarily a good thing, there are some powerful data points we can take advantage of by using no-click search results.
A good thing about zero-click search results is that they can help you better understand the intent of the user performing the search. Creating search strategies that are designed to target your content to the interests of the user is what sets powerful SEOs apart.
Gone are the days when content was written with the right keywords in the right places to get Google to associate your content with a search query and place it in a convenient position.
Now we have to spend a lot of time making sure our brand fits the person on the other side of the computer well and that our website gives them the information they need.
How do you get into your customers’ mindset and empathize with the problems they are trying to solve with a Google search?
First, a brief overview of the zero-click SERP function
The good news is that Google invested a lot of time and money into developing an algorithm whose sole purpose is to understand these issues.
Brands can use the search engine itself and access key data points about searchers to verify who they are targeting with the strategies and information with which they are targeting them. Even better, it’s all available for free!
If you didn’t know, a zero click SERP feature is an element in the SERP that allows the user to access the information they are looking for without actually clicking on a result.
Suppose you are working with a hiking shoe brand and, while doing keyword research, you come across terms related to the length of the Appalachian Trail. When asked “How long is the Appalachian Trail?” Search, the following is displayed:
- The answer box or direct answer to your question which is 2,190 miles long with a blurb explaining the average time it takes a hiker to walk the entire trail, as well as the approximate number of hikers that it actually gets through the Make the whole trail
- There is an “People Also Ask” section just below that with a list of additional questions related to your original search query
- A knowledge diagram on the right for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which provides more information on the Appalachian Trail (e.g. Wikipedia).
Now let’s take a look at how these features can help you better understand the people you are trying to target with your SEO strategy.
Qualify whether a keyword is worth targeting
If the best organic results are pages where the topic is definitely discussed unrelated to a product or solution (e.g. Wikipedia) and an answer box or knowledge diagram is displayed, this is likely an indicator that people are using the look for the term, look for an encyclopedia Answer your question, so not part of your shopping funnel.
If the organic results include product or solution results pages, the intent is likely a mix between people looking for an encyclopedic answer to their question and people who may buy at a later date. In these cases, it would probably make sense to target the issue.
For the example “How long is the Appalachian Way?” The former seems more likely to be the case, but there is still information on the page on building an SEO and content strategy.
The knowledge diagram shows you what people have been looking for, what time of the day / week a place is most popular, or whether you have questions or reviews about the topic you are looking for.
The answer field sometimes goes a little deeper in relation to the topic searched for. The Appalachian Trail example states that it can take 5-7 months to hike the trail.
For my shoe company, this could be targeting hikers who are on the trail as they will need multiple pairs of walking shoes during this time. I just need to figure out what these people are looking for in a shoe. This is where “people as questions” and “related searches” come into play.
Understand customer search intent
Based on previous searches, this algorithm has identified additional topics to look for when looking for information about the length of the Appalachian Trail. By and large, it can be assumed that people are looking, “How long is the Appalachian Trail?” I have some interest in hiking the trail.
You can use this additional information to determine exactly what types of information people are interested in about the length of the path. This allows you to create content that is consistent with the product or service that you want to target potential customers with.
That way, you can connect these finders to your hiking boot shopping funnel.
In our current example, we see that when people hike along the trail, they can walk an average of 20 to 25 miles per day. If I had to run that many miles, I would probably be interested in shoes that I can do it comfortably in.
Apply this information to your SEO and content strategies
SEO is more than just trying to optimize a page on your website so that the Google bot can crawl it. You want these pages to display the information that must be answered while searching for these queries. Studying the SERP enables us to do this.
For example, if you want to target “the best walking shoes” you can use the information learned above to answer questions people may not know they have.
A blurb might look something like this: “The Trail Runner XT allows you to comfortably run 20-25 miles a day while hiking the beautiful scenery of the Appalachian Trail.”
Again, remember that these are free insights that your brand can benefit from
When doing research, it is important not to forget all the data that Google gives us access to. Remember that the entire algorithm is built to best understand your users’ needs and to provide users with content that best suits those needs.
As marketers, we can use this data to get great insights into the types of problems we need to solve for our customers, which leads to great content – and even better results.
Ron Cierniakoski is Product Manager at Terakeet, a search engine technology company that leverages over 20 years of experience to serve global brands.