Almost two-thirds (or 64.82%) of Google searches in 2020 ended without people clicking through to another website, market research firm SparkToro found using data from SimilarWeb. In other words, people mostly just looked at the search results page and then decided to move on.
While that may be surprising, it really shouldn’t be. It can be argued that Google isn’t a search engine anymore, but an all-knowing guru. Type in any question and chances are, you’ll receive an answer on the search results page itself with no further clicking required.
This obviously applies to currency and time conversions, weather queries, and mathematical calculations. But it also helps that Google is integrated with Wikipedia – search for “nyan cat” and you’ll see a preview of its Wikipedia entry.
From Jan-Dec, 2020:
– @SimilarWeb analyzed 5.1 trillion searches
– Desktop & mobile (separate charts in the post)
– 100M+ worldwide clickstream panel
The results: https://t.co/08iLoXzdMh
– 2/3rds of searches end without a click
– Over 75% on mobile, just under 50% on desktop pic.twitter.com/C1GAJVRmzt
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) March 22, 2021
This is generally a good thing and Google deserves much credit for anticipating what users need and want. But it also implies that the tech giant has created this closed ecosystem and hogs all the traffic for itself.
So Google pushed back pretty hard against SparkToro’s findings, saying that they were based on “flawed methodology”. The company said that people searching multiple times as they reformulated their queries would falsely inflate the search-to-click ratio.
Someone looking for sneakers, it said, might go through a few zero-click searches before ultimately clicking through to a retailer’s website. Furthermore, people directly connecting with businesses, or navigating directly to apps would skip the traditional click-through altogether.
Each year since Google Search began, we’ve increasingly sent more traffic to the open web. Billions of visits each day. Our post shares more about this & why some recent “zero click” discussions don’t capture the reality of how search works. https://t.co/e1nHFKxZwh
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 24, 2021
“We send billions of visits to websites every day, and the traffic we’ve sent to the open web has increased every year since Google Search was first created,” the company declared.
Are you wondering why Google even bothered to respond? Consider that the tech giant has recently been in the sights of US and European regulators over antitrust issues.