Stay Out Of Google's Instant Answer Rabbit Hole
As an internet user yourself you've probably noticed how your search habits have changed over time, adapting with the way Google returns information from your queries. Featured snippets, the Local Pack and zero-click answers are all developments that have influenced consumer activity in the last 18 months, and we now expect to find an answer to our question on the first page of results without even having to click through to a separate website.
This is really convenient for consumers. If we want the opening hours of a local store we'll find it on the My Business result on the right hand side of the results (or at the top on a mobile device).If we want simple facts we'll also find that at the top of the results, meaning that for many queries there is no need to click any further. What can businesses do to encourage click throughs to their website from what could be a zero-click search query?
The thing to keep in mind is the EAT ideology. This stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Being featured near the top, or as the top result (even on a zero-click search) shows Google and customers that you meet those criteria. If you have answered the question well and are the Featured Snippet for a particular search term it is likely that the customer will click through to read all the content you've published if they aren't looking for a single fact.
It is worth noting that B2B customers, especially engineers and technically minded folk (as well as people conducting in depth research) will deep-dive for information, meaning they'll go as far as page 10 of Google SERPs. This isn't a free pass to ditch your SEO strategy; these in-depth searches represent a tiny proportion of overall searches, but it shows that even very niche content can get attention from the right people. When creating a content strategy ensure that you meet the needs of the zero-clickers and the deep-divers if that's appropriate for your industry.
Video content is another great way of enticing searchers off Google and onto your channels, including your socials. YouTube is fast becoming the go-to search engine for people wanting answers in video format (which is engaging and easy to digest).While Google will host a YouTube video on their SERP, creating short and engaging clips that answer common queries and encourage people to click through to watch the next in the series is a great way of capitalising on the zero-click approach, turning those browsers into channel subscribers.
Use the insight you get from the “people also ask” and autocomplete suggestions to inform the content you should be creating. You may use metadata to address several search terms in one sentence, thereby getting hooked for each of those suggested searches. You might create extra content, or even break up existing content into smaller chunks, either creating separate pages or using anchor hashtags to show Google that one piece of content addresses several queries.
The instant answer bubble is the goal for some websites, and for certain types of query. We must remember that not all search terms are created equal and while a simple data check on a company's contact details isn't going to yield a website visitor, many searches are conducted looking for more in depth answers. It's the information seekers and researchers that we can turn from zero-clickers into website visitors, where we can then convert them into buyers.
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