How often do viewers make it to a search engine result page (SERP), but decide not to click on a link?
If you asked this question to those in the search engine optimization (SEO) world, Internet marketing managers at car dealerships across the country, and everyone in between, you might get a hundred different answers. Even Google's own Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai wasn't able to answer this question when pressed by members of Congress back in December of 2018.
However, according to a study conducted by Rand Fishkin of SparkToro, along with data from Jumpshot, it looks like we finally have a concrete answer to this important question.
As Fishkin notes in his breakdown, 49 percent of all Google searches end up as "zero-click searches." This means that while the user did end up on a SERP, they didn't click any of the results listed before them and instead navigated away from the page.
Why would a user make it all the way to a SERP and then decide not to follow through with any of the results? If you've been following along with the updates and actions taken by the men and women over in Mountain View and Google's constant pursuit of the "one true answer" paradigm, then this trend should really come as no surprise.
From SERPs completely devoid of traditional results and featured snippets that present vital info directly on the page to working toward a "voice-first" search index that keeps users connected to smart speaker devices and the Google Assistant app and tools built into the SERP page itself (think hotel and flight booking), this tech titan continues to do everything in its power to keep users on its domain and away from other sources.
Perhaps even more concerning than this rise in zero-click responses (up by 12 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2016) is the fact that of the 51 percent of searches that ended with a click, 12 percent ended up on Google-owned properties anyways.
In other words, even when users are clicking through to pages listed in results, there is still a good chance that they end up staying in the Google sphere of influence.
So is SEO dead and should your car dealership jump headfirst into the depths of digital nihilism? Probably not. While the search giant is clearly doing everything it can to leverage its monopolistic powers and intrude upon the travel marketplace and other similar industries, as well as general information inquiries, search dominance for the world of automotive is still very much in the hands of dealerships, provided you have armed yourself with an industry-leading website provider.
Of course, if Google ever decides to get into the business of selling cars via SERPs, the answer to this question could change in a hurry.
Want to see all of the data complied by Fishkin and the SparkToro team? Then be sure to dig into the complete analysis offered up on the other side of the link provided down below.