Don’t leave Google, you don’t need to: two out of every three searches end without us clicking on any results
My mother says Google is wonderful. You ask him anything and pam, there is the result. Everything is known to a search engine that in recent years has been refining to even try to anticipate our wishes and that answers well even questions that are poorly formulated or with disjointed information. It is almost magical.
It certainly is, but that amazing performance has an increasingly dark and worrying side: we do not leave Google, which manages to capture the most relevant information to show it when it needs it. That information, of course, is not created by them: collected from millions of websites that are never visited because hey, Google already shows everything we need from them.
The “zero-click searches” increase to the joy of Google (especially on mobiles)
A study by Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SparkToro, based on data published by SimilarWeb make things clear. It is in fact the evolution of a very similar study carried out in August 2019.
In that 2019 study it was revealed that 50.33% of all Google searches ended without additional clicks. One in two users who searched for something in Google did not click on any result, but the thing has grown since then.
New data compiled by SimilarWeb reveals that now ‘zero-click’ searches are 64.82% of the total. Two out of three users get what they were looking for on the Google results page without going anywhere else.
To get that SimilarWeb data analyzed 5.1 trillion searches performed on Google in 2020 on 100 million devices mobile phones and desktop or laptop computers. The fact that the ‘zero-click’ rate is much higher on mobile phones (77.22%) than on desktop (50.75%) is noteworthy.
We are, therefore, before a huge sample that makes it clear that the conclusions are apparently reliable and the collateral effects, overwhelming.
That people do not leave Google shows the great work that its search engine does to catch us: we don’t need more than that search to get the answer we were looking forBut when that happens there are two important effects.
The first, that Google maximizes its advertising business, which is the one that sustains a large part of its income and that benefits from the fact that advertising or promoted links normally appear among the results. In The Wall Street Journal indeed they pointed out a few days ago how Google, Facebook and Amazon keep growing in their advertising market share. In the attached image it is clear how Google in particular already dominates more than 50% of this juicy (really juicy) market.
The second, that those who really answer our question never receive a visit. The vast majority of websites try to be profitable through advertising in their articles, but if the user does not click after the search that visit is lost, as well as the potential income that would be derived from it.
This situation seems to be getting worse, and that again raises the problem that we find in the face of companies that so clearly dominate a segment: the control and influence they exert is enormous.
Google is actually preparing its theoretical exit from advertising model: from traditional cookies will go to the FLoC model (Federated Learning of Cohorts), an acronym with which we will probably become familiar and that according some analysts “will give Google exclusive access to lots of data that the company already has a notable monopoly.”
We are therefore facing a worrying evolution of the search market. It is true that Google does indeed work prodigiously for many users, but that has ramifications that raise more and more doubts on the power wielded by this megacorporation.