The clickless search— a not-so-silent threat to your website’s click-through rate. This SERP feature implemented by Google in 2019 has had businesses and website owners crying bloody horror, and for good reason. Now, users don’t even have to click on a specific link to get the information they searched for, which may be great for them (and Google), but it dramatically decreases clicks and eventually, conversions for websites and online businesses.
But does this entail the end of the world? Have all your SEO efforts gone to waste? Will anyone stumble upon, or even read the blog article you either spent hours writing or spent your hard-earned money on?
This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Yes, while the clickless results threaten your website’s CTR (click-through rate), you could implement a few clever strategies to avoid it. But before we get into all that, let’s clarify clickless search and snippets feature a little bit.
Essentially, a clickless search is when the results of a certain search query are displayed at the top of the search results, answering the query and seemingly leaving no need for the user to click on the link. We’re generally used to seeing linked headlines and meta descriptions that direct us to certain websites with a click. However, this 2019 snippet feature reduced the need for searchers to click on links when the answer is right there, at the top of the Google SERPs (search engine result pages).
For instance. if you Google “how long to boil an egg,” you get this featured snippet from BBC Good Food:
Would you click the link? Or did you get all the information you needed at first glance? On a side note – if it’s your first time boiling an egg – you should definitely click the link. You count the minutes once the water starts boiling, not from the moment you lower the eggs inside the pot. I learned this the hard (or should I say runny) way.
Truth be told, this is quite convenient for search engine users, and it also is quite profitable for Google, but it’s somewhat of a disaster for website owners that rely on those organic clicks.
But don’t freak out just yet! It’s not all doom and gloom. There are ways in which you could make your page survive the clickless search, and we’re here to tell you how. Follow our four-step guide for optimizing web pages, so your readers will click beyond the snippet.
If you really want to conquer any SERP, the first thing you need to do is make sure your headlines are perfect. Obviously, now we have to deal with clickless results that may give away the answers to a user’s query, but the first threat here isn’t just that they’d see the answer and fail to click. It’s that your content may not make it to the top of the search results at all.
Unfortunately, clickless search makes it all the more difficult for your page to be discovered. If someone’s doing a better job with their SEO, chances are that users will not even scroll down enough to see your website link. In fact, 75% of Google users never even venture onto the second page of the SERPs. So it makes a big difference when you manage to carry your content to the very top of the search results. And once it’s there, it’s your job to convince the reader to click.
Headlines are extremely important in both carrying your page to the top of search results and persuading users to read on. Let’s look into a few methods for optimizing your headlines to ensure the best CTR.
Ask yourself, what question does my page answer and how would a user ask it? The closer you get to the query typed into the search box, the higher the chances your site will be seen. It’s crucial to use the same keywords that users will, to increase the chances that your webpage will be a direct hit once they press enter.
Put yourself in their shoes, and hope it’s a comfortable fit.
Not only that – users are far more likely to click on a page if they believe that the content included will contain a direct answer to their question. And what better way to show that your page does answer their questions than to include it in your headline? This would assure the user that they don’t have to surf around the net looking for other websites.
But this is just the hook of the process – creating the right circumstances for your page to stand out. We’ve yet to explore the line and sinkers. Keep reading to find out how you can optimize your headlines to evoke curiosity in users and persuade them to visit your website.
Readers love how-to guides. Search engines love them too. And you should love them because of one simple fact— they are too long to fit into a snippet.
By alluding to a multiple-step guide in your headline, you’d be killing two birds with one stone. Just a simple “how to” in your headline can allow you to use one of the most buzz-worthy keywords on the internet and depending on the topic, you’ll definitely be able to get some direct hits from the search results. Another perk is that a snippet probably can’t include the whole guide, and for more in-depth information, users will have to click through to your page. It’s almost foolproof.
Similar to multiple-step guides, numbered lists are also a great way to get site visits. The reason why they work is pretty much the same as using “how-to” in your headlines, but they are even more powerful. Numbered lists are often popular reads. In fact, they’re much more popular than how-to guides and infographics, garnering over 200% more shares on social media. Which basically means your page will be passed around the internet, completely for free.
And again, it’s pretty much impossible to fit the entirety of the content in one snippet, so headlines alluding to numbered lists are a great way to entice readers to read on.
Let’s be real: most of us won’t really take action if there isn’t anything in it for us. This is why grabbing a user’s attention with headlines that convey the benefits of clicking through can be extremely effective. Sometimes, just answering a question or telling a user how something is done may not be enough. You might need to provide some extra motivation.
This method is especially useful if a snippet of your content does answer the user’s query. They’ve already got the information they need, so why should they click through? Well, that’s exactly what you need to tell them. You should aim to offer an initiative in your headline and let readers know how clicking on the page will provide some added value that they shouldn’t miss out on.
By implementing the strategies we’ve mentioned above, you’ll be able to give your page the push it needs to climb up Google search results, while also piquing users’ interest. But a good headline isn’t always enough and you might need to optimize a few more elements before you’re ready to beat the clickless search monster.
People often overlook the importance of meta descriptions, as headlines and keywords tend to stand out more to the average internet user. But the meta description is one of the most crucial elements of SEO. This is the 160-word text below the link that tells searchers what they’ll find on your webpage.
However, it has been observed that Google tends to rewrite meta descriptions if the algorithm notices that the provided description does not fit the page’s content. Let’s see how you can avoid the notorious Google rewrite by crafting the perfect meta description for your CTR goals.
This may not be news if you have prior SEO knowledge but it’s important to mention that meta descriptions have a 160-word limit. This means that anything beyond that will be cut off by Google. So, if you want optimal accuracy with your meta description, you need to sum up the contents of the page within that word limit.
Will they click? It’s our job to get them to.
Here’s the trick. If you want to ensure a better ranking in the search results, it’s crucial to add all the important keywords and relevant information at the beginning of your meta description. This allows for better readability, both for the Google algorithm and the searcher. It’s also important to place CTAs as close to the beginning of your meta description as you can.
You may be thinking: CTAs will already be scattered throughout the webpage, is it necessary to add them to a meta description? And our answer is, absolutely yes. While it’s important to let readers know what they will get out of visiting your page, why not give them an extra nudge by telling them to do so? Or even telling them what kinds of actions await them once they click on your page?
For example, if you’re promoting a deal, you could create a sense of urgency by adding actionable words, such as “buy it now!” or “limited-time offer.” The key here is to adjust the CTAs to fit the goal of your page. Remember, even a small nudge can help your conversions.
Now, we get to the final pillar of SEO: keywords. Keywords are key to the success of your website because its online visibility relies in good part on whether you use them correctly. Thankfully, there are some methods and tools you could use to make incorporating the right keywords into your SEO strategy much easier.
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Keywords with high click-through rates are always good to use, as they represent something that users search for. When a keyword works, it works because of its proven popularity among search engine users, so do use them – but don’t keyword stuff your articles.
Now, you could work your logic to guess them, but there’s also a much easier way to do it – SEO tools. SEO tools, such as Ahrefs, can help you analyze keywords and find the most relevant ones for your page. We will talk more about SEO tools in a bit, as they can be extremely useful in boosting CTR.
This is another great way to up your SEO game. Long-tail keywords are keywords that are longer and highly specific. For example, let’s say you sell tires. You’re looking to increase your online visibility to boost sales. You could target the keyword: “best tires,” but that would yield too many results for searchers, and many of those may not be related to your target market at all.
But, if you go for a more specific long-tail KW like “best tires in the San Francisco bay area,” assuming that’s where you’re based, you’d target the exact people you want buying your tires. Long-tail keywords are also naturally lower in volume than generic or short-tail keywords and they can bring success because of a different reason than keywords with high CTR.
Long-tail keywords work because they are so specific that when a search engine user looks up exactly that, there will be a better chance of your page being ranked higher in search results. It’s important to pick questions particular to your niche to get the right kind of exposure.
So how can you find suitable long-tail keywords? Surely, it must be harder than finding short-tail ones, right? Nope. You can pretty much rely on the exact same methods, such as using your logic or utilizing SEO/keyword tools like Ahrefs. But there’s a hack you may not have thought of before.
Use the suggestions that appear when you start typing a query. For instance, let’s imagine that we are on the search for the best tires for our car. When we write “best tires” into the search box, before we hit enter we will see a few highly-searched queries listed below.
This is actually a great way to find specifically what users search for, as it is a direct reflection of what they type into the search box. Now, we can’t promise that all suggestions will be low-volume, but if you’d like to find some relevant alternatives, we suggest looking at related searches and writing articles on those topics.
We’ve mentioned several ways you could use SEO tools, but these are not their only advantages. There are actually some SEO tools with built-in features that allow you to see the types of search queries that result in snippets, how your webpage would look as a snippet on a SERP, and how it would rank in the SERPs. Mangools is an SEO tool that offers a Google SERP simulator, which can give you a good idea of where your snippet will be in search results and how it will look. These tools can help you successfully optimize your keywords to boost your webpage’s visibility. Super useful, huh?
Now that you’ve done all you need to in terms of SEO, the next logical step would be to entice the reader enough so they click through. The best way to do this is to pull them in with an engaging, resourceful hook. You need to convince them you know your stuff and leave them wanting more after reading the snippet.
As you can imagine, good writing counts for everything.
Ditch the corporate identity and just be yourself. No, seriously. Refer to yourself in the first person and use personal pronouns. Make the readers feel as if they’re communicating with a person rather than a business or a machine. By getting personal with your readers, you’ll evoke a sense of trust and familiarity.
Speak directly to your readers by using “you.” By addressing them directly instead of mentioning them in the third person or lumped in within a demographic, you’ll be able to foster a more personal connection, which would make it easier to direct them to your website.
You could also implement compelling storytelling that cuts off just at the right part. This can be useful in the sense that it would tickle the reader’s curiosity. When we say storytelling, we don’t mean that you have to actually tell a story, but rather use good linguistic techniques.
For example, if you’re relaying information, do it in an engaging and interesting way, and then let it cut off just at the right moment. This would encourage the reader to click on your page to find out more. If you’re not confident in your writing, you could try the next method.
This snippet is a great example of answering the question but at the same time inspiring the searcher to click and read on due to engaging writing and a promise of more data-backed insights.
This is similar to the previous tip in the way that it evokes curiosity in the reader, but you don’t need to rely on any advanced storytelling techniques. For this method, it’s better to give minimal information and then include a CTA at the end directing search engine users to your webpage. Something like “Click to find out more” could be very effective.
The snippet below is a good example of this. Not only does it include a few items from an ongoing list, but it also indicates that you’ll learn more about each locale and their own appeltaart if you click.
So you get to decide where to go for a buttery, flaky, or raisin-y dessert.
Just make sure that the content visitors are being directed to is actually more in-depth, since using clickbait will actually hinder your online image.
Combining these methods can attract search engine users to your webpage. But to make them stay, they should be welcomed with great writing and content. If you’re not confident in your writing skills, you could always leave it up to professionals, like us!
Not only are our writers SEO-trained to use keywords correctly and fashion click-worthy snippets, but they are also devoted to the trade. We don’t just write for search engines – we write primarily with human readers in mind. If this sounds good, book a call with us today to learn how thoughtfully crafted content can help you boost organic traffic and become a thought leader in your industry.
Yes, the clickless search can sound scary, but with the right tools you can avoid its dangers by crafting perfect, clickable snippets that boost your CTR. Let’s recap how you can dodge the zero-click search bullet and seduce readers back to your website.
Written by Ipek Ozener
Born in Ankara. Based in Istanbul. Studied fashion design and currently enjoys working as a content writer. Loves traveling and attending music festivals.
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