We Now Know How Many Google Searches End Up With Users Staying on Google. Too Many

We Now Know How Many Google Searches End Up With Users Staying on Google. Too Many

  • Nearly six out of 10 searches on Google’s search engine result in zero clicks.

  • Despite criticism and the perceived threat from ChatGPT, a recent study shows that the search engine remains powerful and popular.

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In recent years, there’s been increasing controversy surrounding Google’s search practices. The company’s actions have led to users remaining on the search engine more and clicking on search results less frequently.

This trend has continued to evolve, and a recent study by software company SparkToro has indicated that Google remains influential in the world of search–possibly even more than ever–and that its methods are increasingly concerning.

With the help of Datos, a company owned by Semrush, SparkToro experts have created an insightful picture of current Google Search trends. Let’s delve into these findings.

60% of the Searches Result in Zero Clicks

The study’s first conclusion is that Google has made it unnecessary to click on search results because the results page already displays the information the user needs.

Google Search Engine Six out of 10 searches end with zero clicks in both the U.S. and Europe. Bad news for content providers. | Image: SparkToro

Specifically, elements like snippets, which summarize original content and appear at the top of a search results page, have proven to be very effective for both Google and users. In fact, they help users save clicks when looking for answers to their questions.

This is clearly not good news for the original content creators who provided the answers in the first place. Web publications rely on advertising. As such, if you don’t visit the original web page, they (usually) don’t make any money. Google’s still a major source of traffic for most websites, but it’s sending less and less traffic to those sites.

SparkToro’s study points out that nearly six out of 10 searches result in zero clicks. This means that either the user finds the answer in the search engine and doesn’t click on the result (37% of cases), or the user is unsatisfied with the results and performs another search (22%). Interestingly, the study also indicates minor differences in user behavior between the U.S. and Europe.

The data also reveals something equally striking: Google is using its search engine to promote its own services. In other words, if the search engine can direct users to one of Google’s platforms (Maps, Google Flights, the Play Store), it will.

In fact, of those 4/10 clicks, one in four leads to a Google service. Specifically, this accounts for 28.5% in the U.S. and 24% in Europe. It's a hugely smart move from Google because it undoubtedly strengthens both its platforms and the company’s ecosystem.

It's not surprising. The person that cuts and gives out the cake always saves the best slice for themselves.

AI Is Not a Threat to Google’s Search Engine (for Now)

The study’s other main finding is just as blunt.

Some people have gone so far as to say that Google’s search engine “is dying,” while others claim they no longer use Google because it’s not working properly and directly stick “Reddit” at the end of their queries instead.

Google Search Engine There are fewer and fewer clicks to the open web, or content provides that aren't part of Google, like Xataka On. Ugh. | Image: SparkToro

However, SparkToro’s study shows that “Google’s in no risk of losing market share, total searches, or searches per searcher. On all of these metrics they are, in fact, stronger than ever.”

There’s also the looming threat of ChatGPT and other chatbots, which seem to present an increasingly real alternative. The question, of course, is whether these claims hold any truth and how AI affects the search engine.

Google Search Engine AI Overviews are AI-generated results that appear on top of traditional sponsored and organic results. They’re sort of like snippets on steroids and seem to point to a future where elements like these will be increasingly more common.

The study’s findings were based on an analysis of the impact on search performance of Google’s new AI Overviews. This new option showcases AI-generated results on the search engine results page, but it’s advisable not to rely too heavily on them at this time.

Google Search Engine The introduction of AI Overviews seems to have had an impact on the mobile search engine in the U.S. (month of May, light blue bar). Is this worrying? It’s too early to tell. | Image: SparkToro

According to SparkToro data, the introduction of AI Overviews in May had a notable impact on mobile search traffic in the U.S. Mobile searches account for two-thirds of total searches, making them a significant area of concern for Google.

However, experts at SparkToro find the contrast in European data for the same period interesting but insignificant— despite the worry this potentially creates within Google.

SparkToro’s conclusion is as follows: “Both the fear of AI Overviews and the ‘death of Google search quality’ are all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Or, at least, not very much.”

Therefore, the data seems to reveal that at Google, neither the AI revolution nor the criticism is making a difference to its search engine, which, in fact, seems to be emerging stronger from all these problems. In other words, it’s just another day at the office for Google.

Image | Wolvezar using Midjourney

Related | Say Goodbye to Google’s Search Infinite Scroll. Google Assures Users That Removing It Is a Major Improvement

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