A new study has suggested that just about half of all searches on Google do not end with a click through to a website in the results page [UPDATE: A study in 2022 said it was closer to a quarter]. While this may startle some lawyers who have been told that it’s critically important to rank well in targeted search engine results pages (SERPs) by, for example, us, the reality is that the searches that lawyers are trying to attract to their websites are not going to be the kinds of searches that go click-less online.
It’s Important to Remember Google’s Business Model, Here
A search engine’s business model relies on producing relevant and important results for every query you put in the search bar. If they fail to provide those results enough times, they know that, eventually, you’ll move on to another search engine and see if that one is any better. They know that, if enough people leave for another search engine, their web traffic will fall. When a search engine’s web traffic falls, so too does the price that other companies will pay to advertise on it. Because that advertising money is the vast majority of a search engine’s income, getting users the information they want as quickly and intuitively as possible is a must for search engines.
One way Google has done this has been to deliver more and more information in their results pages, in the form of featured snippets, information graphs, local boxes, and informative sidebars. Their thought is that someone searching for “what time is it in New York right now” should be able to get the information they’re very clearly looking for, immediately.
49% of Searches Go Click-Less
It should come as no surprise, then, that more and more searches that are conducted on Google are being satisfied with a glance at the results page and nothing more. In early 2016, it was only 12%. Now, a study found its 49%.
Worse, the study found that those remaining 51% of Google searches aren’t all going to the organic listings of other websites. 3.58% of the clicks go to pay-per-clicks, or PPCs, which are the paid advertisements at the top of the SERP. Finally, 5.9% of the clicks go to websites or domains owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, like:
- Google Scholar
- Google Play
That leaves what seems a paltry 41.45% of Google searches culminating in a click and its attendant web traffic for websites in the organic listing.
Why Law Firms Shouldn’t Worry About These Numbers
Law firms, however, should not be too concerned by this trend because the search queries that they target are typically not going to be the types that can be answered in the results page. And those searches that are being resolved in the results page are not new to online marketers who help law firms on a regular basis – SERP features that lead to click-less searches like the local box or featured snippets can themselves be targeted.