For years, content marketers considered the top of the first page of Google search results to be the Holy Grail. “If only our content would rank first on the Google SERPs,” we exclaim, “our marketing woes would be solved.”
It might be a play, but we definitely put the premium position on a pedestal.
But nowadays, getting the top position on Google SERP is not achieved content marketing goals the same.
With the advent of featured snippets, answer boxes, knowledge graphs, and other SERP elements, less than half of Google searches now result in a click. In June 2019, 50% of searches ended with no clicks, according to SparkToro research . In 2020, that number has grown 65% .
In 2020, 65% of searches ended with no clicks, according to @sparktoro #research via @AnnGynn @CMIContent @semrush. Click to post a Tweet About 15% of search results return no-click, according to recent Moz's analysis. And that percentage is likely to increase.
About 15% of search results return no-click, according to recent analysis by @Moz. And that percentage is likely to go up, @Ann Gynn said via @CMIContent @semrush. Click to Tweet What does the increase in popularity and use of no-click search results mean for your content marketing strategy? In a nutshell, that means your SEO strategy may require ramifications: a content optimization plan to rank as the answer to no-clicks on a search engine results page, and a plan to optimize your content. plan to get clicks from search results.
If your goal is to raise brand awareness or promote expertise on your company's topic, a no-click strategy makes sense. It is also useful when your audience is primarily mobile or voice assistant to search.
If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, you need a strategy for getting clicks from search. Searchers are more likely to click to learn more when looking for insights on a topic – more than the no-click feature will tell them.
Get started with basic SEO optimization
Remember that this advice is for content that already ranks well (or when new content is optimized for SEO). If the content is not in the top 10 results, focus on Basics of SEO and quality content instead of chasing no-clicks.
Note: For this article, I use the term no-click feature to collectively refer to featured snippets answer boxes, knowledge graphs, etc.
Set up a no-click search tracker
To create a branching strategy, I recommend setting up a tracker in a spreadsheet with the following columns:
- Search terms (your preference key word for brand awareness, topic expertise, and mobile/voice audiences)
- Show results on no click (yes/no)
- URL in no-click feature
- Text in the no-click feature (included SEO Title )
- Content Format (blogs, e-books, dedicated pages, general sites)
- Publisher (company name or media)
- Newly discovered keywords (can be found in people-also-ask box)
With your tracker set up, it's time to fill it out. First, add your existing preferred search terms. Then start your research with one of these options:
- Do it manually. Enter each of your preferred keywords in the search bar. Notice if it has no-click results. If yes, complete the tracker categories.
- Use technology tools. Enter keywords, domains or links in the box above Example: Serpstat . homepage and you can see which pages have featured snippets. You can do something similar on Semrush : Run a domain search, click “organic research” and click “featured snippets” in the bottom right.
Your trackers now reflect no-click opportunities for your content (and the assets you already own.)
But don't stop there. Expand your keyword list to further improve the chances of your content getting that coveted no-click spot. Here are two ways to do it:
- Look at the “people also ask” box. in your initial keyword searches. Click to see which returns the no-click feature. If yes, fill in all the details on the tracker. (If not, add them to your tracker – that way, you'll know which keywords or phrases you don't need to target.)
- Research actual questions. Reply Publicly especially useful for no-click research because it lists real people's questions (not just keywords). Put those questions in the search bar and add the results to your tracker.
With the complete (current) tracker, you can identify the most relevant no-click opportunities for your current or future content.
How to Create SEO Friendly Content (Ultimately 2021 Category)
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Optimize to be answer (no-click feature)
Once you know which of your target keywords return no-clicks, it's time to increase your content's chances of taking one of those slots.
Your click-through content can come in several formats:
- Numbered lists and bulleted items
- Short paragraphs (usually one or two sentences)
Ann Smarty wrote Note about content formats to include in each article as she plans her content themes with the aim of attracting no-click features. Her notes may include reminders to add:
- Lessons learned with clear steps (+ using HowTo schema )
- Bullets list related tools
- Graph ( flowchart ) explain the process
Numbered and bulleted lists are useful for queries that use the terms “best” or “how-to”. Complex content can be translated into easier to understand (encoded in HTML) tables. Paragraphs work well for simple descriptions or definitions.
Even if you can't give a definite answer to a no-click question, you can create useful content . Ann gives an example of someone looking for a number or numbers, such as “How much does it cost?” Offering a price range is more useful — and more appealing to Google — than giving up on any answer.
For visual formats, Chatmeter suggests placing images near the top of the page, using relevant image titles and filenames, and incorporating relevant details in the alt text feature. (Google sometimes pulls images for no click results not connected to text-based results.)
For videos, make sure they're on YouTube – most featured video or clip results come from a Google-owned platform. And 80% of those video results have the searched keyword in their title, according to HubSpot .
TIP: You don't need to create completely new content to achieve these results. Analyze your existing content to identify restructuring or revisions that can boost rankings without much work.
TIP: You don't need to click feature answers not necessarily at the top of your content. Relatively new Google Paragraph rating provides relevant results extracted from any p of the content.
Optimized for clicks
Now go back to your tracker and choose your targeted keywords that don't result in no clicks. It's a good starting point for discovering better opportunities for clickable content.
While the topic itself can give more detailed content, it's important to structure your content in a way that attracts a click and keeps searchers reading. That requires considering all the SEO factors of the page content:
- SEO Title
- Meta description
- Table of contents
- Content duration
Don't write an SEO title to capture a single point. Pack as much of the content the page contains as possible. In this SERP for the query “How did the United States form its government”, the first result (no-click feature) is the title that represents its comprehensiveness: United States Constitution: The Terms, Ratifications & Summary. That is sure to get a click from searchers who want to know more than what is returned in the no-click feature.
Brief detailed meta descriptions can also entice searchers to click. Google in general truncate description to 155 to 160 characters. Make sure every character counts. Write descriptions that keep searchers interested in clicks. Use words like “comprehensive” and “in-depth” to denote content that goes beyond the surface.
. @Google usually truncates meta descriptions to 155 to 160 characters. Make sure every character counts, @AnnGynn said via @CMIContent @semrush. #SEO Click to Tweet If you have a strong, relevant meta description, Google is more likely to use it instead of publishing its own description culled from snippets of the page's content.
Content structure and length
Intended for title and meta description to deliver, your content must deliver. Long form content can assist searchers interested in diving into the topic. But longer content alone won't cut it. Use a structure that is easy to read or follow. Use subheadings (H2, H3, etc.) to highlight the main areas of the subtopic. Include bulleted information. Highlight useful phrases or important points.
For longer, multi-topic sections, think about adding a table of contents at the top with a bookmark for each section. Readers can then click and jump directly to the “chapter” they want to read.
TIP: Long-form content structure that is easy for searchers to read can also lead to some no-click results because formatting can be easily information has been collected – and understood – by Google.
To click or not click
Splitting your SEO strategy in half doesn't mean you have to choose one or the other. It requires you to establish intent for content that you hope to rank for on search engine results pages. When you set specific SEO goals — and understand what searchers read — you'll be better positioned to achieve the optimization you want.
All the tools mentioned in this section are suggested by the author. If you'd like to suggest a tool, feel free to add it in the comments.
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute