How Google search perpetuates its status as the most visited site on the web / digital information world


It’s no secret that Google is the gateway to the web. After all, the name of the company has become synonymous with research. However, Google also consistently holds the crown for the most visited webpage on the internet.

In SimilarWeb’s list of top ten most visited websites worldwide, only two other search engines, Baidu and Yandex, appear. Based in China and Russia respectively, these other search engines are designed primarily to serve these markets, so their appearance in the global rankings speaks volumes about their power in those markets.

At the top of the website rankings, Google is the only search engine on the list with a truly global audience.

This position is also consistent. According to a number of clues, each with its own method of measuring traffic, Google always seems to take the top spot. How do they go about doing this, when the site’s sole purpose is to help users find other sites?

Of course, since Google sits right on this side of a monopoly in the search market (over 91% globally and over 87% in the US), it stands to reason that the site receives a lot of traffic. However, things get a bit tricky when you consider the growing number of features on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) designed to answer questions without the need to visit another site.

Featured Snippets, Local Results, and related searches all provide ways for users to get their information straight to the Google results page, rather than having to click and explore various sites. Ultimately, while these features are certainly handy for users, they have a growing percentage of searches that start and end with Google – and sites providing these answers don’t see any traffic.

What is a clickless search?

The term “click-free search” refers to a search query that is answered directly on the SERP, without the user needing to click on any of the results. Technically, there may still be clicks – to dial a phone number, for example – but the user never leaves Google to visit another web domain.

Earlier in 2021, SparkToro analyzed data from SimilarWeb and found that a whopping 64.82% of all searches worldwide in 2020, both desktop and mobile, ended up on the SERP without any clicks to a website. outdoor property. This number is even higher when you isolate only mobile devices – 77.22% of them were click-free searches. And these percentages seem to tend to increase.

If this is true, it effectively means that a huge amount of all web traffic begins and ends on Google.

For its part, Google claims that these statistics are misleading and that the traffic it sent to external sites “has increased every year since the creation of Google search.” It has also been argued that the data used for these analyzes cannot be complete and does not take into account user intent. As such, many in the SEO community feel that it shouldn’t be taken at face value.

However, while Google doesn’t intentionally cannibalize search results, it seems that more and more traffic never overtakes the site, which essentially means that is seeing an increasing percentage of all pages served on the site. Web. This is a particularly troubling trend when you consider the effort people put into posting content specifically to rank on Google, thereby driving traffic.

Let’s see why.

How SERP Features Have Evolved Over Time

When it started, Google search results pages were pretty straightforward – you got a list of websites that matched your query. Over the years, the company has introduced several additional items, such as Featured Snippets, Knowledge Cards and Knowledge Boards, Image Packs, and Local Packs.

While features like these are designed to be useful to researchers and get them the information they need faster, they also have the added impact of reducing the need to click on websites for answers to certain queries. . As a result, more traffic stays with Google.

Why is this bad? Well, on the one hand, many sites depend on traffic for monetization. Web traffic is big business, and losing it to Google isn’t even losing it to the competition – neither will it ever get, because Google is essentially the starting line for much of the world. web traffic.

However, there is another concern at stake: Google’s purported plans to remove advertising cookies and switch to a proprietary system to collect data on user behavior. This system would theoretically be more private than cookies, although Google does not have the best record when it comes to privacy.

However, if Google owns it and more and more traffic stops on Google, well, that’s a lot of information that a company has exclusive access to, and it could strengthen Google’s monopoly on data. .

How to optimize click-free search

Despite all of this, the reality for many businesses is that SEO is still essential for online success. And SEO actually means optimizing for Google. If Google favors click-free results, how can you make sure your site is the one delivering them?

Google doesn’t really publish the specific criteria it uses to decide who gets the rich SERP results. However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting one.

To optimize featured snippets, target a long tail query and answer that query directly on the page. For best results, this response should be in a discrete, query-specific paragraph. Like this paragraph, for example.

For local results, provide as much information as possible on your website and be sure to fill out your company’s Google My Business profile. This lets the search engine know where you are, what your hours are, and more, using their own data structures, making it easier to display that data in search results.

Beyond that, focus on general SEO best practices – higher ranking pages may have a better chance of getting rich results. Featured snippets tend to be pulled from the first search result, for example.

Clickless search may be the future

For better or for worse, Google currently serves as a gateway to much of the Internet. Click-free searches are likely to continue to increase this position. Optimize them now to stay ahead of the game and beat your competition.

Photo: David Gray | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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