Google searches end without a click almost a third of the time

  • Google is increasingly saving traffic for itself, based on data showing that the majority of search users do not click on another site.
  • The findings will be food for Google’s antitrust critics, who fear it will wipe out online ad revenue.
  • Google said the study was flawed and does not reflect how people search for information online.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Nearly two-thirds of Google search queries end without users clicking on a single result, according to a new analysis.

According to data compiled by Rand Fishkin, the CEO of audience intelligence platform SparkToro, 65% of Google searches on mobile and laptop ended without users clicking on another domain.

The bottom line is that, in a large number of cases, Google is directing its billions of search engine users its valuable eyes to its own properties. Google, along with Facebook, dominates the digital advertising market and in the fourth quarter of 2020 made $ 32 billion in revenue primarily from search.

Fishkin published research earlier in 2019 that suggested that just over 50% of Google queries ended without a click. He cautioned that it was difficult to compare the 2019 and 2020 research because it used different data sources as the basis for the analysis, but, he wrote, the trend was “increasing click cannibalization by Google.”

Fishkin also noted that the total number of searches is growing, probably because many of us have been trapped behind screens all day during the pandemic.

One of the main concerns of critics of Google will be the idea that the search giant is finding ways to keep people on its own properties, potentially at the expense of third-party sites and publishers.

For example, a Google search for “COVID-19 deaths” provides the following, with information drawn from sources such as the New York Times, Wikipedia, and the World Health Organization placed at the top of the page, before the clickable links. sources.

Google COVID data

Google has started to display charts, maps and graphs with data from external sources.


Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this informant securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or by email ([email protected]). Communicate with a non-work device.

Similarly, a time-of-day search would likely return the necessary information without the user having to click through a weather website.

“In the past three years, Google has been the major beneficiary of increased search volume around the world,” Rand added. “And as the pandemic shifts more people off their laptops and desktops and back onto their mobile devices, the problem of clickless search is likely to increase even further.”

However, in a blog post published Wednesday, Google dismissed the research, highlighting a number of reasons why search queries don’t generate clicks, including: “people search for quick data,” “people rephrase their queries. “and” people navigate directly to applications. ”

“We care deeply about the open web and have continually improved Google Search over the years, helping businesses, publishers and creators prosper,” it reads. “While we currently display website links for many queries when they are the most useful answer, we also want to create new features that organize information in more useful ways than just a list of links.”

Google is under pressure about how it presents results in the US and the EU, specifically its “OneBoxes”, the prominent squares of text or images that appear when you search, for example, for holiday destinations or the weather in a particular city.

A host of employment and travel companies have accused the tech titan of using their domain in search to expand into niche search services, such as Google Flights or Google Travel, at the expense of competition.

In a letter signed by companies like TripAdvisor, Expedia and Trivago, more than 130 lodging, travel and job vacancies from around the world said that Google has “[leveraged] your unassailable dominance in the general Internet search … to gain a competitive advantage. “

Insider reached out to Google for further comment.

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