How B2B Companies Can Survive in a Clickless Search Ecosystem

Are B2B companies ready for a clickless world?

According to a recent study, June 2019 marked the first time less than half of Google searches generated a click to a website. Based on data from 40 million browser-based searches on desktop and mobile devices in the U.S., 50% were classified as zero-click, while 45% and 4% resulted in organic clicks and ad clicks, respectively. 

Customers are more likely to find what they need directly on Google’s SERP, without clicking through to a website. Given that more users are searching on mobile and a growing number are using voice assistants to access information without any visual interface at all, the number of clickless searches is only going to rise. 

The dawn of the clickless world might raise alarms for B2Bs companies, and that’s fair. This trend will likely pose a challenge for companies that rely heavily on Google for new business leads — especially small businesses that generate a majority of leads from search traffic. 

However, the clickless world also presents an opportunity for B2B brands to streamline their online presence. In this new ecosystem, B2B brands can generate awareness and encourage customers to contact their business even before a customer actually sees their website. 

Taking advantage of the SERP to reduce friction

Google’s support for structured data highlighted directly on the SERP is more sophisticated than ever, allowing businesses to display rich information beyond contact information, hours, and addresses. Using this feature efficiently, B2Bs can proactively answer common questions and solve problems for customers even if those customers don’t continue on to their website. At a time when customers’ patience is wearing thin and instant gratification is valued, this capability is actually a pro and not a con.  

Reducing friction for consumers goes beyond making quick facts easily available. B2Bs must enable customers to conveniently set up an appointment, make an immediate purchase, or sign up for a free trial of a product or service. By understanding the types of information customers need to convert without visiting a website, businesses can ensure this structured data is optimized to be prominently featured on the SERP. While this doesn’t directly impact search rankings, it improves user experience and increases the odds of a conversion (especially for clickless browsers). 

Preparing for a voice-driven future 

The popularity of smart assistants plays an important role in driving the trend of increasing zero-click searches — especially given that 91 million US consumers use voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. In fact, a third of those consumers will use a voice assistant for daily tasks this year. As clickless searches grow more prevalent, B2Bs must change their approach to making information accessible to customers. 

The types of queries performed via voice search tend to be direct and loaded with intention since there is no visual interface. Typically, these searches are more like commands than they are research-oriented — e.g., “Siri, call the closest Home Depot.” With more customers asking for directions, hours, and phone numbers, B2Bs need to optimize their SEO strategy to include voice and accommodate direct actions via voice search. In the long term, this might require hiring a designated voice SEO manager to ensure success as this technology drives more change.  

Preparing for the future

Without a creative and flexible approach, the rise of clickless search poses the risk that B2Bs will experience lower search traffic and limited marketing power. That means marketers not only need to rethink their approach to digital marketing but also ensure they have the right tools in place to track their efforts so they can effectively allocate budget toward the most successful campaigns. 

B2Bs shouldn’t rely on SEO ranking alone for generating leads. While search traffic will always be a powerful source of new leads, B2B companies must diversify their marketing tactics to survive in the clickless world. 

Kevin Mann is CPO and co-founder of CallRail

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