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Local Memo: 64% of Google Searches End with Google

 

In this week’s update, learn about Rand Fishkin’s new Google research; a reduction in brand spending on TikTok; and some new Google local interface changes. 

 

64% of Google Searches End with Google

 

The News

 

Rand Fishkin at Spartktoro has published an updated version of the so-called “zero click” search studies he has conducted in the past, the last of which was released in 2021. In the new report, Fishkin examines user search behavior in both the U.S. and the European Union, making use of a clickstream panel comprising several million user devices, provided by Datos. 

 

Updating the findings of the 2021 study, which demonstrated that “self-preferencing” causes nearly 65% of Google searches to end with no click to a website, Fishkin now finds that, in the U.S., approximately 58.5% of searches belong to the zero-click category. The number is slightly down but still significant. Moreover, Fishkin shows that, of those searches that result in a click, only 70.5% go to non-Google properties, with 28.5% of clicks going to YouTube, Google Maps, Google Images, and other Google-owned sites. 

 

In Europe, despite evidence that Google is reducing self-preferencing in response to anti-monopoly pressure from the E.U., the numbers are roughly similar, with 59.7% of searches ending without a click and 24% of clicks going to Google sites. 

 

Fishkin sums up the result by showing that, in the U.S., only 360 out of every 1,000 searches end up on the open web — the remainder, 64% of all queries, ending with Google. The number is only slightly higher at 374 for the E.U.

 

A chart showing what happens in 2024 when Americans and Europeans search on Google

 

Why This Matters

 

The study demonstrates that zero-click search, by which Google answers many queries without the need to click through to a website, is still a dominant mode of usage, and moreover that when users do click, many of them do not go to the open web but rather visit other Google properties. Despite the supposed threats of AI platforms and alternative search engines, Fishkin finds no evidence that Google’s dominance in search has diminished. He also looks at the impact of AI Overviews, released and then rolled back in the U.S. in May, finding a decrease in mobile search traffic in the U.S. that may have been a root cause of Google’s decision to roll back the feature. Generally speaking, the study helps to reinforce the importance for marketers of Google as a destination. Many consumers will find their answers there without clicking through to your company’s website. 

 

Brands Reduce Spending on TikTok Amidst Threat of Ban

 

The News

 

A report from Adweek shows that TikTok ad spend declined in both April and May, in the wake of the passage of a U.S. bill potentially banning the app in March. User growth is also flat according to the report. Ad spend is up year over year, but down in comparison to previous months. Four of TikTok’s top ten advertisers, including Target and DoorDash, reduced spending during the period. Target’s spending decreased in April by 30%. 

 

Why This Matters

 

Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today suggests that an eventual ban is at least somewhat likely to take place, but reminds us that TikTok’s popularity remains strong. For the foreseeable future, the app remains a valuable platform for advertisers and content creators who can tap into its audience, which is increasingly turning towards in-app shopping in the wake of last year’s U.S. launch of TikTok Shop. 

 

Roundup of Google Local Updates

 

The News

 

As reported by Mike Boland on the Localogy blog, an update to the Chrome browser for mobile has made it easier to reach action buttons for local business results, with buttons like “Call,” “Directions,” and “Reviews” appearing in the suggested queries dropdown as you type. 

 

 

An image showing how Google has made it easier to call a business or get directions to the business as you're typing it into Google

 

Several users, including Mike Blumenthal and SOCi’s Mike Snow, have spotted another notable change related to action buttons, where some local results only show these buttons for sponsored listings and not for organic results. This type of result is not showing for all users. 

 

 

 

 

Also spotted by SOCi’s Mike Snow is the recent appearance of thumbs up icons accompanying attributes in local results. These are appearing on mobile for restaurant searches as well as, in this example, a search for kids’ activities. It’s unclear at this point what is triggering the thumbs up icon to appear – note that in this example the highlighted attributes do not exactly match the query language. 

 

 

An image showing the thumb icon next to Google attributes in a Google search for deals on kid activities near me

 

Why This Matters

 

It’s always a good idea to track changes in Google’s local interface that may have an impact on business performance, or reveal new opportunities to optimize your Google Business Profiles. The appearance of action buttons in autosuggest results merely gives consumers an opportunity to contact you or visit your profile more quickly; whereas the thumbs up icon, if it rolls out broadly, may reveal new optimization opportunities. 

Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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