Today, more than half of all Google searches end without a click. But, that doesn’t mean that users aren’t getting the information they set out to find. Thanks to Google’s ever-changing search algorithms, users get answers to their questions immediately after hitting “enter.” 

That’s because the answer to their query (also known as a rich answer) is presented right on the page – typically before organic search results. Since the purpose of their search has been fulfilled, there’s no reason for the user to click on a link and visit another website. 

How do zero-click searches work? Are they harmful or helpful for SEO for lawyers? What can you do to increase the odds of grabbing a piece of this coveted SERP real estate for your own law firm website? 

Here’s what you need to know.

How Do Zero-Click Searches Work?

Zero-click searches first rolled out back in 2014, when search engines like Google began to try to discern the intent behind user searches. In order to make searches more efficient – and experience better for the user – Google started offering answers on top of the search engine results page (SERP). 

How does Google determine which content is most relevant to the user’s inquiry?

Ultimately, content that shows up as a “zero-click” result will be:

  • Extremely relevant to the search, and
  • A clear and concise answer to the user’s question.

Google will also consider E-A-T: the author’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. 

Google’s AI may use other factors to determine the right page for the featured result. However, the search giant isn’t forthcoming about them, leaving SEO companies for lawyers to make their own conclusions.

What Type of Content Appears in Position Zero?

Content that occupies position zero comes in all shapes in sizes. 

Depending on the information a user is searching for, the content can appear as:

  • Featured snippets (text) — Definitions, answers, descriptions.
  • Tables — Usually used for comparisons.
  • Numbered lists — Steps in the process.
  • Bulleted lists — Best-of lists, ranked items, unranked items
  • Videos — how-to videos, explanation videos.
  • YouTube videos – Google can use your YouTube video as a snippet (usually “how-to” videos)

Overall, any type of content can find its way to the top of the SERP as long as it answers the user’s questions.

Content in position zero gets a coveted piece of real estate on the SERP. Besides pushing other search results down – and making it less likely that users will scroll down to find them – the boxed format makes it stand out.  

What Do Zero-Click Searches Mean For Attorney SEO?

If a potential client gets the answer to their question without clicking the link, wouldn’t SEO efforts suffer? Isn’t the point to get your law firm to rank high in organic results so that potential clients click through and visit your website? If half of all users aren’t clicking because the answer is presented to them on the SERP, isn’t that problematic if you’re trying to convert clicks into clients?

Not necessarily – especially if you’re able to win that coveted spot yourself. 

Sites that show up in the zero position can actually attract a substantial number of clicks. Even if a search doesn’t result in a click, occupying that zero position can help to improve authority and boost brand awareness.

According to the HubSpot study, on SERPs without a featured snippet, the first organic result typically gets 33% of all clicks. The second result gets 18% of user clicks. The rest get 11% or less.

When a SERP does have a featured snippet, the site occupying that position gets about 50% of all user clicks. That’s right: if a featured snippet appears, it’s going to get half of all user clicks. 

And, in turn, organic search results appearing below it will get significantly less than they would if the featured snippet weren’t there.

Are Zero Click Searches Bad News for SEO?

Zero-click searches aren’t bad for attorney SEO. It’s simply another incentive to make your content appealing to the target audience. You may be surprised to learn that 70% of snippets come from websites outside the first organic position. However, there’s a 90% chance that the corresponding website will rank in one of the top 5 organic spots.

With the vast amount of information that potential legal clients search for, the opportunities for appearing on position zero are endless. If you take the right approach, it’s possible to occupy the zero position and also rank well organically – increasing the likelihood that you’ll drive meaningful traffic to your site.

Should You Adjust Your Law Firm Marketing Strategy for Zero-Click Searches?

Besides catching the searcher’s attention with its formidable real estate, the zero position has a variety of important benefits:

  • Higher CTR — People who are looking for legal assistance need in-depth information. While the snippet may answer their immediate question, they are highly likely to click the link to learn more.
  • Brand awareness —Even if the client doesn’t click, seeing your website appear on the top spots of the SERPs helps them remember you. Next time prospects see your firm on search results, they are likely to recognize it.
  • Increased authority — Appearing on the featured snippet automatically presents your firm as an authority on the subject.

High Conversion Potential for Zero-Click Searches

For a law firm, the featured snippet is a valuable intake tool. It automatically weeds out searchers who are looking for simple answers to their questions. Meanwhile, potential clients who truly need assistance are more likely to click the link.

More often than not, when you get a click from a featured snippet, you gain access to a client with high conversion potential.

Attorney SEO is one of the most competitive in the digital marketing industry. There are a very limited number of positions on Google’s first search result page – and the higher up on the page you rank, the better. In every city across the nation, competition for these top spots is fierce. 

When you introduce a featured snippet or another piece of content above the other results – things become even more competitive.
So, how can you increase the odds of beating out the competition and landing a featured snippet for your law firm? Here are six things you can do to boost your chances.

Answer Questions

The main goal of the featured snippet is to answer the user’s question. That’s exactly what you need to do. Figure out which questions your clients are likely to ask and answer them on your website. Don’t shy away from structuring your headers as questions. Then, follow up with text that provides a concise (and informative) answer.

According to Moz’s study, the optimal length of the featured snippet paragraph is 40 to 50 words. That’s around 300 characters. Thankfully, you don’t need to come up with brand-new content to improve your shot at the zero position. You can review the old content on your website and repurpose it to fit the “question-answer” format.

Leave Bait

While your content needs to carry value to occupy the featured snippet space, it doesn’t have to be extensive. Since your goal is to bring the potential client to your website, use bait.

  • Inspire the reader to learn more about the subject with a CTA (Call to Action) like “learn more.”
  • Embed an internal link in the text you’re trying to get featured in the zero position. 
  • Use the keywords from the search in the content you’re trying to get featured. Google will automatically highlight them.

When designing content for a featured snippet, you need to maintain a delicate balance between value and cliffhangers.

Use Videos

As was discussed earlier, videos can easily appear in the zero position. With the popularity of video content on the rise, Google’s algorithms consider YouTube videos for top search results.

If you aren’t using videos in your content marketing strategy, zero-click searches could be an excellent reason to start. Almost 70% of people prefer videos to text when learning about a service.

Law firms can capitalize on this by creating videos that address and answer frequently asked questions or explain certain aspects of the law. 

Implement Q&A Sections

Since content that makes it to the zero position answers a question,  you need to provide as many answers as possible. The easiest way to do it is to create an FAQ. You can either dedicate the entire page to answers or add Q&A sections to your existing articles.

To get ideas for questions to answer:

Remember, Google can recognize synonyms and similar terms. So optimize your answers to match them as well.

Look for No-Competition Opportunities

Not all queries result in a zero-click search. For some of them, Google can’t find sufficiently good content, so none is displayed. This is an excellent opportunity to grab the zero position without competing for it.

To find these no-snippet possibilities, you simply need to generate as many questions as possible and check them in Google search.

Explore the Knowledge Panel

A featured snippet isn’t the only type of zero-click result. Another one is Google Knowledge Panel. Google uses a database called Knowledge Graph to design an information box (Knowledge Panel) that appears to the right of the search results and provides quick information related to the search. The user doesn’t need to enter a question to trigger a knowledge graph. They can just type a general search term like “probate law.”

Knowledge panels are a crucial local SEO tool. When the potential client enters your law firm’s name, the information about it appears in the knowledge panel, making the search easier. Then, to optimize your website for the knowledge panel, simply fill out your Google My Business profile and keep it updated.

Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

More and more often, people are using their mobile devices for their Google searches. When a voice command is used to conduct a search, 60% of SERPs return with a featured snippet. Many devices will read the result aloud based on the featured snippet or highlighted result – negating the need to actually lay eyes on the results page.

If you want to increase the odds of getting a featured snippet or having Google display information on your website on the SERP, make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices.

Taking Advantage of Zero-Click Searches for Attorney SEO

When information is presented right on a SERP, half of all Google searches end without a click. And, half of the clicks that do happen are won by the featured snippet. It just makes sense to try to create content that will be chosen to occupy this prized spot on a Google SERP. 

Even if you don’t rank organically, the right content can catapult your law firm’s website to the very top of the results page. In turn, you can gain authority, credibility, and clicks – giving your overall SEO efforts a significant boost. 

Knowing how to target the zero position can be challenging. Crafting content that has a fighting chance to land there is as much a science as it is an art. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. LawRank specializes in getting law firms just like yours to rank on the first page of Google. We take a comprehensive approach – targeting organic spots on the first page, the local pack, paid ads, and featured snippets. We write content with position zero in mind – and many of our clients reap the benefits.

Give our SEO for lawyers marketing agency a call or connect with us online to discuss your digital marketing needs. We can review your current situation, identify potential problems, and explain how our SEO specialists can help you really stand out in your market.