Two weeks ago Google shook up the search world by testing searches that displayed zero results, or no link results, only answers. Today Liz & Sandro discuss this development & what it may mean for your small business.

Two stories and a tweet referenced in today’s episode can be found here, here and here.

As well as our episode 0274 ‘No Click Searches’ found here.

Episode 0278

Rise of the Zero Result Searches

Liz: [00:00:03] Hey there. Welcome back to Liz & Sandro’s Marketing Podcast. We talk about social media websites, SEO and so much more to help your small business grow on the Internet. Today we’re going to be talking about an intriguing new development with Google. This concept of zero results when you search.

Sandro: [00:00:22] Correct. Two weeks ago we had an episode called The Rise of the No Click Search. That is we discussed data showing more and more people are turning to Google but less people are actually clicking on any of the websites listed and linked to. So if people are searching for the Big Kahuna Burger menu or Midas Auto Repair hours getting those answers on Google results instead of actually clicking through to the big kahuna Burger Web site or Midas’ Web site you’re getting all your answers right there in Google. So that’s the rise of no click searches. Well now there is the No Result Searches.

Liz: [00:00:55] And when we first started talking about this I was so confused for a moment. Sandro’s like “no no this is a new thing. Zero results zero results.”

Sandro: [00:01:03] Well two weeks ago the search world and marketing world were ashook . . . Is that a real word?

Liz: [00:01:09] Just say “taken aback”.

Sandro: [00:01:10] Were taken aback when Google debuted the no results searches these are searches that display zero organic link results. So an example would be if you’re searching for the time in London you would search time in London and instead of giving you Web sites where you can see that or or understand why the time is what it is in London compared to your time. Let’s say you’re not London it would just show you the time in London with zero links or zero ways to figure out why or how or how they came to that conclusion.

Liz: [00:01:40] So essentially a blank page just with the current time in London. Now there is a link a little button that says “See All Results” so you can click and see them but they’re not actually on the page.

Sandro: [00:01:54] Correct. Or if you’re looking for conversion from meters to feet or miles. It’ll just give you the answer without linking you to the Science Foundation’s website for more results or how to how they came up with these results or why is a meter the length of a meter. It just gives you the answers.

Liz: [00:02:10] And that’s it.

Sandro: [00:02:11] That’s it. Problems arose pretty quickly the SEO community found some problems some of them are. . .

Liz: [00:02:19] So the first one we were reading about it. Time magazine let’s pretend you just do what you type in “time” and Google is going to show you the time. So again 11:15, 11:30 here in Cleveland as opposed to a whole page with everything potentially related to the word “time.”

Sandro: [00:02:36] And then some SEOs started noticing “hey well why would they do this. Maybe it’s for speed.” So reasons Google may want to do is speed. . . Speed up the answer get the server load server time down dramatically. And people start wondering “well you know they’re not showing any ads on these zero result searches.” But then somebody found an ad. If you search “date in London” they show you. . .

Liz: [00:03:00] Thinking you’re going to find a dating site in London.

Sandro: [00:03:02] Yes. All they show you are 2 ads for dating sites in London and then just what day the actual date is in London. So without any other organic result. So some people are pretty outraged by all this.

Liz: [00:03:13] And I don’t blame them. I mean think about how much time effort energy money has gone into building good organic SEO value and then suddenly you’re gone. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Sandro: [00:03:24] Yeah or if you’re the National Science Foundation or something and you have a great page on why a meter is the length that it is it’s it’s time light travels in a tenth of a second I think it is or the distance. So all those things you need to know or you will never you may not learn about anymore because Google just isn’t showing any of that it’s just giving you the answer. So let me just say as a consumer I see why Google is doing. This is a consumer friendly result. I just want the answers I want to know how much a Rolex costs. . .

Liz: [00:03:51] You’re going to keep bringing that up aren’t you?

Sandro: [00:03:55] I’m going to keep bringing up the Rolex’s. I want a Rolex, you got me thinking about that.

Liz: [00:03:59] And I’m really you know I’m trying to live a more minimalist life. I’m not trying to fill my house with crap so I’m resisting and again, I’m not really buying a Rolex. They’re ridiculously expensive.

Sandro: [00:04:12] But it seems to me this is a consumer friendly result. I see why Google is doing it. I like this a lot but I also understand why SEOs have a big problem with it. I believe this is something we should have expected or all seen coming and I believe someone else tweeted that already something we should have all seen coming those little results snippets at the top of every at the top of many results pages. . .

Liz: [00:04:32] The answer boxes. . . So yeah. If you have already achieved placement in a Google answer box does that put you in a good position? Well no not really because if we look at these examples there’s no link. It’s just date and time in London. So it’s not actually linking. So being in a Google answer box really is. . .

Sandro: [00:04:55] We don’t know.

Liz: [00:04:57] Yeah. It’s but it’s been good up until now. But with this change they’re testing it. It may not be beneficial at all.

Sandro: [00:05:03] Correct. And as of last week last Tuesday March 20th the first day of spring Google pulled this experiment and Danny Sullivan who used to be as SEO and a journalist he now works for Google has a front face of Google. He tweeted out, “we have enough data and feedback to conclude that the condensed view experiment should stop for now. The team will look at improving when and how it appears.” That’s his quote. So that tells me that it’s going to be coming back.

Liz: [00:05:30] They just need to work out some some internal bugs or whatnot.

Sandro: [00:05:34] Right like fix the “time in London” or “date in London” or “time” and figure out why or why it doesn’t work out well. But I believe it’s I’m pretty sure it’s coming back & as a consumer I think that’s great SEOs are freaking out. I’m sure Google will get this right. So let’s talk about quickly what does it mean for you as a business?

Liz: [00:05:52] It’s going to have some pretty big consequences long term. One of the articles that Sandro and I read suggested: “don’t name your brand anything to do with a math equation or conversion because you’re you know you’re going to have some trouble ranking in Google if if all Google displays is the equation and the results.” And this is interesting to me because we have done some branding projects. They’re. They’re a lot of fun because we get to flex those creative muscles but they present some challenges now for a couple of reasons especially when clients come to me and they say, “you know we we don’t want a made up word or we only want a made up word. We only want a dot com e-mail address or a dot com URL” and it’s like you know we’re in the 20th year of of dot coms there aren’t that many available. If you add add to this list you know of you know you can’t do anything creative or sound like a math equation you know that’s just one more thing that we’re going to have to work around from a branding perspective. So it’s going to present more challenges you know and Sandro and I we we still have to chat about our whole rebranding experience. You know we had some struggles going going through that process. So. So I know how difficult it can be. So that’s going to have definitely have some long term consequences I think for new businesses that are branding.

Sandro: [00:07:17] Or even existing businesses. I saw one example there’s a restaurant in London called Three by Five. So somebody typed in three times five and suddenly the only thing you see on the screen team is 15 or a calculator. You’re not seeing the restaurant or the hours. So if you want to name your business some numerical thing. . .

Liz: [00:07:36] It’s going to be a challenge.

Sandro: [00:07:37] Yes. If this is the way we’re going. So we wanted you to be aware if you’re a new SEO this is just a new challenge for all of you if you’re an old SEO. This is this is the challenge for all SEOs. Google is making it exciting. Obviously.

Liz: [00:07:50] They keep us on our toes.

Sandro: [00:07:52] But we wanted you to be aware that if your business starts with a number or numerical or a conversion or a unit of measurement then you may be in for some bad times ahead with google searches. It probably won’t impact very many of you but just know that it’s happening. We wanted you to make be aware and we’ll link to some of these articles and some of the tweets that we mentioned too in the show notes.

Liz: [00:08:14] Yeah and we’ll continue to chat about it as things continue to develop and Google pushes this out. So, awesome. I’m glad we dove into this topic today because it’s an interesting one. And thank you for joining us. Don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app. We have a new website we just launched. When you’re listening to this it will be last week. So we are TheMarketingPodcast dot net. Be sure to check us out. We are also on social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Send us an e-mail with your questions we’d love to hear from you and give you a shout out on the show. Thanks so much. And we’ll see you next time.