Google knows so much about you that when you search the answer you’re searching for often shows up on the first page and Google sets it up so you don’t need to keep searching elsewhere. That’s by design.
One Click, Bye
Let’s compare your Google search efforts to mine and to a survey of most Google users to see how they vary. I use Startpage instead of Google. Startpage strips out all of Google’s trackers but delivers the same search results. Most humans on planet earth that do online search use Google and they’re doing something that Google wants them to do.
In June of 2019, for the first time, a majority of all browser-based searches on Google.com resulted in zero-clicks.
What? No clicks. How can that be? Is the company behind that colorful, playful, cutely-named logo actually doing something, uh, well, dishonest?
June is when zero-click searches in browsers passed 50%, but the pie chart above shows that even before that, Google was sending a huge portion of search clicks to their own properties (~6% of queries and ~12% of clicks). Those properties include YouTube, Maps, Android, Google’s blog, subdomains of Google.com, and a dozen or so others (full list here).
In other words, Google knows you and your online search habits so well, and has enough online properties, that it can display a list so useful you don’t need to go anywhere else except one of Google’s walled garden properties.
How dominant is Google in online search?
The Google Maps App, Google Search App, and YouTube are installed on almost every mobile device in the US, and likely have so much usage that, if their search statistics were included, Google’s true market share would be 97%+.
Even worse, the actual clicks to Google’s properties has increased over the past decade while clicks to third party properties– not listed with favor in Google’s search results– have gone down.
Is that because users just love Google to death? Or, is it because Google favors Google properties and interests first, and everything else is an afterthought.
What about mobile devices with all those Google apps?
On mobile, where more than half of all searches take place, it’s a different story. Organic has fallen by almost 20%, while paid has nearly tripled and zero-click searches are up significantly. Even way back in January 2016, more than half of mobile searches ended without a click. Today’s, it’s almost 2/3rds.
Search engine results are terrible because you are not able to view a wide variety of website properties which have content to fit your request query. Instead, you’re being force fed a variety of pre-defined properties which help increase Google’s revenue first.
Google now specializes in what is called “Zero click” search. The Jumpshot definition is scary:
- The most literal definition is a search that results in zero website referrals, i.e. no web property receives a visit from the search.
- Searches that are answered by the results, searches that end because a user was frustrated and couldn’t find an answer, searches that end because something interrupted the searcher, or any other reason for a cessation of activity after the query would all count as “zero click” searches.
- Because Jumpshot only measures browser behavior, a click/action that takes a searcher out of the browser (for example, opening the phone app for a click-to-call, or the Google Maps app for driving directions) will be categorized under zero-click searches.
- Voice searches that show a screen of results are part of this analysis. Searches that are answered by a device’s audio (like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, etc. speaking an answer) are not counted.
Not only are politicians manipulating by espousing fake news rhetoric in superlatives rather than detail, Google seems to be doing a search engine results that works the same way.
Clearly, we are being manipulated.