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Google really, really wants you to know that it sends more traffic to the open web every year. Really.

person holding pen pointing at graph

In an earlier post, I looked back to the furore that Rand Fishkin and SparkToro created when they claimed that two-thirds of Google searches resulted in no clicks in 2020. As I surf the web, I often share interesting links to my blog(s) as draft posts to come back to later and write up into a full post. Clearing through my backlog today, I came across this absolute gem from around the time of the ZeroClickPocalypse – Google’s own Danny Sullivan taking the time out his schedule to publically call out the zero-clicks research and give Google’s side of the story.

Here it is: https://blog.google/products/search/google-search-sends-more-traffic-open-web-every-year/

Basically, Google’s defense boils down to four things:

  1. Sometimes people “reformulate their queries”
  2. Sometimes people use the “quick facts” (aka snippets) that Google produces
  3. Sometimes people click on a Google My Business link and call/email the business
  4. Sometimes people go straight to an app like Netflix

I’ve got two big problems with this:

  1. Obviously Google are sending more traffic every year. There is more traffic to send.
  2. Snippets are the very thing that most people are complaining about.

Google goes to great pains to lean into their licensing agreements for certain data, but don’t talk about all the data that they scrape, repackage, and re-use without permission from an innumerable amount of other sites. They also don’t talk about the businesses who have a website but aren’t signed up to Google My Business and are therefore less represented. They don’t talk about the costs associated with putting an app in the store or the percentage they charge on in-app purchases.

To me, the whole thing smacks of a whitewash and the brightness of that white is particularly stark when you consider that Google have started losing antitrust cases in the EU and that the US DOJ now has them firmly in its sights.

What I’d love to know is what percentage of searches that Google to send to the open web now result in no click through. That is the number that matters.