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Zero click search: the new consumer comfort zone

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Zero click search the new consumer comfort zone


30-second summary:

  • Zero click search presents advertisers with the opportunity to pro-long budgets during periods when the paid search landscape is hypercompetitive
  • Brands can cash in on zero click searches for the organic element of their overall search strategy to gain visibility and drive conversions
  • Barilla Group’s global digital & search marketing manager, Nitin Manhar Dhamelia advises on zero click search optimization and measurement

Historic context

Back in 1998 when Google was founded, it served 10,000 searches per day and by 2012 it was 3,500,000,000 searches per day.​ And in 2021, search volumes continue to explode with Google serving around 5,600,000,000 searches globally per day.​

Its success in becoming a transitive verb was borne when Google tasked itself with bringing order to the chaos of the world’s knowledge. It knew that to achieve this magnitude of top-of-mind awareness, the key would be to create a window to the web that was inclusive, accessible, and easy to understand for the general population; it knew that inclusivity would accelerate adoption. Even today, the search giant is always working on improving the consumers’ search experience and 2021 saw several key algorithm updates roll out – passage ranking, page experience, page titles, MUM, mobile-first indexing, and more.

Not too far ahead in the future, Google is going to make it even easier for consumers to access information about brands.​ But why?

Micro funnels

Because people visit Google in key decision-making moments along the buyer journey – essentially, each Search session can be deemed a micro funnel. In fact, after the pandemic, there is no undoing the great reset. Nearly, 15 percent of Google search queries Google attended were first of their kind. And 81 percent of consumers discovered new brands online during the pandemic.

“There isn’t a world where people revert back to their 2019 behaviours, and part of that is now a part of their comfort zones.” – Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy

Google’s own recent retail report identified four key consumer insights:

  1. Dynamic demand: People’s buying patterns will continue to change in response to unpredictable times
  2. Digital inspiration: People will use the internet to be inspired
  3. Convenience: People will prioritize convenience while shopping
  4. Supportive spending: People will be more mindful of how and where they spend their dollars with “values” playing a major influencer

Even though less favored by advertisers, zero click searches are pockets of opportunity for brands to focus on as part of their branded search strategy.

With great power comes great responsibility

With its always-on innovation focus, Google is constantly expected to eclipse itself (for the better) and the way it aims to achieve that is by presenting information in ever more easy-to-digest consumer-friendly formats.​

Its solution? Bringing convenience and comfort to their searcher’s online journey with zero click search. This means redesigning the search experience to align with a lucid consumer journey, which in some cases implies that – the journey both starts and ends in Google, and without a single click in the search results:

Squid Game Google zero click search

In terms of how this translates into volumes of searches, take a look at the data from an industry study below:

Zero click search data

What does this mean for brands?

In my own research the split of traffic between the core search marketing channels for a keyword that has a “need” intent, calculates to:

  • Paid: 6.5 percent
  • Organic (above the fold): 31.5 percent
  • Organic (below the fold): two percent
  • Zero Click Searches: 60 percent

Extraordinarily, the last number isn’t too far off an original 2020 study that was made of a sample size that is far greater than most brand marketers might have immediate access to.

However, when smaller, localized in-house studies surface very similar results it drives the conversation forward into where we need to focus a proportion of our overall search budgets: creating data-driven content that contributes to adding value and top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) to consumers.

Tips for brands to optimize and measure zero click search

The people also ask (PAA) feature in Google (essentially website content derived FAQs in Search results) are around six times more likely to appear in a search results page versus featured snippets.  And therefore, PAA should not be underestimated as a branding tool. So the first tip is to create editorial content that resides on your website and optimize for PAA – using long-tail search data.

And the second tip is to optimize your content for featured snippets across brand and partner websites – your keyword traffic or search traffic insights could help prioritize this activity internally.

Another interesting insight that stood out was – regardless of the industry, most “big” brands will trigger a PAA.

PAA box visibility stats

Measuring zero-click performance

Gauging the impact of zero click search remains a frequently asked question itself and a continued enigma that has hampered brands from focusing on this highly important search facet. These are some valuable avenues for search marketers to track the zero click search features’ performance:

1. Understand relativity

Understand the relationship between impression volume and average ranking for a target keyword(s) in the Google search console to create insights into where branded content can trigger a zero click search result.

2. Track soft metrics

This is where the soft metric shines – so by focusing on zero click SERP features for brand vs competitor domains, it’s possible to create an index to track the outcomes and evolution of a soft metric such as ‘share of intent’. This will help you grow product or service awareness/consideration via the zero click search element of your Search Strategy.

Piecing all this information and tailoring it to your brand will positively add a new dimension to your search marketing strategy.


Nitin Manhar Dhamelia is the global digital & search marketing manager at Barilla Group. Nitin has a 15-year track record of global B2B/B2C team management, governance, commercial experience, across Americas, EMEA, APAC.

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Google Be Colorful Sign from Peter The Greeter

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Google Be Colorful Backdrop


Here is a photo from Peter the Greeter at the GooglePlex in front of a “Be Colorful” sign that is super colorful with a lot of fun scenery around it. I assume this was for the Pride celebrations at the Google office.

He shared this on Instagram.

This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.





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Google Automatically Selecting Background Colors For Search Result Snippet Images

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Google Automatically Selecting Background Colors For Search Result Snippet Images


Over the past few months Google has been auto-selecting background colors not just for image search results and not just for shading Google Shopping Ads but also for images added to the search result snippets in Google Search.

Punit spotted this a few months ago and he shared a couple examples on Twitter that shows how Google is taking an image with maybe a light gray background and then replacing it with a green background. He has more examples but here is the bigger one.

On the left is an image of a heel on a dark green background in the Google Search result image snippet:

But if you looked at the web page, that image as on a light gray background:

Here are more examples:

Pretty cool for Google to do this but I do wonder if the publishers won’t like Google changing the image backgrounds like this?

Forum discussion at Twitter.





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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers


The number of online surveys has risen dramatically in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

From short social media polls to lengthy feedback forms, it’s never been easier to survey your target audience and find out what exactly they’re thinking.

When it comes to free survey makers, you have plenty of options to choose from.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is you have to wade through your options to figure out the best survey tool for you.

In this article, I’ve done that dirty work for you.

Below I outline the top six free survey makers, with a simple bulleted list of their pros and cons, so you can quickly select the best one for your needs.

But first up, the caveats.

What You’re Missing With Free Survey Makers

When something’s free, there’s usually a catch. The same goes for free survey makers.

Free survey tools, or the free plan offered by a paid survey tool, often come with the following limitations:

  • Limited export options. You may not be able to export your survey data for review in Excel or Google Sheets. There may be a PDF-only export option or no export ability at all.
  • Limited analytics. Free survey tools often skimp on the analytics. You may be left to your own pivot tables and Excel expertise if you want to create anything fancy from your survey data.
  • Limited survey functionality. This runs the gamut, from a limit on how many respondents or questions you can have per survey, to only allowing so many question types (e.g., multiple-choice, long-form, etc.).
  • Limited extra perks. By perks, I mean those other features that make software from good to great. With survey makers, that might mean easy-to-access support, the ability to embed surveys in email or webpages, multiple user accounts, or integration with other email marketing or CRM software.
  • No branding. Free survey makers give you their tools for free. In return, you provide them with free brand awareness. Don’t expect to be able to swap out their logo for your own. You’ll probably be stuck with their branding, along with a prominent link to their site throughout the survey or on the thank you page (or both).

If any of the above is a dealbreaker for you, you should plan to drop a little dough on a paid survey tool. That’s why I’ve also included the starting price for all six of the tools featured below.

In case you end up having to upgrade later, it’s easier to do so from a tool you’re already familiar with.

Top 6 Free Survey Tools

Without further ado, I present the best free survey makers you’ll find today. These are listed in no particular order.

1. Google Forms

Screenshot by author, June 2022

Do you live and die by your Google Drive?

Great news: Google also offers free survey software via Google Forms.

Alright, I know I just said these were presented in no particular order, but I’ll openly admit Google Forms is my personal favorite. Just look at all of the features they include in their free plan!

All you need is a free Google account to get started.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Export to Google Sheets.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Ability to embed images and YouTube videos.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website and share to social media.
  • Survey analytics, updated in real-time.
  • Integration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides.
  • Unlimited collaborators.
  • Customizable survey templates.
  • Free branding.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Enhanced security and collaboration options.
  • Integration with your existing Google Workplace account.

Price: Completely free. Google Workplace pricing starts at $6 per user per month.

Best for: Anyone and everyone, for business or casual use.

2. SurveyMonkey

surveymonkeyScreenshot by author, June 2022

SurveyMonkey is the online survey tool. Established in 1999, it’s still the most well-known online survey software.

Despite the limitations of its free plans, SurveyMonkey continues to be popular thanks to its intuitive interface and brand recognition. Notable clients include Allbirds, Tweezerman, and Adobe.

One nice perk is that you can test out any of the paid features with your free plan. (You just won’t be able to actually use it in your live survey until you pay up.)

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions.
  • 15 question types.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Over 250 customizable survey templates.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Mobile app.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions, question types, and responses.
  • Data exports – this is a biggie!
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Advanced security (single sign-on, HIPAA compliance).
  • A/B testing.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $16 per month for individuals, $25 for teams.

Best for: Those who want a tried-and-true survey maker with all the features you could ask for.

3. Typeform

typeformScreenshot by author, June 2022

Many online survey tools are designed for the general public.

Readers of Search Engine Journal will be happy to hear that there’s a survey tool created just for us. Typeform was built specifically with marketers, UX researchers, and business owners like us in mind.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 10 responses per month.
  • Basic question types.
  • Basic reporting and analytics
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Integrations with MailChimp, HubSpot, Trello, Google Sheets, Zapier, and more.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Custom thank you screen.
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Ability to accept payment.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Integration with Facebook pixel and Google Tag Manager.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users, UX researchers, and marketers hoping to track customer behavior.

4. Zoho Survey

zoho surveyScreenshot by author, June 2022

Zoho Survey is part of the same Zoho suite of apps that caters to sales, HR, IT, finance, and virtually any kind of business user you can think of.

Given their tenure creating SaaS software for business, their survey tool is just as robust as you might expect. Customers include big names like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Change.org.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website, or share to social media.
  • Export to PDF.
  • 250 survey templates.
  • Password protection and HTTPS encryption.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Ability to export to XLS or CSV.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Real-time responses.
  • Multilingual surveys.
  • Integration with Google Sheets, Tableau, Shopify, Zendesk, Eventbrite, and others.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Best for: Zoho users, or anyone who needs an extra level of security for their surveys.

5. Alchemer

alchemer survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

Alchemer is an advanced survey maker developed for the enterprise client.

Paid features include custom coding so you can customize every single element of your survey, from the survey URL to the form logic.

They stand out among free survey makers for being one of the few (besides Google Forms) to offer unlimited questions and Excel exports in their free plan. Clients include Disney, Salesforce, Verizon, and The Home Depot.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Three surveys at a time.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • 100 responses.
  • 10 question types.
  • Export to Excel.
  • Customizable templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Unlimited question types.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Ability to embed surveys in websites.
  • Export to PDF, PowerPoint, or Word.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Survey analytics and reporting.
  • Ability to accept payment.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $49 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users needing to create long surveys with advanced logic and question types.

6. Jotform

jotform survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

With over 10,000 templates, Jotform takes the cake as the survey maker with the most form templates on our list.

Jotform also stands out for letting you accept payments with the free plan (although you’re limited to 10).

This popular survey maker includes clients as wide-ranging as AMC and Nickelodeon to Redfin and the American Medical Association.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Five surveys.
  • 100 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website.
  • Export to PDF or Excel.
  • 10,000 survey templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • HIPAA compliance.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Users who want a template for every kind of survey possible.

Which Survey Tool Will You Use?

There truly is a survey maker for everybody.

The above options are all solid choices. Which one works for you may depend on your organization’s needs and your personal preferences.

Take advantage of the free trials and see which one you like best.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock





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