Google’s Zero Results and How They May Affect You

Google’s Zero Results and How They May Affect You

Google has brought back ‘zero search results’ pages again for some queries. This occurs when they are completely confident that they are able to answer the searcher’s question entirely with just one snippet. As it stands, this is limited to calculations, time and conversion search results. So, for example, anyone searching for ‘what time is it in…’ or looking for maths answers or conversions will be presented with one simple snippet and a link to “show all results”. This link will then display the rest of the organic listings.

When does Google hide organic search results? Google will hide the main, organic search results when the phrase searched is specific to calculations, conversions and time related queries. However this is still entirely up to Google’s discretion, and if it believes the user may need to see further search results, then it will show more results by default.

As an example, here is what you’ll see if you search “time in india” on mobile:

However, if you compare this to the search term “time in new york”

You will see that Google serves more results by default. This is because it believes some searchers may be looking for results regarding the New York Times, and therefore it doesn’t’ want to restrict the information available.

Here’s Google’s official statement about the launch of the feature:

As always, our goal with search is to help people quickly find the most relevant information. For queries where we have extremely high confidence that a user is seeking a calculation, unit conversion or local time, we will show a single result to improve load time on mobile. Since our initial experiment in February, we worked to remove ads and improve the triggering quality for this experience to be sure that we’re serving users what they’re looking for, and we will still provide the option to tap to see more results.

When did Google test the feature? The feature was originally tested back in March, but wasn’t subsequently rolled out straight away. The general reaction wasn’t overly positive during the testing phase, so Google pulled the test after several days, stating that they would rethink the feature.

What didn’t people like about the feature? In certain cases, brands weren’t showing up for their own branded searches. It also prevented dating sites from showing in the results for queries relating to “date in xyz location”. In most cases Google has worked to resolve these issues, however as it stands, any searches relating to ‘date in london’ for example, will only present you with the date and not any options for finding love!

Why is this important? When it comes to sites that primarily deal with mathematics, conversions and formulas, we can expect them to take quite a hit as a consequence. Certain brand names may also continue to have issues, so any new businesses should take this into account when planning their brand name.