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Google Discontinues Continuous Scrolling: Implications for Search

2 min read

Google is ending continuous scrolling in search results, sparking intrigue and speculation. Google has announced that it is ending continuous scrolling in the search results (SERPs) to speed up the serving of search results. However, many in the search marketing community are skeptical of this explanation, leading to numerous questions. What’s really going on here?

 

Continuous Scroll in Search Results

 

Infinite scroll, popularized by social media, allows users to navigate content aimlessly in a state of constant discovery. In 2021, Google adopted Continuous Scrolling in mobile search results, displaying up to four pages of web results before requiring users to click a link to see more. This change was welcomed by site owners and the search marketing community because it created the possibility of exposing more sites to searchers.

 

End of Continuous Scroll

 

According to a recent report by The Verge, Google has opted to eliminate continuous scrolling to enhance the speed of search result delivery. This change will initially be implemented on desktop search results and later extend to mobile search results.

The Verge stated:

“Replacing continuous scroll on the desktop will be Google’s traditional pagination bar, enabling users to navigate to a page of search results or simply click ‘Next’ to proceed. On mobile, a ‘More results’ button will appear at the bottom of searches to load subsequent pages.”

 

What’s The Real Impact?

 

Google’s decision to remove continuous scroll, purportedly to speed up search result delivery, has sparked skepticism within the search marketing community, and for valid reasons. Recently released emails from the U.S. Department of Justice reveal Google’s senior management discussing methods to increase advertising within search results.

Brett Tabke, founder of the Pubcon search marketing conference and originator of the term “SERPs,” expressed concern about the shift away from continuous scroll:

“It effectively boxes more clicks onto page one. This will lead to more clicks going to Ads and Google properties. This is further evidence that Google is transitioning towards a new version of a portal rather than a search engine. Organic search results may be pushed to page two and eventually to a different domain.”

Tabke’s skepticism is shared by many. A general disbelief in Google’s intentions has surfaced prominently on social media (formerly Twitter). One tweet suggests:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this change hurts bottom-of-the-page / top-of-page 2+ ad clicks.”

Another reflects growing concerns over Google’s diminishing display of links to independent websites:

“Why not consolidate into one page with Google AI, Reddit, and the usual suspects? Who even clicks on page 2 anymore?”

A tweet from an anonymous account, “Google Honesty,” takes a critical stance on Google’s motives:

“Continuous scroll allowed everyone to compete on page one. We prefer to crush your spirit. It’s far more humiliating to be on page 6. Pagination in search allows this ✅”

 

Good For Goose. Not For Gander?

 

While skepticism abounds regarding Google’s decision to eliminate continuous scrolling in SERPs, contrasting viewpoints see merit in the change.

Kevin Indig pointed out an uncomfortable truth about continuous scrolling:

“Paginated SERPs are back! I’ve also found continuous scroll to be a subpar solution for websites.”

Indeed, while suitable for social media platforms, continuous scrolling may only sometimes enhance user experience. It often serves as an answer to a question irrelevant outside social contexts. Many site owners and search marketers agree it can be a poor user experience, especially in contexts like e-commerce or informational sites where purposeful navigation is crucial.

In this light, continuous scrolling might not align with the focused browsing typical of search results. Perhaps Google’s decision could be seen more credibly if framed as a response to user experience concerns rather than solely as an optimization for speed.

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Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]