The Continuous Scroll: How Google’s Redesigned Search Results Pages Have Changed SEO

Maybe, like us, you’ve noticed a recent change in how Google presents their search results after you enter a search term. Whereas before you would have 10 results on a page, and you’d have to click through to page two and beyond, now the search results page is just one continuous (or “infinite”) scroll.

Google’s recent introduction of continuous scrolling on desktop search results represents a significant shift in how users interact with search engine results pages (SERPs). This change is designed to enhance user experience by providing a more fluid and efficient way to find information. The new feature also has profound implications for search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Here’s an in-depth look at continuous scrolling and its impact on SEO.

What is Continuous Scrolling?

Continuous scrolling, also known as infinite scrolling, eliminates the traditional pagination system where search results are divided into separate pages. Instead, as users scroll down, more results load automatically. This feature has been a mainstay on mobile devices and social media platforms, and its expansion to desktop searches aims to streamline the search process.

Enhanced User Experience

One of the primary benefits of continuous scrolling is the improved user experience. Users no longer need to navigate through multiple pages of search results, making it easier and faster to find relevant information. Continuous scrolling was always the way that mobile search results appeared, but now they are appearing this way on desktop as well. It’s definitely an improvement to Google’s search results pages.

Why This is Important

When users have to click to the next page of search results, most of them don’t. According to research, more than 90% of users don’t click to page two of search results, and instead change their search terms to specify what they are looking for. Likewise, recent research found that only .63% of users actually CLICK on a site from page two of the SERPs. So, the difference between page one and page two on Google’s search results was a massive difference. Now that has been erased. You can see why this is a bit of a game-changer!

Impacts on SEO

The introduction of continuous scrolling brings several implications for SEO, affecting how websites compete for visibility and traffic. Here are the key impacts:

  • Increased Visibility for Lower-Ranked Pages

  • With continuous scrolling, lower-ranked pages on the SERPs have a better chance of being seen by users. Traditionally, and as we explain above, the majority of clicks occurred on the first page of search results, with click-through rates dropping significantly on subsequent pages. Continuous scrolling reduces the friction of moving to “page 2” or beyond, potentially increasing the visibility and click-through rates of results that appear lower on the initial load.

  • Continued Importance of SERP Real Estate

  • While continuous scrolling can increase visibility for lower-ranked results, being positioned higher on the SERPs remains crucial. The top results will still receive the most attention and the highest click-through-rates, so SEO strategies that aim to achieve high rankings are still vital. However, there is now more opportunity for content that isn’t in the top positions to attract traffic. And there is less of a measurable difference between the #10 spot (on page one) and the number #11 spot (which used to be on page two).

  • Content Quality and Engagement

  • With more search results readily available, the importance of engaging, high-quality content is amplified. Users can easily keep scrolling to find what they are looking for, making it crucial for websites to capture attention quickly and provide value to retain visitors. Content that is informative, well-structured, and visually appealing will be more effective in maintaining user engagement.

  • Local and Featured Snippets

  • For local businesses and content that often appears in featured snippets, continuous scrolling could mean more competition but also more opportunities for visibility. Ensuring that local SEO is optimized and that content is structured to be featured in snippets becomes even more important. As we scroll through many results, websites that have extra visibility through featured snippets will be more visible than the competition.

Adapting SEO Strategies

To adapt to the changes brought by continuous scrolling, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Continue to Optimize for Higher Rankings: While lower-ranked pages may see more traffic, aiming for top positions remains essential. Focus on creating high-quality content that meets user intent and follows SEO best practices.
  • Enhance User Engagement: Develop content that is engaging and valuable to keep users on your site. Use compelling headlines, visuals, and clear, concise information. The more engaging your content is, the more Google will deliver it in high rankings on the SERPs.
  • Focus on Structured Data: Make sure that you are using structured data whenever possible so that you increase the chances that Google will give you a featured snippet, links, product results or more. Getting more space on the page becomes even more important.
  • Focus on Technical SEO: Ensure your website is fast, mobile-friendly, and free of technical issues that could hinder user experience.
  • Leverage Local SEO: Optimize for local search queries and ensure your business information is accurate and up-to-date to take advantage of increased local search visibility.

So, while Google’s shift to continuous scrolling on desktop search results could boost visibility for lower-ranked pages, it also necessitates adjustments in SEO strategies. It makes things like engagement, structured data and local optimization even more important, and also helps user experience by creating a more seamless search experience. Understanding the changes can help businesses successfully navigate this sea-change and continue to achieve strong search performance.

Curious how you can get more traffic to your site through organic search? Millennial Web Development can help you with SEO on your new web project. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to walk you through our services.