Google Ends Continuous Scroll SERPS: What It Really Means

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Google has announced the discontinuation of continuous scrolling in search results (SERPs) to enhance the speed of delivering search results. However, skeptics within the search marketing community have raised doubts about this explanation. What might be the true motivation behind this decision?

Continuous Scroll In Search Results

Infinite scroll, popularized by social media, allows users to continuously navigate through content without specific endpoints, promoting aimless discovery.

In 2021, Google introduced Continuous Scrolling in mobile search results, displaying up to four pages of web results before prompting users to click for more. This update was well-received by site owners and the search marketing community as it increased the potential for exposing more sites to searchers.

No More Continuous Scroll

The Verge recently reported that Google will eliminate continuous scrolling to speed up the delivery of search results. Initially, this change will affect desktop search results, with mobile search results following suit later.

According to The Verge:

“Instead of continuous scrolling on desktop, Google will reintroduce its classic pagination bar. This allows users to jump to a specific page of search results or click ‘Next’ to proceed to the following page. On mobile, a ‘More results’ button will appear at the bottom of searches to load the next page.”

What’s The Real Impact?

Google states that the shift aims to expedite search result delivery, but many in the search marketing community harbor skepticism for valid reasons. Recently released emails from the U.S. Department of Justice reveal Google’s top executives discussing strategies to increase advertising within search results.

Brett Tabke, founder of the Pubcon search marketing conference and originator of the SERPs acronym, shared his perspective on discontinuing continuous scrolling:

“This change effectively consolidates more clicks onto page one, leading to a higher click-through rate for ads and Google-owned properties. It appears to signal Google’s transition toward a new version resembling a portal rather than a traditional search engine. Organic search results may be relegated to page two and possibly to a new domain in the future.

What remains on page one?

1) Google Ads
2) Links to Google-owned properties
3) Google’s summarized content
4) A link to page two

This move suggests Google’s intention to satisfy most queries with their own responses, supplemented by ‘people also ask’ queries leading back to SERPs where they can fulfill the search with their own properties and responses.”

Brett’s skepticism is shared by others.

Reflecting widespread doubt about Google’s intentions, many have expressed their skeptical views on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter).

One user tweeted:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this change hurts ad clicks at the bottom of the page or on page 2+.”

Another tweet echoed the common perception that Google is reducing the visibility of independent websites:

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

Lastly, an anonymous account under the handle “Google Honesty” offered a blunt critique of Google’s motives:

“Continuous scroll puts everyone on page one.

We prefer to crush your spirit.

It’s more demoralizing to be on page 6.

Pagination in search enables this ✅”

Good For Goose. Not For Gander?

While some interpret Google’s decision to end continuous scrolling in SERPs as ominous, others view it differently.

Kevin Indig highlighted an uncomfortable truth about continuous scrolling, suggesting it’s not universally beneficial:

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

He noted that while continuous scrolling works well for social media platforms, it often fails to meet user expectations on other types of websites. Many agree it’s not the optimal solution and can lead to a subpar user experience, particularly outside the realm of social media.

It’s widely acknowledged among site owners and search marketers that continuous scrolling may not offer the best user experience and can pose challenges for SEO in certain contexts.

In some respects, it’s prudent to step back and acknowledge that infinite scroll thrives in the social media landscape, where casual browsing and interaction are the norm. However, its suitability diminishes in contexts where browsing serves specific purposes, such as ecommerce, informational sites, or search results. Purposeful browsing demands structured navigation, not endless scrolling.

From this perspective, Google’s assertion that continuous scrolling didn’t align with the user experience of search results might have been more credible. Yet, their chosen explanation hasn’t resonated positively with many.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal