At the end of October 2021, Google made an important announcement regarding its mobile search engine: the introduction of "continuous scrolling" and the elimination of pagination in search results.
In this article we will go into detail on how continuous scrolling works and what possible effects it may have on SEO.
What is Google continuous scrolling.
When a user performs a search on Google using mobile navigation, the search engine now presents the equivalent of 4 pages of results in "continuous scroll". It is no longer necessary click to the second page of search results to continue viewing results. The concept of pagination disappears completely.
Once the user reaches the bottom of the first rendering, which includes about 40 results, a "see more" button appears that renders another ten results (more or less, according to John Mueller), or the equivalent of one of the old pages.
Differences between continuous scrolling and infinite scrolling.
Google does not consider this new functionality as infinite scroll because, at first, only the equivalent of four pages of results are displayed. Then the user must interact and click on "see more" to see more results.
This decision was explained by Danny Sullinvan, a Google engineer, on his Twitter account:
“Most people who want additional information tend to browse up to four pages of search results. With this update, people can now seamlessly do this, browsing through many different results, before needing to click the "See more" button”. (Original tweet)
How continuous scrolling affects SEO.
So far, the jump from the first page of search results to the second page had a significant impact. To move to the second page results, a click-through action was required.
Today, continuous scroll eliminates barriers and clicks, so it is expected to increase traffic, in mobile version, on those URLs that were between the second and fourth page of search results. Before this change, page 2 results produced an average click-through rate of less than 1%. With continuous scrolling we’ll see an improvement on average click-through rate.
You can check the changes on your website behaviour by using Google Search Console. It will be valuable to measure how CTRs and other engagement metrics change for your mobile audience.
In technical terms, John Mueller, Google engineer, clarifies that this change will not imply modifications at Google Search Console level:
"Nothing changes for Search Console - position is position. We don't track pages there". (Original tweet)
Impact to Google Ads
This change on how perform Google on mobile does not affect how the ad auction works, or the way Ad Rank is calculated. In the Q&A you can find a detailed explanation:
“As part of this change to how search results show, we’re redistributing the number of text ads that can show between the top and bottom of pages for US-English mobile queries.
Now, text ads can show at the top of the second page and beyond, while fewer text ads will show at the bottom of each page. There is no change to how Shopping and Local ads show.” (Google Q&A).
The new continous scrolling functionality that Google has incorporated in the mobile version of its search results will involve some changes that may affect website traffic:
- It will improve the SEO traffic received by URLs currently located between second and fourth page of search results due to the elimination of the click-through that pagination entailed.
- In ads, the blocks located in the bottom section will continue to render as you scroll without expected modifications.
In essence, this is a change that streamlines searches for users by eliminating navigation levels.