June 26, 2024

Google Ends Continuous Scroll SERPS: What It Really Means

Google Ends Continuous Scroll SERPS: What It Really Means

Google recently announced the discontinuation of continuous scrolling in search results, citing the need to speed up the delivery of search results. However, this explanation has raised eyebrows in the search marketing community, prompting questions about the real reasons behind this decision. Let’s delve into what’s happening.

The Concept of Continuous Scroll

Continuous scroll, popularized by social media, allows users to endlessly navigate through content. Introduced by Google in 2021 for mobile search results, this feature displayed up to four pages of web results before users needed to click to see more. This change was initially welcomed by site owners and search marketers as it potentially increased exposure for more sites.

The End of Continuous Scroll

The Verge reported that Google is phasing out continuous scroll, starting with desktop search results, followed by mobile. Instead, the classic pagination bar will return on desktops, and a “More results” button will appear on mobile.

The Official Reason

Google claims that the removal of continuous scrolling aims to speed up search results. However, many in the search marketing community are skeptical. The U.S. Department of Justice has previously revealed emails suggesting Google’s top management discussed ways to increase ad visibility in search results.

Google Ends Continuous Scroll SERPS: What It Really Means

Community Reactions and Skepticism

Brett Tabke, founder of Pubcon and coiner of the acronym SERPs, expressed his doubts:

“It effectively boxes more clicks on to page one. That will result in a higher percentage of clicks going to Ads and Google properties. I think it is more evidence that Google is on a path to a new version of a portal and away from search. Organic search itself will move to page 2, and I believe eventually to a new domain. They will move away from organic results on page one.”

Many in the search marketing community share similar sentiments. On X (formerly Twitter), users expressed their concerns. One user tweeted:
“I wouldn’t be shocked if it was hurting bottom-of-the-page / top of page 2+ ad clicks.”
Another tweet highlighted a common perception:
“Why not just show one page with Google AI, Reddit, and the usual culprits? Who clicks on page 2 anyway?”

An anonymous account, “Google Honesty,” tweeted:
“Continuous scroll allows everyone to be on page one. We prefer to crush your spirit. It’s far more humiliating to be on page 6. Pagination in search allows this ✅.”

Contrasting Views

Not everyone sees Google’s decision as nefarious. Kevin Indig tweeted:
“Paginated SERPs are back! I’ve found continuous scroll to be a subpar solution for websites as well.”
While continuous scrolling is beneficial for social media, where aimless browsing is common, it is less suited for purposeful navigation found in search results, ecommerce sites, and informational sites. Infinite scroll may provide a poor user experience in these contexts.

Conclusion: What's Really Going On?

Google’s decision to end continuous scrolling is met with mixed reactions. While some believe it’s a move to prioritize ads and Google properties, others acknowledge that continuous scrolling may not be ideal for all types of content.

Ultimately, the chosen explanation from Google—that the change aims to speed up search results—has not been widely accepted. Instead, it seems there are deeper implications and motivations that warrant further scrutiny.