Google introduced a new update in October 2021: continuous scrolling on mobile devices.
The update is supported on iOS and Android. It sounds like a very simple update, but its impact on search engine optimization (SEO) has since created a stir within the SEO community.
This update would allow users to scroll through search results continuously without tapping “see more” at the bottom of the Google mobile search results. Instead, what used to be the next results pages would automatically load on your screen, similar to social media feeds. It’s a truly convenient feature when browsing on a scrolling phone.
What Is Infinite Scroll?
Infinite scroll is a technique in web design where the content in an app or site continuously loads as users scroll through the page downward. It was invented by Aza Raskin and was first implemented on April 28, 2006, on the Humanized Reader app and Raskin’s blog.
This design structure eliminates the need for pagination, or the process of separating digital content into different sequential pages. This type of content and search results design is popular on social media, particularly Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
This Google search results change allows users to continuously view and consume content, and it’s no surprise that continuous scroll is dubbed as the most addictive feature of mobile phones today. It’s also one of the big reasons why social media is quite successful. Infinite scroll, however, does more than make Google search results look different.
Why Has Google Brought Continuous Scroll to Mobile?
Google explained that the goal of introducing the continuous scroll interface is to improve user experience (UX). It benefits those looking for more information and inspiration, not just quick info. This update, however, is not for everyone. It caters to a different and more specific audience, i.e., those who have more user intent and are more likely to view the information from websites.
According to Thrive’s Lead SEO Strategist, Ronnel Viloria, this Google mobile search results update benefits websites outside the first page. He comments further:
“According to a 2020 study, the click-through rate outside the first page of Google search results is less than 1 percent. That is because users/visitors rarely click on a result that isn’t on the first page, and this update will be a huge boost for their websites.”
Benefits of the Update:
• It improves the click-through rates (CTR) of sites that land on pages two to four of search engine results pages (SERPs)
• Creates more traffic opportunities for pages not on page one
• It keeps users on the Google mobile app longer (increased engagement)
• Allows Google to display more ads
How Does It Improve UX?
Seeing that “click for more” button at the bottom of your scrolling phone is definitely out of place in this era of mobile devices. This search experience is an outdated design hailing from the desktop era of web searching and has been around for more than two decades.
With this update in search results design, users can conveniently scroll up and down as they search for more information as they need to. However, this Google search results change has its pros and cons.
Pros and Cons
Including web scrolling isn’t a flawless approach to content design; it has benefits and drawbacks, too. Here are some of the pros and cons of mobile scrolling.
1. It keeps users engaged.
This is the main benefit of the continuous scroll feature. The Google mobile search results now have the capability to keep users engaged more than ever before. When people scroll through mobile SERPs, they stay glued to their screens, as their questions get answered and are provided with more relevant information.
Not only will Google search results look different, but they also behave differently. This is because Google’s AI provides users with more related information depending on what answers they tap on the organic search results.
2. It’s ideal for many users.
According to GlobalStats, around 54.37 percent of online traffic in the world is currently mobile. On the other hand, 43.15 percent of online traffic is from desktop computers and tablets have a 2.48 percent share of that global traffic.
With continuous scrolling, users don’t need to be burdened with managing multiple tabs. Instead, it’s been shown to work best for mobile users where you only need to scroll down to generate more content.
3. Users get a seamless user experience.
Related to the elevated engagement we mentioned above, the ability to find useful information quickly with mobile scrolling makes for a smooth and uninterrupted experience. With Google’s improving algorithm, you can even get insights that you may not have considered when you started searching for information. Moreover, your sources won’t be limited to the sites listed on page one of the SERPs.
1. Lag and longer loading times.
One of the potential downsides of continuous scrolling is longer loading times. If your internet connection is slow, you may see some lag as Google search results change or when new results are loaded. To overcome this drawback, site owners should consult a technical SEO specialist to help optimize their site’s loading speed.
Remember that this update is still being rolled out initially in the U.S. As this update is rolled out to the rest of the world, Google must find a solution for potential slow loading times of mobile SERPs. It may be an issue for some users located in South America and Asia where the internet is comparatively slow.
2. Clutter and accessibility challenges.
Some users have complained about organic search results on Google becoming more disorganized. Having too much information displayed on a scrolling phone is an inconvenience, and cluttered info reduces accessibility. For example, you can now find anything from product suggestions, sponsored content, videos, search snippets, news stories, info boxes and not to mention ads in your results.
The Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BIA), however, has pointed out that continuous scrolling is challenging for people with disabilities as it may make it difficult to navigate through mobile scrolling content.
The BIA emphasized that mobility, audio and visual impediments shouldn’t prevent users from using digital resources. This means Google must ensure that this update complies with the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
SEO Community’s Reaction
“This update is still new, and I know a lot in the community are still figuring out what other features were included in this update and its effect in the SERPs,” Ronnel Viloria said. The good news is even in this early stage; there are certain search engine marketing strategies you can employ to take advantage of Google’s continuous scroll feature.
How To Take Advantage of This Update
Viloria gives a few essential tips to get better organic search results. The following are some of the things you need to focus on to take advantage of this new update.
1. Use Persuasive Elements in Your Design
Any top SEO audit agency will recommend that you make your titles and descriptions count – make them attractive. In addition, the continuous scrolling feature makes navigating of the SERPs a lot easier for the end-user. This means people searching for info will have more options.
Optimized web content, particularly the title and description, is a potential game-changer. It’s the first thing people will see on the SERPs. Well-written titles and meta descriptions can persuade people to click on your link when users see them.
For videos, you need to craft better titles and use more relevant and catchy thumbnails. Both the title and thumbnails should compel the viewer to click on your video as they appear on the SERPs. Viloria adds that content creators should ensure that videos are optimized. He also suggests using embedded video to speed up loading times. You may want to hire a technical SEO specialist to optimize these elements.
2. Ensure Quality Content
Your title and description are the bait to get people to click your link. The quality of your content ensures that they stay when they open your site. With continuous scrolling, your content will make or break your SEO efforts. When your content satisfies user intent, it will drive more traffic to your site, so you may want to consider partnering with an experienced but affordable SEO company to get better results.
3. Optimize Your Site and Web Properties for Mobile Web Design
Google has been placing a significant emphasis on mobile web design for a while. With this update, they’re doing that again. This means you must ensure that your site provides a great mobile user experience and take advantage of technical SEO services to improve your site’s mobile-friendly design.
Continuous scrolling doesn’t mean that you’re on the first page of the SERPs that you’re vetted to get more clicks. In fact, you may end up with a higher bounce rate (or the percentage of users leaving your site after visiting just one page) if your site isn’t mobile optimized.
Why It Makes Sense To Work With an SEO Consulting Company
Continuous scrolling will not be the last “visually disrupting” update that Google will implement. Everyone should expect more changes that will impact mobile SERPs or Google search results in the future.
The best way to keep abreast of the ever-changing search results design trends is to work with an experienced SEO consulting company. In addition, smaller businesses can work with an affordable SEO company in case of budget constraints.
Thrive is an SEO audit agency with more than 16 years of experience. We provide technical SEO services to companies of all sizes. We have helped hundreds of clients adapt their digital marketing strategies with every Google update that has come along. We help your business improve search engine marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) to keep you ahead of the competition.
Call 843-353-6383 today or fill out this form to get a free quote.