A computer displays shows Google search results with a banner overlayed with the text 2021-2024.
July 2, 2024

Google Ends Continuous Scroll: What It Means for Digital Marketers

If you Googled anything this week, you may have noticed a change. No, it’s not another new AI-powered feature or flashy new ad format. In fact, Google didn’t add anything to Search—it took something away. 

Last week, we saw the beginning of the end for Google continuous scroll, as the search giant began turning it off for desktop users, with plans to remove it on mobile in the coming months. It might seem like a small UX change but the impacts could be significant for brands and digital marketers.

Here’s a closer look at what continuous scroll was, why Google chose to end it, and what it means for digital marketers and organic search moving forward. 

What Was Google Continuous Scroll? 

A woman looks at her phone displaying Google search results.

Google’s continuous scrolling was the search engine’s way of capitalizing on the success of infinite scrolling found in social media apps. Instead of having to scroll to the bottom of a page and click “Next,” Google automatically surfaced these results, displaying more organic search results than traditional paginated SERPs. 

Many digital marketers welcomed this feature, as it eliminated some of the friction associated with viewing results 11 through 20 and so on. Instead, mobile users saw 40 results in a single “scroll,” while desktop searchers saw 60 results. As we detailed in a previous article about continuous scroll, this feature showed potentially positive results, especially for sites ranked outside the top 10. 

However, it appears Google changed its mind on the feature.

Soon, we’ll be back to the “good old days” of Google Search, with 10 organic search results and a wide range of other Search features displayed on each page. You might even feel nostalgic viewing the “Goooooooooogle” pagination feature at the bottom.

However, a lot has changed since we last saw paginated search results, namely the introduction of Google AI overviews. This has led many marketers to wonder exactly why Google chose now of all times to turn off continuous scroll.

Why Did Google End Continuous Scroll?

So, why is Google ending continuous scroll? According to a source who spoke to Search Engine Land, the decision was made to serve search results faster. Rather than spending time and resources loading results searchers didn’t explicitly request, the focus is on the top organic search results and additional search features—the ones Google feels searchers really want to see. 

At face value, this seems reasonable, but with the introduction of AI overviews, it’s hard not to assume this is an effort to push users toward the top of the page, where AI overviews and ads live. 

Many SEOs have gone full doom and gloom with this news, even going so far as to suggest Google is moving toward eliminating search results altogether. In their opinion, Google wants to keep users from ever clicking organic links, instead finding what they need in an AI overview or paid ad. While there may be some truth to this, these takes are a bit dramatic, to say the least. 

On the flip side, it’s worth asking: Was continuous search scrolling even an enjoyable experience for users? After all, user experience is, and should be, the top priority for every site, Google.com included.

Infinite scrolling works on social media where users aimlessly browse. In Search, we’re looking for something specific, purposefully browsing and clicking links to relevant sites. In this instance, infinite scrolling can be superfluous. The same goes for other informational and e-commerce sites, too. 

The truth is, nobody truly knows Google’s intentions, and like it or not, paginated results are back. The good news is that we’ve been here before, and this is the playing field upon which the most sustainable organic search strategies were built. It’s time to double down on those efforts and focus on improving rankings, which you should have been doing the whole time anyway.

Bon voyage, continuous scroll—it was nice knowing you. 

How Will This Affect Your Organic Search Strategy?

A group of digital marketers stand confidently before a web window displaying Google search results with various iconography depicting web design and digital marketing.

So, what does this all mean for your website and organic search campaign? 

One could assume those in positions 11 through 20 stand to see the biggest impacts, as they went from being in the top half of the first “scroll” to page 2 again. This will likely lead to reduced visibility and lower clicks.

This only reaffirms that SEO isn’t dead, and there’s never been a better time to invest in organic search marketing. In fact, this latest Google change places more emphasis on being in the top 10 for valuable search terms since anything lower will be relegated back to page 2 and beyond. 

For those saying this change isn’t fair, it’s important to remember that Google doesn’t exist to serve digital marketers—its primary goal is to serve the most helpful content based on a user’s query and search intent. Key takeaways from the recent Google algorithm leak only support this mission. 

If your site falls into this helpful category, great, but keep in mind that features like rich snippets and AI overviews can also help users. Our job as digital marketers is to show Google a landing page or site is worth ranking highly because it provides real, tangible value to searchers. That has always been the mission, and removing continuous scrolling doesn’t change it one bit.

Stay a Step Ahead of Every Google Update with VELOX

Google changes its algorithm and search features almost weekly, and keeping up with every update is challenging for site owners. Partner with VELOX, a Google Premier Partner, and you can stay a step ahead while your competitors scramble to pivot. Our team of organic search experts has decades of combined experience helping enterprises rank in the top 10 for keywords that drive meaningful revenue. 

Contact VELOX today to learn more about our organic search strategies and how we can help your brand grow. 

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