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Google Infinite Scroll - What Does the Sunset Mean?

Google Infinite Scroll - What Does the Sunset Mean?

Google has announced the end of continuous scrolling in search results, a move that is raising eyebrows in the search marketing community. This shift aims to speed up the serving of search results, but the given explanation leaves many with more questions than answers. What’s really going on here?

Infinite Scroll in Search Results

Continuous scroll, popularized by social media platforms, enables users to navigate content endlessly without explicitly clicking to load more. In 2021, Google implemented continuous scrolling for mobile search results, extending it to desktop search in December 2022. This feature allowed up to four pages of web results to appear automatically before users had to click to see more. Site owners and marketers welcomed this change, as it increased the visibility of more sites.

No More Continuous Scroll

Recently, The Verge reported that Google will remove continuous scrolling to serve search results faster. Initially, this change will affect desktop search results, followed by mobile search results. According to The Verge:

“In its place on desktop will be Google’s classic pagination bar, allowing users to jump to a specific page of search results or simply click “Next” to see the next page. On mobile, a “More results” button will be shown at the bottom of a search to load the next page.”

What’s the Real Impact?

Google claims the change aims to expedite search result delivery. However, skepticism abounds within the search marketing community. Historical emails from the U.S. Department of Justice reveal discussions among Google executives about increasing advertising in search results. Brett Tabke, founder of the Pubcon search marketing conference, commented:

“It effectively boxes more clicks on to page one. That will result in more clicks going to Ads and Google properties. I think it is more evidence that Google is on a path to a new version of 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. So what is left?

  1. Google Ads

  2. Google property links

  3. Google Overviews vomit and

  4. a link to page two.

They are on a path to fulfilling all general ‘searches’ with their own responses in some form or another. When they don’t have a perfect response, maybe they will do ‘people also ask’ and those lead back to a SERP where they can fulfill the search with their own properties and responses.”

Community Reactions

Many share this skepticism. On social media, users speculate about the real motivations behind Google's decision. One tweet suggests, "I wouldn’t be shocked if it was hurting bottom-of-the-page / top of page 2+ ad clicks," while another comments, "Why not just show one page with Google AI, Reddit, and the usual culprits? Who clicks on page 2 anyway?"

An account named "Google Honesty" tweeted cynically:

“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.”

A Different Perspective

However, not everyone views the change negatively. Kevin Indig, a notable figure in the SEO community, pointed out a downside of continuous scrolling:

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

Continuous scrolling, while effective for social media, often leads to a poor user experience on other types of websites, including search engines. For ecommerce or informational sites, purposeful navigation is critical, and infinite scroll can detract from that experience.

Google Infinite Scroll - Here We Go Again

While Google's stated reasons for ending continuous scrolling might not satisfy everyone, the move underscores the complexity of balancing user experience with business objectives. The debate over Google's motivations continues, reflecting broader concerns about the evolving nature of search and its impact on users and businesses alike.

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