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How Will Google’s Continuous Scroll Impact SEO?

Can you remember the last time you ventured onto page 2 of your search results? Admit it, there could be an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza in there, and you would never see it.

Why? Because most users rarely click past the first page of results when searching, and even when they do, only 63% of Google searchers click on something from the second page. So, if you want users’ attention – and more importantly, their business – you need to be on that first page, right?

Not necessarily. Following on from continuous scroll for mobile in October 2021, Google has recently announced their rollout’s continuation to desktop search results – meaning that the fight to be on the first page may not be as vital as it used to be.

What is a continuous scroll?

A continuous scroll is when content automatically loads after a user searches and reaches the ‘end’ of a webpage. You don’t need a click to see any more content, as information will continue to generate the more you scroll.

It is also known as ‘lazy loading’ or an ‘infinite scroll’, although this is slightly misleading as the scroll only lasts for as long as it has content to show. Google currently shows 6 total ‘pages’ of content in a ‘continuous scroll.’

You might find this way of searching familiar, as it has a similar interface to quite a few mobile apps and social media platforms. YouTube for example, loads the next video as soon as the previous one has finished. Netflix has the same premise for episodes, encouraging the epidemic of binge-watching. And platforms such as Facebook and Instagram offer endless scrolling, giving a way to view content without ever having to click to reach the next thing.

A webpage or continuous scroll?

Traditionally, search results have come in the form of web pages. Page after page of search results under URL subheadings is familiar and comfortable. But as SEO (search engine optimisation) habits change, so too should the format of search results.

Websites are extended ‘below the fold’, a term referring to content that can only be seen when the user scrolls down. This terminology dates back to print journalism, where newspapers were so large, they had to be folded. The content ‘above the fold’ needed to be more eye-catching to grab a reader’s attention.

That’s why web designers focus on content above the fold, as the site relies on this content to increase its internet traffic. Anything below can be missed or ignored. It might not matter much for some sites, but if you rely on your call to action (CTA) to increase business, then it could become a big deal.

Continuous scrolling will bypass this problem, as the aim of the game will be to keep scrolling anyway. Continuity will make more sense to users, as they search for information that thankfully won’t be cut off or out of sight.

How will continuous scroll affect SEO?

1. Less focus on page 1 results

As the results on pages 2-6 become more accessible through scrolling, the CTR (click-through rate) for page 1 results will drop. The emphasis for websites will change, as being on page 1 won’t matter as much for attracting internet traffic.

2. More results will be viewed

Scrolling makes it more convenient for users to find more options and they will see more results than the top 10 or top 3. This will give your website a much better chance of increased traffic.

3. The need for more emphasis on your USP (unique selling point)

A more organic way of searching will lead users to notice more content than perhaps they did before. This will be a good chance to rejuvenate your marketing strategy around what makes your site stand out. Some ways to do this include:

4. Clear and unique meta data

Ensure your titles make sense to people as you are writing to match content to what they are searching for – don’t write for search engines.

5. Google images

1 in every 3 internet searches includes images, so be aware of the massive potential of increased traffic using Google images.

6. Introduce Schema

This is a form of microdata that creates enhanced descriptions to make your content stand out.

7. Ads and features

When scrolling, ads are much easier to insert in a subtle way as they can be autoloaded among the search results, making them harder to avoid. Features will also be more noticeable as they can be placed more creatively.

8. More rich results

Social media platforms include lots of videos and images on their feeds. Continuous scrolling gives this same feature to Google. ‘Rich results’ includes shopping, videos, featured stories, commonly asked questions and lots more. This familiarity to users will make them feel more confident when scrolling and make it easier to increase the number of quality results that can pop up on a search.

9. Increased zero-click searches

Rich results and meta descriptions can give a user all the information they need for their search. So why would they need to click and go onto the website fully? Through scrolling, users can find the answer they’re looking for before clicking is needed at all.

10. Changes in result clusters from one website

Increasing the number of results that users are seeing is always going to affect what they decide to do next. Results that would normally be shown a few places apart could be combined on a continuous scrolling feed. These types of combined result clusters could decrease once continuous scrolling becomes more familiar. But in the meantime, it could increase, which can create a mixed response to the quality of the search results. For example, 2 articles ranked far apart (5th and 40th) are now combined.

Written by Rob Truslove | Wrise

Rob is the founder of Wrise – an SEO and content writing agency based in Manchester, UK. Wrise creates content that people and search engines love, helping small businesses attract more organic traffic and increase conversions.

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