Google’s mobile-first chronicles continue with their recent testing of infinite scrolling for mobile search results. Previously, mobile Google searches were divided up into pages, similar to their desktop site. Users would get to the bottom of the page, and have the option to click through the consecutive pages. As part of their test, this pagination has been replaced with a “More Results” button, which drops down additional search results beneath the existing ones.
While nothing is definite yet, and there’s no word of this infinite scrolling being implemented permanently, we can only assume it’s a supplement to their recent mobile-first indexing update. As Google aims to prioritize and accommodate their mobile users, they streamline their focus to improving the mobile experience of their website as much as possible. The numbers certainly don’t lie, so it’s hard to blame them. Internal data from Google in 2015 showed that more Google searches took place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan. Statista reported similar data more recently, stating that mobile devices accounted for 53 percent of search engine visits in 2017. These statistics alone provide a strong argument for Google’s mobile optimization strategies.
The Roots & Repercussions of Infinite Scrolling
Despite this new direction for Google, infinite scrolling is not a new concept to most of us. After all, social media platforms have been utilizing this format for ages. The Facebook timeline has been employing this feature for years now, with users being able to scroll through endless updates on their newsfeed. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and most social media sites have followed suit on this trend.
Having this feature on Google specifically could be an advantage for many low-ranking websites, however. Without pagination, lower listings could increase in value, since there wouldn’t be a concrete cutoff for less relevant results. You can put this theory to the test just by reflecting on personal experience. When was the last time you went to page two of the search results when you conducted a Google search? To be frank, not many people do, and often first-page results drive the most traffic (and business).
How It Benefits Google
Google has plenty to gain from a change to infinite scrolling. For one, it’s more user-friendly and drives higher engagement. When users need to click through something (like pages), this creates an automatic pause in their brain. Meanwhile, scrolling through an endless loop of content causes the user to remain on the website longer and absorb more information.
Additionally, this new feature adds potential for more advertising, which makes it more profitable for Google. Currently, Google primarily hosts paid ads at the top of the first SERP. However, with infinite scrolling, Google could disseminate paid ads throughout the search results and increase their value, since more people will be likely to pay attention to the lower ranking results. Naturally, this is mere speculation at this point in time, but a promising argument for Google to want to make this a permanent change.
Making the Most Out of Infinite Scrolling
Google’s infinite mobile scrolling may not be a sure thing yet, but in case it becomes one, there are a couple of things you may want to consider in order to protect/boost your ranking. There is a way to benefit from this, and it’s not too early to start trying.
#1) Check your meta descriptions. Never forget that relevance is key, and your meta descriptions are the spokesperson for your website’s relevance. A meta description is the piece of text that comes up under the link to your site on the SERP. Therefore, filling that description with pertinent keywords and key phrases that people are likely to search for in order to find your website is crucial.
#2) Shoot for higher pages. Ironically enough, the potential for pagination to become obsolete is even more reason to strive for a higher page ranking. Nobody knows if the infinite scrolling will soon come to desktop for Google, but if it does, you better believe that page two results will suddenly become more powerful. Even if your site currently lands on page nine of the search results, you may want to make considerable efforts to get it onto page three or four. Right now, those pages may not seem too impressive, but in time, they’ll be right in the line of vision with infinite scroll.
Lastly, remember that despite the benefits infinite scroll may have for search engines and social media sites, it is probably best not to employ this feature on your own blog or pages with listings (i.e. a directory or resource). Infinite scroll means that there will consistently be hidden content on your pages, which makes it difficult for the crawlers to locate and assess keywords for relevance, therefore harming your SEO efforts. It also leads to lack of a footer, which is not only frustrating for users, but yet another blemish on your website’s SEO.
That being said, it’s still possible that Google will conform its algorithms to accommodate the increasing popularity of infinite scrolling websites, but it’s also best to wait for this trend to gain traction before applying it to your business. While SEO experts suggest foregoing this particular update on your own website for the time being, it is time to boost your rankings in the event this Google update is here to stay.