Impact of Google Removing Infinite Scrolling

by Reilly Phelps   |   Jun 27, 2024   |   Clock Icon 6 min read
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In March 2021, Google launched the infinite scroll feature on mobile devices and then fully launched it on desktop devices in December 2022. Only a few years later, Google has announced that they are removing the continuous scroll feature from desktop.

What does this mean for your rankings and data? This blog post will dive into the continuous scroll feature, what happened, and what the effects may be for your PPC and SEO efforts.

What is Continuous Scroll?

Before we get into the impact of discontinuing infinite scroll, it’s important to understand what it is.

Prior to the continuous scroll introduction, search results were grouped into pages, which meant companies could easily visualize rankings based on what page they fell on. For example, one common reporting metric for Workshop Digital is page 1 rankings; i.e., how many pages are appearing on the first search engine results page. The scrolling feature did not affect position rankings, however, so you could still organize your data by what position your page was ranking for.

With infinite scrolling, technically everything is on one page. Users didn’t have to click on page 2, they were able to just continue scrolling on the page to find the result they were looking for. Here is a visual of what Google’s continuous scroll looks like for the term “healthcare services”:

Healthcare SERP Scroll


Now that Google will be reverting to paginated search results, the bottom of each search results page will have page numbers that you can click on to get to the next page:

Paginated Results in Google

Why Are They Discontinuing Infinite Scrolling?

Google announced on June 26, 2024, that they will start to turn off the continuous scroll feature for desktop search results.

According to Search Engine Land, Google said this change allows the search engine to serve the search results faster on more searches, instead of automatically loading results that users haven’t explicitly requested. They also noted that loading more results automatically did not increase user satisfaction with Google Search.

How Does This Affect Digital Marketing Reporting?

SEO/Organic Search

Although the announcement is fresh, paginated search results are not new, so we already have experience with it and know how to report on it. For example, we utilize Google Search Console metrics, which allow users to see the average position for each query that a page is appearing for. The change back to continuous scrolling does not affect position rankings, so the update won’t cause any changes to your website’s rankings. Additionally, looking at data so far, AI Overviews seem to only appear on page 1, rather than each search results page.

As for the impact of the change, we suspect you may see a decrease in clicks and traffic for any keywords with a position above (or really, below) the 10th spot on search engine results pages, since users may not click to the second page or beyond of search results.

Let’s say your page ranked around the 10th or 11th position on search results pages. Once Google switched to continuous scrolling, the 10th or 11th spots were very similar position-wise since users did not have to click to the second page of search results anymore to see the 11th result. Now that we are back to the paginated model, the first page will show around 10 search results (which may vary depending on search features), and results lower than that will be on other pages that users have to click to. If your page was in the 11th position, it just lost quite a bit of visibility now that it is on the second search engine results page (SERP).

Paid Media

While it may seem like most ads appear at the top of search results, there are actually various placements throughout the results. When Google switched to continuous scrolling, they introduced “mid-scroll” ad placements further down the page. With the return to paginated results, ads are once again appearing above and below the organic search results. In some queries, ads even appear above the AI overviews.

SERP Scroll


Another aspect to monitor, specifically for paid ads, is the cost of these ad placements on page one. With the shift toward smart bidding over the last few years, the impact on the cost of page-one ad placements might be minimal. However, it is interesting that in 2024, cost-per-clicks (CPCs) have been reported to decrease YoY for the first time in the last five years.

Google CPC Chart

Source

It's also essential to monitor your click volume. Are you noticing a decrease in clicks on your Paid Search campaigns due to this change? We hypothesize that, similar to Organic search, there may be an impact on clicks and traffic from paid ads if you're not bidding aggressively enough to secure a page-one placement. Potential audiences may drop off if they don't find the result they're looking for on the first page.

Need Help With Digital Marketing Reporting? We Can Help!

Regardless of the search engine results page layout, it is important to make sure you are consistently optimizing your website to adjust to the changes.

John Mueller of Google stated on LinkedIn, “Any website/service/product needs to be optimizing regularly. The world keeps moving, the world seems to move even faster online, if you don’t keep optimizing, keep rethinking … the assumption you took last month might turn out to have been incorrect. Balance short-term & long-term metrics. Rethink metrics. Always be optimizing."

Not sure how to interpret your keyword metrics after the infinite scroll removal? Or does your site need optimization for the constantly changing search engine results page landscape? Contact us today for help with your digital marketing strategies.

Portrait of Reilly Phelps

Reilly Phelps

Reilly joined Workshop Digital in January 2022 after working in marketing for a few companies, ranging from childcare to recruiting. She graduated from James Madison University in June of 2022 with a degree in Marketing concentrating in Digital Marketing, and a minor in Communication Studies. The various organizations at JMU sparked her love of digital marketing, specifically in the organic field.

From small businesses to international corporations, Reilly has had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients across multiple industries. She enjoys putting together strategies and analyzing performance to find the right steps forward. When she isn't working, you can find her spending time with her corgi Maisie, listening to Taylor Swift, or reading.