Google’s latest update to mobile search could have a big impact on digital publishers. Here’s what you should know.
If you’re not closely monitoring Google’s latest search updates, you may have missed last week’s announcement. Continuous scrolling is coming to Google Search on mobile, which means publishers that rely on search traffic could be in for a huge boost.
Continuous scrolling is when search results automatically populate as a user scrolls to the bottom of a page. It’s become a common feature on blogs and other digital media sites, allowing readers to access more content without having to click from page to page.
Adding continuous scrolling to Google Search on mobile means users will be able to find the sites they’re looking for more quickly and easily from their smartphones and tablets.
This is just the latest in a series of updates Google is making to mobile search, after launching a redesign of the Search results page on mobile earlier this year. The introduction of continuous scrolling is part of a broader goal within Google to make Search results pages on mobile more modern and easier to navigate.
Prior to this recent update, search results pages on mobile looked nearly identical to the 10 blue links format that Google has held onto for years on desktop search. The primary difference had to do with a “see more” button that Google placed at the bottom of its mobile search page, rather than the paginated list that displays at the bottom of results pages on desktop. The “see more” button isn’t gone for good, though, even with the addition of continuous scrolling on mobile. According to Google, the “see more” button will still appear — it just won’t show up until much further down the page. Users will be able to scroll through more results now before triggering the “see more” button.
For publishers who’ve fought hard to appear on page one of Google search results, last week’s announcement is a game changer. Websites that appear on the first page of search results capture between 71% and 92% of all search traffic clicks. Links on the second page of results come in at below 6%. Survey after survey show that consumers are unlikely to click past the first page of search results, and when they do click onto subsequent pages, they’re still less likely to click on those search results and visit the linked site.
By adding continuous scrolling to Search on mobile, Google is opening the door to feature many more publishers on the first page of results.
Borrowing from TikTok
Google’s decision to add continuous scrolling to Search on mobile is a nod to the success publishers are seeing on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Continuous scroll has worked well on social media, leading to incredible boosts in engagement and views.
TikTok has been lauded for its use of endless scrolling. The design has led to users spending hours upon hours browsing content on the TikTok mobile app. Will a similar user experience lead to the same results on Google mobile search? Time will tell, but early indications point to yes.
Continuous Scrolling Update: What to Expect
Digital publishers shouldn’t expect to see traffic volumes go up overnight. Websites that are currently ranking on the second or third page of search results for high value keywords will likely see their traffic increase slowly and steadily as a result of this update.
It’s unclear how Google’s update will impact publishers that were already ranking on the first page of Google search results prior to the change. However, any increase in the time users spend on Google Search on mobile is good news overall for publishers.
As a best practice, publishers should be sure to pay close attention to their Search Console reports and watch for any changes to impressions or clicks from mobile devices.
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