The Impact of Google’s Continuous Scroll on SEO and PPC

Last week, Google announced the official arrival of continuous scroll on desktop search results.

Essentially, users can scroll through up to six pages of search results on desktop without needing to click the “More results” button. This functionality first debuted on mobile search about a year ago, although Google has been testing it on desktop for some time.

Of course, this comes with both opportunities and challenges for businesses involved in any sort of SEO or PPC initiatives. Given this is a huge change to how people will experience search going forward, consider this essential reading as you plan your strategies for the new year.

The Impact of Continuous Scroll on SEO

I’m guessing one of your first reactions here is the obliteration of what we have always known as Page 1, the holy grail of organic search results. With search results expanding, Page 1 is no longer exclusive of the first 9 or 10 results but includes up to 60 options for people to click on. The days of Page 1 prestige are behind us.

Though we still have something to look forward to with continuous scrolling. For instance, this is welcome news for those who haven’t cracked the upper echelon of organic search. It’s an opportunity to increase visibility for those website pages or video assets that are up against competitive search queries and domains that have been around for a long time.

In terms of reporting via Search Console or Google Analytics, which both already rank search results in terms of position (not page), your position ranking remains the same as before. If you have pages in positions 11 through 20, you may see a rise in impressions with the advent of continuous scroll. Clickthrough rate (CTR) may fall as well since users will have easier access to results beyond the first 10 results.

It may be difficult to determine if impressions and CTR are impacted by Google’s continuous scroll, but we recommend prioritizing data insights going forward to adjust where necessary.

…And Now for PPC

Of course, SEO isn’t the only facet of desktop search that will see an impact from the new scrolling functionality. Your search ads performance may be affected, too.

While previously search ads could be displayed at the top and bottom of results pages, with continuous scrolling the ads will be shown more at the beginning of the scroll with fewer toward the end.

Similar to how Google answered this change for mobile, we expect the same for desktop: “Search campaigns may see more impressions from top ads and fewer impressions from bottom ads.” To track your performance in terms of top to bottom, you can consider segmenting your data by “Top vs. other.”

As we always recommend with PPC advertising, but especially with Google’s change to continuous scrolling in desktop search, it will be critical to review your advertising goals and optimize your campaign performance on a continual basis.

What to Do Right Now

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to set up your accounts in Google Analytics, Search Console, and Looker Studio (formerly Data Studio). These can all help you monitor your SEO performance and track changes. See the best SEO tools if you want a breakdown of each.

For search ad campaigns, you can keep an eye on metrics within Google Ads. If you want to see how you’re doing, you can compare your data to this article on Google ads performance.

Reach out with any questions you might have regarding how RSO can help you with your digital marketing.

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