In December 2022 Google introduced continuous scrolling to desktop search results. This update mirrors the experience Google put in place on mobile devices in October 2021. We were curious to see what impact this is having on organic traffic particularly for deeper pages.
On mobile, infinite scrolling allows users to scroll through results indefinitely, while on desktop, continuous scrolling allows users to scroll through around 60 search results before needing to hit “See more.” Historically, few users browsed past page 1 of search results, and even fewer clicked on results beyond page 2.
Like a lot of people in the SEO industry we’ve been curious to know how this continuous scrolling change would impact organic traffic.
Would it for instance increase the value of organic results on deeper pages, or would users still prefer to change their search query if nothing was found on the first few search results?
A recent article by Jason Tabeling in Search Engine Land has shed some light on the impact of this change to Desktop Search.
Analysis of pre and post continuous scroll data
An analysis of his data pre – and post-continuous scroll change found that the majority of traffic still comes from the top 3 positions, with over 50% of impressions and 88% of clicks going to those top 3 positions.
Desktop Search Impressions From Top 3 Positions
Desktop Search Clicks From Top 3 Positions
Impressions did increase for rankings 15-20 after the change, reflecting the updated user experience where users may not even realise they are scrolling past the top 10 results.
However, for clicks, it is even more important to be in the top 3, with only 4% of total clicks occurring after position 6.
In comparison, mobile users have a more scrolling user experience, with only 40% of impressions going to the top 3 positions. The next largest cohort was in the 7-10 positions with 35%. For clicks, 91% of clicks came from the top 3 positions, and only 3% came from anything greater than position 10.
The takeaway from Googles continuous desktop scroll change
It is still as relevant as ever to be in the top positions for your key search queries.
This data confirms that user behaviour is slightly altered by UX changes, but it is still as relevant as ever to rank in the top positions for key search queries.
SEO should not be treated as a one-time project but rather as an ongoing effort to maintain website health and readiness for changes in user experience and search engine algorithms.
Keep writing content and optimising technical elements to keep your website strong and healthy year-round, so that no matter what change in user experience happens your site will be ready for that change.