Google’s infinite scroll results – the potential effects on digital marketing
Over the past few days Google has publicly tested their ‘infinite scrolling’ functionality in search results. This means that the results, for any given search term, will appear in a continuous list rather than the traditional 10 results per page, with multiple pages format.
So why are they trying it again?
As with all of Google’s updates, improving user experience is the prominent and driving force behind their decisions. As a user, the benefits of an infinite list would include the elimination of having to click on new pages, as well as not having to click back and forth to digest the main results or to find something in particular. In a nutshell, more results can be delivered at a greater speed – everyone’s a winner.
This, however, is taking a marketing perspective out of the equation. As a marketer this potential update to Google’s results list means a whole array of changes for the way we do things, as well as for the businesses we work with.
Historically, results ‘pages’ have been a key aspect in reporting for digital marketers. As an important KPI, clients can see how well their website is performing for certain keyphrases according to their presence on different pages. In the event of an infinite list, this of course would change to be a number in a very long list. No more striving to reach the prestigious page 1.
With this comes a whole new way of thinking – both in the world of SEO and PPC. One of the main effects that this change could lead to is the display of less ads due to the absence of pagination. Less ads means more competition and higher cost-per-click rates. Clients will need bigger budgets and we might just see a case of survival of the fittest.
If the change is rolled out, it will also be essential to review the behaviour of users on Google and how they interact with the modified search results. There’s a lot of existing research into click-through rates on Google’s SERPs and in Marketing Land’s 2014 study it was discovered that ‘71.33% of searches resulted in a page one organic click’, whereas page ‘two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks’. What’s more, ‘the first five results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%’.
These stats will become redundant if the infinite scroll comes into play, and we’ll need to define new trends to aspire to.
With increased access to all results, will people be more inclined to click on results much further down the list now? Subsequently, will websites with lower rank see improved conversions? And on the flip side, will those websites showing at the top of the page be forgotten by the time users have scrolled numerous results down?
These are questions and assumptions that we can only wait to see play-out. In the meantime we recommend that all marketers consider the potential outcomes and rethink the way we work with SERPs.
Let us know what you think about the possibility of infinite scroll results by leaving a comment or tweeting us @3WhiteHats.