C’mon you know you’ve done it.
I’ve done it. On more than one occasion.
When nothing catches my fancy while skimming a mobile website, I take my thumb and flick it as fast as I can causing the screen to fly by.
I might even do it several times to see how long it takes to get to the bottom of one of those infinite scroll pages before it catches up. I just sit there waiting for it to load like the old days of the 2000s.
Maybe it’s my mindset at the time. More likely, it’s the lack of great content. But, there is data that says this behavior is inevitable to some degree. The more information on the page, the less likely people will engage with any one specific piece of content.
Google Launching Features to Avoid Infinite Scroll
Understanding that this behavior is common among their users, Google recently launched two new elements on their mobile search pages: the “More Results” and “Next” buttons.
Some portion of it has to do with the old joke, “Where do you hide a dead body on Google?” The answer? Page two. A recent blog post from Rank Ranger points out there is a stigma for searchers about results on page two.
So why didn’t the search giant go to infinite scroll for SERPs instead?
Because they are aware of the negative consequences of this skimming pattern as well as the good.
User interaction with content doesn't get stronger with infinite scroll. And, users aren’t more likely to take any one singular conversion action. Amazon doesn't use infinite scroll either because they know it makes it easier for you to spend less time viewing each item.
In his Rank Ranger post, Mordy Oberstein explains how we interact with infinite scroll technology impacts digital advertising and SEO. In it, he references a two-year-old study by Christian Holst published in Smashing Magazine. Holst’s findings? Performance of infinite scroll technology depends on the context of the page it’s being used on, but in general, pagination/”Load More” buttons proved to be superior from a usability standpoint.
So what are the implications for your website? Here's one for digital advertising and one for SEO.
For advertising, it’s simple. If you are sending your advertising clicks to an infinite scroll page, just stop.
This is doubly important if the page you're sending ads to is your homepage and your homepage doesn’t have a clear message match with your ads.
General content is more likely to be skimmed because the reader is given more to look at rather than a specific action to take. The promise of infinite content leads to more skimming. Don’t pay people to skim your landing pages.
When users skim, they are highly unlikely to take any additional actions. Money paid for that click will be wasted. Your landing page relevance and quality could take a hit as well weakening your Google Quality Score. In turn this makes future clicks even more expensive.
For years, CRO has told us that more is less. Now we have even more data to show that there are actually less interactions with your desired conversion actions likely happening on overloaded or infinite scroll pages.
There’s general concern over which method, infinite scroll or pagination, leads to better content index-ability and user engagement. It was previously thought that content found after a “Load More” or “Next” button was ignored by Google. But you can stop worrying about that.
“Next” and “Load More” buttons are typically written using Ajax. For several years an html snapshot of Ajax content was needed before Google could crawl and read the content.
Now, Google can render the whole page, Ajax and all. This means the content that appears when a visitor clicks the "Next" or "Load More" button has already been read by Google before any action is taken by your visitor.
This is great because now Ajax buttons don’t diminish your SEO. Google stated in December 2017 that they will move away from the old Ajax crawling method mentioned above this quarter.
From a usability standpoint, “Load More” and “Next” buttons make sense.
Loading brand new pages has always had drawbacks. Users get impatient due to load times or are reluctant to go to a new page (especially page 2) of Google.
And while Infinite scroll was a hit because it had technical and marketing benefits for websites, it had unintended consequences that undercut the value of the innovation.
“Load More” and “Next” buttons address these issues. They ensure usability and index-ability from an SEO standpoint. They focus attention on singular pieces of content (rather than showing never-ending content via infinite scroll). And they help focus attention on specific conversion actions versus dividing focus, helping you achieve better results for your PPC campaigns.
Dave has spent years covering all the acronyms in digital Marketing; SEM, SEO,PPC, CRO from an in house analyst to growing and running an internal agency team of 40.
What Dave likes about digital marketing is that you have to know what all the buttons are for and how to pull all the levers big and small, new and old.