Do you love the scroll wheel on your mouse and the down arrow key on your keyboard and like to exercise them as much as possible? I know I do! What I hate doing is finding the tiny arrow or “2” link at the bottom of a web page with my cursor – if there’s a “View all” link in the vicinity, I almost always click that instead.

Apparently, I’m not the only one – in response to user experience studies, Google is trying to get us all on the same page: Page 1, that is! Here are a couple of the ways this is playing out.

Google Say, Pagination Bad!

Recently, Google’s Webmaster Central Blog featured a post proclaiming that “User testing has taught us that searchers much prefer the view-all, single-page version of content over a component page containing only a portion of the same information with arbitrary page breaks (which cause the user to click ‘next’ and load another URL).” That’s what I’m talking about! They illustrated the concept like so – a three-page piece of content has double the latency (time delay) of the same content on one page.

Because Google knows that users prefer the one-page experience, if the search engine detects a single-page version of paginated content, from now on they’ll be “making a larger effort to return the single-page version in search results.” In other words, the “View all” version of your multi-page article or guide, instead of page 1, will be considered canonical by Google, and that’s what will rank in the SERP.

Google says they “aim to detect the view-all version of your content,” but if you want to help them out, you can use the rel=“canonical” tag on each component page to make it super easy for Google to find the “view all” version. However, there is an exception to this rule – if the load time for your content when it’s all on one page is too high, users won’t prefer it and therefore Google won’t either. (Remember: page load time has a big effect on conversion rate, too.)

The Infinite SERP: Coming Soon to a Screen Near You?

So that’s one element of the Page 1 thing. But for those of us who really, really like our scroll wheels, it gets better: Google is investigating an “infinite scroll” version of its search results. The company has already implemented this for Image Search. If we had this for general search results, it would effectively mean – you guessed it – we’d all be on Page 1!

According to the G-Squared Interactive (GSQi) blog, Google has been testing infinite scroll results in the past month, along with a locked search bar in the header (so that users can still refine their results, without having to scroll back up). Glenn Gabe runs through a number of possible ways that infinite scroll could affect the Google search results:

  • “Multiple Number 1 Rankings” – Each time a user elects to load more results, the first new result will be a kind of #1.
  • Universal Search and Rich Snippets – Glenn argues that all of these could become more important.
  • More Paid Search Ads – Google might load more paid search results with each set of additional organic results. (“Since Google generates ~97% of its revenue from paid search, ad inventory is very important.”)
  • More Local Search Results – Again, potentially increased opportunity here: “if set up and managed correctly, the combination of paid search and place search could be extremely powerful for local businesses.”

Of course, this is only in testing stage right now. It’s possible that Google will find users do not prefer the infinite SERP. It’s also possible that even if users prefer it, it’s just as important to rank in the top 10 if you want significant traffic/clicks. Time will tell!

What about you – what do you think this will mean for SEO? And as a user, would you prefer to scroll versus click when Googling?