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Local Memo: The End of Infinite Scrolling on Google

 

In this week’s update, we discuss the end of the infinite scroll on Google Search; menu items as a likely ranking factor; Google completes its June spam update, and new property attributes on GBP.

 

The End of Infinite Scrolling in Search 

 

The News 

 

Google has resurrected the old SEO joke about the best place to hide a dead body (answer: page 2) by announcing the end of infinite scrolling in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

 

This update introduces a traditional pagination bar for desktop users and a “More search results” button for mobile, replacing the infinite scrolling feature, to enhance result delivery speed.

 

paginated results in google showing numbers and google with lots of Os.

 

Google claims this adjustment will enhance the user experience by allowing easier navigation through search results; however, many industry experts remain skeptical about the underlying reasons for this shift. Some have speculated that the real motive behind this change is to increase ad clicks and promote Google-owned properties. 

 

Brett Tabke, founder of the Pubcon search marketing conference (and the person who coined the term SERPs), suggests that by limiting organic results to the first page, Google could be steering users towards their own services and advertisements, potentially reshaping the search landscape into a more ad-centric model. 

 

Others, like Kevin Indig, acknowledge that continuous scrolling might not universally benefit users outside social media platforms. He argues that for purposes like e-commerce or informational browsing, traditional paginated results offer a more purposeful navigation experience.

 

Why This Matters

 

Appearing on the second page of Google search results is detrimental to visibility and traffic. According to a 2023 LinkedIn survey, only 6.6% of searchers navigate beyond the first page. Another study by Backlinko reports it’s even lower, at less than 1%. Due to this overwhelming aversion to page 2 results, local pages that rank outside the top 9 organic search results may see a drop in overall impressions.

The good news is the Local Pack, when it appears, remains on page 1. Businesses that generate most of their sales and leads through their Google Business Profiles (GBPs) will likely see no traffic loss. SABs relying more on service and location pages may see those pages get fewer clicks if they fall to page 2.

 

Menu Items Likely a Ranking Factor 

 

The News

 

Claudia Tomina at ReputionArm published an interesting blog that seems to indicate that menu items listed on GBPs are a ranking factor when searchers are looking for specific dishes near them.

 

In the example she provided, rank for “best caesar salad near me” drastically improved for a restaurant listing after changing the name of the dish from “Caesar Kitchen” to “Caesar salad.”

 

Line graph showing best caesar salad in June showing a fluctuation based on days.

Courtesy of ReputationArm

 

This isn’t surprising given the recent API leak, which has multiple references to local menu content:

 

Menu item Attribute - Google API

Courtesy of hexdocs

 

The blog suggests that Popular times as listed on GBPs with physical locations may also be a ranking factor. Based on the times the ranking reports that support this theory were run, the conclusion could also be drawn that hours of operation are a ranking factor. We’ve seen a lot of volatility in the evenings as restaurants open and close for the day. More research is definitely needed on this one.

 

Why This Matters 

 

If there is indeed a direct correlation between the menu item’s name and the search query, the food and beverage industry may want to rethink fancy names for popular drinks and dishes with high search volumes.

 

Google Completes June Spam Update 

 

The News 

 

Google recently concluded its rollout of the June 2024 spam update, which spanned seven days from June 20 to June 27. This was the second spam update in 2024

 

The June update broadly addressed violations of Google’s search spam policies. Google clarified that this update was distinct from its efforts against link spam and reiterated its commitment to informing the community when algorithmic changes affecting site reputation abuse occur.

 

During the rollout, some tracking tools reported varying degrees of volatility in search rankings. This differentiation is typical for spam updates, as they often impact lesser-known sites more significantly than established brands.

 

The update coincided with an indexing bug, leading Barry Schwarts at Search Engine Roundtable to speculate that the update may have caused the issue. Google has since fixed the bug.

 

Why This Matters 

 

If you are following Google’s policies on spam, it shouldn’t matter to you. Unless of course you’re in an industry where competition routinely publishes pages that break those policies to tip the scales in their favor. In those industries, rankings may improve as Google deprioritized those spammy pages in search results. 

 

New Property Attributes on GBP 

 

The News 

 

Great news for those managing property listings on GBP: Google has finally released some long-overdue amenities attributes. Our team at SOCi discovered earlier this week that Google added attributes like “Has swimming pool” and “Pets welcome” as selectable amenities on GBPs.

 

List of Google attributes for property management companies (PMCs)

 

While other attributes like “has laundry on site,”  “has refrigerator,” or “section 8 accepted” are still needed, this is a welcome start.

 

Why This Matters 

 

GBP attributes are an influential ranking factor. Properties that don’t take advantage may see their profile omitted from search results when these amenities are a factor in the search query, e.g., “pet-friendly apartments near me.”

Michael Snow

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