Google’s Return to Pagination

by Harshad Ghodke

Google has recently rolled back its infinite scroll feature on desktop search results, opting instead for traditional pagination.

While this change has not yet been implemented on mobile, it’s a significant update for desktop users and website owners. With the advent of generative AI, many wonder about the future landscape of Google’s search results.


What Has Changed?

For a while, Google experimented with infinite scroll on desktop, allowing users to continuously scroll down to see more search results without clicking to the next page. This feature has now been replaced with the familiar pagination system.

Users will once again see numbered pages at the bottom of their search results and need to click through them to see more results.

Impact on SEO and User Experience

SEO Implications

  1. Visibility and Click-Through Rates: Traditional pagination means the competition for the first page of search results will be as fierce as ever. Websites that rank on the first page will continue to enjoy the majority of clicks, while those on subsequent pages may see less traffic.
  2. User Behavior: Infinite scroll encouraged users to view more results, potentially benefiting sites that ranked lower but were relevant to user queries. With pagination, users may be less likely to click through multiple pages, reinforcing the importance of achieving a high ranking.

User Experience

  1. Familiar Navigation: Many users find traditional pagination more predictable and easier to navigate. The return to this system could enhance the overall search experience by providing a clearer structure.
  2. Load Times and Performance: Infinite scroll can sometimes lead to longer load times, especially on slower connections. Pagination can help manage load times more effectively, providing a smoother user experience.

The Role of Generative AI in Search Results

With generative AI making significant strides, there’s speculation about how this technology will shape the future of search results. One possibility is that the first page of Google’s search results could become predominantly filled with ads and AI-generated content.

Potential Benefits

  1. Enhanced User Options: If Google offers a dedicated AI-generated answer section alongside traditional search results, users could benefit from concise, accurate AI-generated information. This could save time for users looking for quick answers.
  2. Improved Search Experience: By separating AI content from traditional search results, users can choose the type of information they prefer, whether a straightforward AI answer or a comprehensive website.

A New Search Interface: My Ideal Scenario

I personally feel that an optimal search interface would include a “Web” tab at the top of the search page, allowing users to switch between AI-generated answers and traditional search results. This setup would allow users to choose the format that best suits their needs.

  1. AI Tab: Quick, concise answers generated by AI for users looking for fast information.
  2. Web Tab: Traditional search results with links to various websites, providing a deeper dive into the topic and diverse perspectives.


Google’s shift back to pagination on desktop is a notable change in the search landscape, emphasising the importance of achieving a high ranking on the first page.

As generative AI continues evolving, we may see a more segmented approach to search results, offering AI-generated content and traditional web links. This could enhance the user experience by providing more options and catering to different preferences.

As an SEO professional, staying informed about these changes is crucial and adapting strategies accordingly to ensure visibility and relevance in this ever-evolving search environment.