Pogo-sticking in SEO occurs when a user enters a website and promptly returns to the search results to explore a different outcome.
Now, you might be inclined to equate pogo-sticking with bounce rate, but they are distinct concepts. The difference between pogo-sticking and bounce rate will be elucidated shortly.
Certain SEOs and marketers speculate that pogo-sticking influences rankings, positing that Google penalizes sites associated with pogo-sticking.
This article delves into Pogo Sticking from an SEO standpoint. It delves into the primary causes of pogo-sticking, investigates whether it serves as a ranking factor, and provides insights into how you can enhance the engagement level of your content.
What Is Pogo Sticking?
“Pogo-sticking, as previously explained, occurs when a user clicks on a webpage only to swiftly exit and return to the search results. The issue intensifies when numerous users exhibit the same behavior on a particular page.“
This pattern sends a signal to Google, indicating user dissatisfaction with the page and elucidating why a significant number of users engage in immediate “pogo-sticking” away from the site.
For instance, imagine you’re searching for “best practices for link building.” You click on the first page that grabs your attention, but upon entering, you find the content unsatisfactory. What do you do?
You return to the search engine results page to explore other options.
When users consistently repeat this behavior, it constitutes pogo-sticking. From a business perspective, it is crucial to take note of this and assess ways to prolong user engagement on your page.
Utilizing tools like Google Analytics can offer a more comprehensive analysis of user behavior, including landing on your page and subsequent exits.
Difference Between Pogo-Sticking and Bounce Rate
A high bounce rate serves as a ranking signal for Google, indicating that a visitor arrived on your site and departed without exploring a second page.
While an elevated bounce rate may suggest a potential issue with user experience, it doesn’t necessarily signify a problem.
For instance, in the context of a blog, if a visitor’s questions are comprehensively addressed in a blog post, they might exit promptly without delving further into the site, not due to dissatisfaction but because their needs were met.
Google, being astute, considers additional factors, such as the duration of time spent on a page.
Hint: If you’re unaware of your bounce rate, you can access my Google Analytics dashboard on the right-hand side.
Pogo-sticking, on the other hand, involves bouncing from one search result to another. This behavior contributes to a reduction in your bounce rate as users land on your page and swiftly hit the back button.
However, it’s crucial to note that, unlike bounce rate, pogo-sticking is consistently viewed negatively by Google. It signals that visitors departed without finding the information they sought.
Does pogo-sticking influence rankings?
In a nutshell, pogo-sticking is highly unlikely to be a ranking factor. Several years ago, John Mueller addressed this in a Google Webmaster Central hangout, affirming:
”We try not to use signals like that when it comes to search. So that’s something where there are lots of reasons why users might go back and forth, or look at different things in the search results, or stay just briefly on a page and move back again. I think that’s hard to refine and say ‘Well, we could turn this into a ranking factor.”
So I would not worry about things like that. When we look at our algorithms overall, when we review which algorithm changes that we want to launch, we do look into how users react to these changes.
But that’s something we look at across millions of different queries, and millions of different pages, and kind of see in general is this algorithm going the right way or is this algorithm going in the right way.
But for individual pages, I don’t think that’s something worth focusing on at all.
Best Ways to Prevent Pogo Sticking!
Here are some straightforward and effective measures to prevent pogo-sticking:
a. Enhance User Experience: Ensure a positive user experience within the first 4 seconds to retain visitors to your website. Opt for a larger font size for easy readability, as users may leave if they struggle to read content. Select relevant images that align with the content, providing users with a visual understanding of the topic.
b. Consider Search Intent: Match the search intent of users visiting your website, addressing their specific needs and queries.
c. Maintain Updated Content: Regularly update and improve content to stay relevant and demonstrate commitment to recent trends. Display both the ‘Updated on‘ and original ‘Published on‘ dates to showcase the content’s freshness.
d. Incorporate Tables of Content: Include a table of contents, especially for long-form content, to offer users a preview and easy navigation. Prevent overwhelming users with data, allowing them to stay on the site instead of returning to search results.
e. Utilize Internal Links: Implement internal links strategically, especially higher on the page, to engage users and prolong their stay. Deepen user exploration within the website, reducing the likelihood of returning to the search results. Facilitate access to additional information directly from the webpage, diminishing the need to revisit the search page.
What causes pogo-sticking?
Many factors can contribute to pogo-sticking, and it’s essential to note that not all of them stem from subpar content or unfavorable user experience.
1. Clickbait Content
One prevalent cause is clickbait content, where a user enters a site enticed by exaggerated promises that ultimately fail to deliver.
Such content employs sensationalist tactics, often featuring headlines like “You’ll Never Believe This (…),” “Do This One Thing for 6 Weeks and (…),” or “They Don’t Want You to Know This (…).” Users, feeling deceived, quickly revert or “pogo” back to the search engine results page.
2. Concealed Information
Essentially, the searcher encounters difficulty locating the desired information, even if it exists on the website. The issue lies in the information being submerged beneath extensive text, obscured by perplexing language, or inaccessible to certain users.
3. Poor User Experience
In this situation, the searcher becomes swiftly disheartened (or suspicious) due to the appearance and functionality of the site, prompting a return to the safety of the Search Engine Results Page.
Several factors can contribute to a poor UX, including:
- Sluggish site speed
- Irritating advertisements
- Intrusive sign-up forms obstructing content
- Confusing website layout
- Lack of optimization for mobile devices
- The Searcher is exploring
Pogo-sticking may also transpire when the searcher is casually exploring; their intention might not be to linger on a specific page. They could be seeking inspiration, comparing prices, or attempting to recollect a site they encountered recently.
4. Slow Loading Times
Experience the frustration of eagerly awaiting a webpage, only to be met with an incessantly spinning loading icon?
That exasperating feeling mirrors what your site visitors endure when confronted with prolonged loading times.
The likelihood of them swiftly reverting to the search results surpasses that of a kangaroo on a trampoline. Accelerating your site’s pace doesn’t require rocket science. Consider these strategies:
b. Caching Optimization: Employ caching plugins such as W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket, particularly if your platform is WordPress. These plugins store portions of your site, enhancing load speed for returning visitors.
c. Streamlined Design: Embrace the principle of less is more by minimizing the use of intricate graphics and simplifying your site’s design for more efficient performance.
d. Optimal Hosting Selection: Invest in reliable hosting services; don’t cut corners. Hosting providers like SiteGround or Bluehost can significantly enhance your site’s speed and overall performance.
Revitalize your site’s pace, ensuring a swift and enjoyable experience for your visitors. Swift and seamless – that’s the approach to adopt!
5. Intrusive Advertisements or Pop-Ups
Disturbing elements, such as intrusive advertisements, can significantly impact the user experience, prompting visitors to leave your site in search of a less bothersome alternative. To address this issue:
a. Balance is Key: Ensure a harmonious balance between ads and content, preventing ads from overshadowing the main purpose of the visit.
b. Timing Matters: If using pop-ups, time them appropriately, perhaps after user engagement with the content rather than immediately upon arrival.
c. Use Friendly Formats: Opt for less intrusive ad formats, such as small banners, side ads, or native advertising that seamlessly blends in.
d. Tools to Tidy Up: Utilize tools like Google’s Auto Ads for optimal ad placement and control, enhancing visibility without annoying.
Maintaining a user-friendly environment by featuring non-intrusive ads ensures longer visitor retention while still effectively monetizing the site.
6. Complex Navigation or Layout
A confusing layout or intricate navigation can leave visitors feeling lost and frustrated, prompting them to leave. Simplify the user experience with the following strategies:
a. Streamline Menus: Keep menus simple and intuitive, prioritizing easy access to the most sought-after information.
b. Clear Labels: Use straightforward language for headings and links, ensuring their relevance to the content they lead to.
c. Breadcrumb Trails: Implement breadcrumb trails to provide users with a clear path and enhance navigation.
d. User Testing: Leverage tools like UserTesting.com to observe real users navigating your site, identifying areas for improvement.
Creating a welcoming and easily navigable website encourages visitors to stay longer. Focus on simplicity, intuitiveness, and clarity in design.
7. Lack of Credibility or Trust Signals
Websites lacking credibility or trust signals can create a skeptical user experience, leading visitors to question the legitimacy of the site. Boost credibility with the following tactics:
a. Showcase Testimonials: Feature customer testimonials, using platforms like TrustPilot to enhance trustworthiness.
b. Display Certificates or Awards: Flaunt industry recognitions as a badge of honor, showcasing your site’s achievements.
c. Clear Contact Information: Ensure easy access to contact information, reassuring visitors that there is a genuine human presence behind the site.
d. About Us Page: Craft a relatable and honest About Us page, narrating your story to establish a strong connection with visitors.
By incorporating these trust signals, you create a reassuring online environment, signaling to visitors that your site is reliable and inviting them to engage with confidence.
Should you be concerned?
The crucial factor is understanding the impact of pogo-sticking or bounce rate on your website and business objectives. While pogo-sticking doesn’t influence SEO rankings, bounce rate does.
If a significant portion of your site visitors fails to interact or click on any elements, addressing this bounce rate is essential.
Initiate improvements by optimizing website performance through SEO best practices, ensuring a seamless user experience across all platforms, with particular emphasis on mobile responsiveness.
Incorporate easily visible and pertinent internal links to enhance user engagement.
Don’t concern yourself with pogo-sticking as a factor influencing SEO. John clarifies that pogo-sticking, as it is commonly referred to, holds no weight as a ranking factor.
This perspective aligns with the diverse reasons users might navigate between search engine results pages and websites.
To encourage prolonged user engagement on your site, consider implementing the aforementioned tips to enhance the appeal of your content. Certain strategies may even contribute to improved rankings in the SERPs.
Frequently Asked Questions
a. Why is the bounce rate 100%?
When your bounce rates hover between 90% and 100%, it signifies a struggle to draw visitors further into your sales funnel. This high rate serves as an indicator of an unhealthy funnel, potentially stemming from issues like inadequate landing pages, improper keyword or audience targeting, and occasionally technical glitches.
b. What is a low bounce rate SEO?
With a low bounce rate in terms of SEO, the average bounce rate typically falls within the range of 26% to 70%, with the optimal zone situated between 26% and 40%. Achieving a rate below 20% is generally uncommon, so if your data reflects such a figure, it’s advisable to reassess various factors.
c. Does bounce rate affect SEO?
High bounce rates have the potential to impact SEO outcomes because they signal subpar content to Google and other significant search engines.