If you’re familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), you’ve most likely come across the word pogo-sticking. While it’s easy to confuse pogo-sticking with bounce rate, the fact is, there is a difference between the two SEO metrics.
So, what exactly is pogo-sticking, and how do you fix it for better organic page rankings?
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about pogo-sticking in SEO.
Pogo-sticking is a term used to refer to users’ movement from one search result to another on the search engine results page (SERPs), as they hope to find a result that will satisfy their intent.
Take pogo-sticking in this scenario:
For example, you search “best website builders” on Google. The first result seems like what you need. So you click on it.
However, the website you clicked on takes forever to load. So you get frustrated and leave the website.
You go back to the results page and click on the second result. Turns out, the second website uses a small font and has a couple of disruptive ads. Again, you leave the website and move to the third result.
So, the back-and-forth movement from one search result to another is what is pogo-sticking.
People often confuse pogo-sticking with bounce rate, but there’s a notable difference.
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users who land on a website but fail to interact with the website. The action they could have taken to engage with your website is filling out a form, clicking on a button or clicking on another webpage on your website.
In short, if a visitor lands on your website and spends five minutes but does nothing on your website other than reading and scrolling, that counts toward your bounce rate.
On the other hand, pogo-sticking is an advanced type of bounce rate. That is, people leave your website, jump back to the SERP and click on another result. If users go back and try to reframe their search query, that’s also pogo-sticking.
Users pogo-stick for a number of reasons. However, the majority pogo-stick due to a bad user experience (UX) or poor quality of information on the website.
Here are more common reasons why users pogo stick.
Many SEO marketers believe that pogo-sticking is a strong Google ranking signal. But Google has quashed this theory and said it doesn’t use pogo-sticking in its ranking algorithm.
But does it mean that pogo-sticking cannot impact your organic page rankings? Not necessarily.
Pogo-sticking is solid proof that users do not like your page. Simply put, if the majority of your visitors pogo-stick all over the SERP after visiting your site, it’s a good indication your site isn’t giving visitors what it’s supposed to.
And Google can tell when visitors are unhappy, which is why it made the “People Also Search For” box.
Since Google is keen on providing users with a seamless page experience, a short click accompanied by users’ pogo-sticking is a clear sign that the result it has ranked on the top is not what users want.
And for this, Google is likely to drop your page rankings a few spots and give priority to the website that users find more useful and a better experience overall.
So even though pogo-sticking is not an SEO ranking factor, it can directly impact your page rankings.
As I said earlier, pogo-sticking is a result of a bad experience users had with the previous website. When you offer your visitors a seamless page experience and write content that matches their queries, you reduce instances of pogo-sticking significantly.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of minimizing pogo-sticking by users.
User intent (search intent) is the process of fulfilling readers’ expectations by offering satisfying answers that match their queries.
For example, when you Google “buy headphones,” what shows up first are commercial pages selling the product and not a blog post.
This is because Google knows that from the query, you are looking for a place to buy headphones.
On the flip side, if you are searching for “best headphones to buy,” chances are you need advice on which headphones to buy. So Google is likely to show blog posts with a list of recommendations.
Now, the question is, how do you write for search intent and prevent people from pogo-sticking?
Begin by knowing the search intent of the keyword that you want to rank for. That is, what’s the user’s goal?
Is it to buy?
Is it to search for information?
Or is the query navigational? Do they want to land on a particular page (e.g., login to an account)?
Knowing the type of query helps you understand the type of content that you need to create to appear on the first page of Google.
For example, when a user searches for “Bluetooth headphones,” their intent is likely to buy the product. This means if you create a blog post and try to optimize it around that keyword, you’ll waste your time.
Instead, do a simple Google search for the keyword you want to rank for. Try to figure out the intent for the query by scanning over what ranks on the first page.
Then, know the content type that ranks on the first page. Is it an ultimate how-to guide, a listicle, a YouTube video or a “why” post?
Go through the page and dive deep to know the type of content and the average length of each blog post. This helps you understand whether you need to write an in-depth article or just a short one. If most of the blog posts seem long, this likely means that to rank for the keyword, you need to create an insightful article.
If your content is not in-depth enough and does not answer every possible question users need to get answered once they perform a particular search, you’re in trouble.
The reason most of them leave for another website is that they want to build on what they have learned from your website.
How do you prevent this from happening? By writing skyscraper content.
Focus on offering insightful, comprehensive content that answers every question related to the query.
Manually do a Google search and pay attention to the “People Also Ask” boxes. Spot a couple of questions that closely relate to the keyword. Then, craft a post that answers the questions.
You can also incorporate frequently asked questions (FAQs) boxes into your content to give short and punchy answers about the topic.
Time is a killer. Each additional second that your site takes to load is one more reason to drive your visitors away. It’s a direct way to tell them to hit the back button as if there is no tomorrow.
So make sure that your site loads faster, ideally less than two seconds. Tools like PageSpeed Insights can help you spot the reasons your site is slow, what’s causing it to lag and what to do to speed it up.
If readers have a hard time reading and understanding your page content, they will opt to go back to SERP and click on your competitor’s website.
The question is, how do you improve your content’s readability?
First, begin by using a larger font. The more users have to pinch and zoom your page to properly view the text, the less likely they are to stay for long. And it’s this frustration that makes them pogo-stick.
Second, make your content easy to understand. Avoid jargon and pretentious language that potentially drive your readers away.
Third, use short sentences and paragraphs to prevent reading fatigue. You can use Hemingway App editor and Grammarly to improve the readability of your content.
Your website appearance can make or break your site’s conversions. In fact, one study shows that people take an average of 0.05 seconds to make a decision about your website – whether they like or hate it, and if they should stay or leave.
This makes web design critical to your success. A website that’s hard to navigate or use will cause users to bounce back to SERPs and find a more user-friendly result. So, ensure that your site is easy to use and browse.
Pogo-sticking is a user behavior that can impact your page ranking. Taking the necessary steps to make sure your users do not pogo-stick once they leave your website is essential to your search performance. I hope you learned something from the tips I shared above – and happy optimizing!