There are hundreds of criteria for web pages ranking well in Google. Many of us know about the value of having authoritative back-links and how high traffic volume can impact page-rank, but there are many other criteria that we should also be focusing on. Two of these important factors that are closely related are Bounce Rate and Pogo Sticking.
The bounce rate is when someone lands on a single page of your website but does not proceed to another page on your site. This is not altogether as bad as some might think. It is great if you can lower your bounce rate, but keep in mind that if someone finds you organically and they click through to your result, they may find what they need on that single page. This could be a good thing. A classic example is looking up the contact information for a company. I might type in “Acme Anvil Address and Phone Number”. If I find the information on the first result and I just need their address or phone number, then mission accomplished. I will not likely proceed to another page on their website. Even though bounce rate is not the end of the world, it is still good to have a website that entices users to go deeper and explore more than one page. We will discuss this more later.
Pogo sticking is when someone uses a search engine, clicks on a result, does not find what they want, and immediately clicks back to the search results and chooses something different. This is bad. There is no way to sugar-coat this. If someone clicks back from your page within seconds of landing there only to look at other search results, you clearly did not serve up what they were expecting to find. Google may reward sites that have a lower level of this behavior. Remember, they are in the business of serving up the best results the first time, so their users keep using them. It is in Google’s best interest to constantly evaluate if people are having good experiences on the content that ranks the best. Let’s discuss some ways that you can lower both your bounce rate and pogo sticking behavior on your website.
Accurate Titles and Descriptions
Bounce rate and pogo sticking are not the same thing, but they have common solutions. Start by asking yourself if the way your content is optimized by title and description match what is actually on the page. I absolutely hate when I see a search engine result page (SERP) with a title and definition that looks exactly like what I am looking for, only to find when I click on the result that they baited me to a page with very little relevant information. To create a great experience, we must make sure we deliver what we are advertising. In this case, we must make sure the content of the web page we are leading people to has honest and accurate titles and descriptions for search engines to display.
Have the Best Content
It is not enough to be honest and accurate with your SERP titles and descriptions. You must look at your competitors and those who are ranking in the top results and determine how and why their content is better than your own. This does not mean your page should mimic theirs, but ask yourself if your information is easy to digest, simple to understand, and actually solves a problem or answers the question the person is asking. More is not better, but better content is better. Many companies spend a little bit of time, when compared to the rest of their marketing, on their web copy. I would suggest looking at your most important web pages every six months and determining what can be improved. Then, once you have made changes, measure your bounce rate for those pages and see if there is improvement. You need to measure your bounce rate because the changes we make do not always result in improvements. Save the web copy you had previously for that page in case you want to revert to it.
Are You Leading Your Users?
Once you have taken the time to make sure your content is answering and solving the problems of the people surfing your site, take some time to determine how well you are giving them logical opportunities to click to another page on your site. Google analytics offers many clues to the path people take when surfing your site. Take advantage of this information. If most people surfing your site most naturally move from your homepage to your services page and then to your blog, try creating even more prominent options to get to those same places on the site by using well-designed calls to actions above the fold. Again, measure and see if the flow through those paths increase by a greater number of people. User flow is never perfected on the first attempt. Just because water flows on a natural downward path does not mean those surfing your site are clearly showing you how to improve the path. The analytics may not be leading you to make the right changes. Every website has a user flow and sometimes the best improvement might be to ignore the analytics and start over with a new user flow. Analytics will only reveal the success or flaws of a current UX, but it cannot show you what will happen if you make a significant change to the existing UX. Don’t be afraid to experiment and test.
Is Your Design Amazing?
So much of good SEO is focused on what we are saying, and we may forget to talk about how it looks. Design cannot be left out of the discussion. The only way to measure this is to make design or layout changes, allow some time to pass and measure again. Great design can overcome some of the weaknesses of web copy, but not completely. When both your copy and design are excellent, you have a winning team that is hard to beat. I did a Google search for “Pogo Sticking vs Bounce Rate” and compared some of the top results. Result number one is FosterWebMarketing.com. When I compare their content visually with that of the second result, Business2Community.com, I would clearly choose the first result, because the Business2Community page had a floating menu and large stationary footer that made it difficult to read the content body in a more narrow area. The design of the page made my experience less desirable on the Business2Community page; however, they made good use of practical links that could grab my attention and take me to a second page of the site. This could reduce the chance of me becoming another bounce rate or pogo sticking metric. By the way, here is the link they suggested I look at, and you may want to view it also: Seven Great Tips to Reduce Sites Pogo Sticking Rate. You may also want to look at why having a mobile responsive website matters so much.