Pogo Sticking vs Bounce Rate: What’s The Difference and Should You Be Worried

Pogo sticking is an SEO term used to describe a situation where a user clicks on a page from the search results page and quickly returns to the SERP. The user won’t stay long and will immediately leave the website. However, you might think this is similar to what you would call bounce, right? 

In this article, you will learn more about Pogo sticking, what makes it different from the bounce rate, and whether you should be worried about it.

In the article

  1. What Is Pogo Sticking?
  2. What Is Bounce Rate?
  3. What Causes Pogo Sticking?
  4. Is Pogo Sticking a Ranking Factor?
  5. Should You Be Worried?
  6. Related Reads

To understand the difference between the two, here is a brief introduction to both pogo sticking and bounce rate.

What Is Pogo Sticking?

As discussed above, pogo-sticking is when a user clicks on a page only to leave the page and return to the search results instantly. It becomes a real problem when multiple users do the same thing on the same page. This will signal to Google that users are unsatisfied with the page and explain why numerous users “pogo stick” the site almost immediately. 

For example, let’s say you are looking for “best practices for link building.” You click on the first page that catches your attention, but when you go inside, you are unsatisfied with the content. So what do you do? You go back to the search engine results page to find something else. 

When a user does this repeatedly, it becomes pogo sticking, and from a business point of view, it is vital to note it and see what can be done to make users stay longer on your page. You can use Google Analytics to get a more detailed analysis of users landing on your page and leaving.

What Is Bounce Rate?

Many confuse pogo-sticking with bounce rate because both concepts revolve around a user leaving the page.

Bounce rate is when a user clicks on a page, stays for a certain period, and leaves the page without taking an action like signing up for a newsletter or submitting their email address. 

For example, if someone clicks on this article, reads everything but then leaves without clicking anything, that is a bounce. Every website has a bounce rate showing the number of people who left the page without taking action. 

What Causes Pogo Sticking?

4 Causes for  pogo sticking
4 Causes for pogo sticking

Some of the common causes for pogo sticking include:

1. Clickbait

Some websites will trick users by showing content relevant to their search, only to reveal after choosing the site, that the sought-after content does not exist there. Clickbait is a dishonest tactic based on deceit and is frowned upon by legitimate businesses.

Typical examples include YouTube videos with enticing images that are unrelated to the video’s actual content. There is also the possibility of a misleading title, but it seems interesting: “Mike Tyson making Eminem laugh for 3 straight minutes” – and yet the video depicts a podcast that does not contain any humorous content. So you bounce. 

2. Information That Cannot Be Accessed

This is another case where a high number of users leave the site. The user might find the relevant information on the site, but as they read further, a popup box will suddenly appear and ask them to sign up to access the rest of the content with the most important information. 

This will make most users hesitate to give their email addresses and will return to the search engine results page (SERP).

3. Poor User Experience

A poor user experience can lead to users leaving a website as soon they realize they are not getting what they came for smoothly and quickly. A clean user interface (UX) can improve a website’s overall performance across all platforms. This will ensure that whatever time the user does spend on the page, at least they won’t be bogged down by a poorly designed or slow-loading website. 

A laggy site has a slow loading speed and may have interstitial ads popping up as a user enters or even while they’re trying to access the desired content. We’ve all seen those terrible sites where you turn off one annoying ad only to have another one immediately pop up. Predictably, most people will find this intolerable and leave the site, seeking the information elsewhere. 

4. The User Might Be Browsing

A simple cause for pogo sticking is that sometimes a user might just be browsing the internet and stumbled upon an article they thought looked interesting. They might leave the page after clicking on it and move to the next one. The fact of the matter is, you cannot satisfy everyone, and it is okay if some people do this occasionally. You might want to look into it if your business goal is to make people stay longer even if they stumbled upon your article. If the content is highly engaging and interesting to read, chances are they might stay to read. 

If you notice the above in any of your pages, implement some changes to prevent pogo-sticking. 

  1. Improve the loading speed if you have a slow site.
  2. Add content related to the search queries.
  3. Add internal links to relevant sites at places where the user will see them. 

Is Pogo Sticking a Ranking Factor?

According to Google’s John Mueller, it is not a ranking factor. He further explains:

“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 really 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.”

John Mueller has repeatedly stated that his words are not meant to be taken as the standard, which applies here too. Pogo sticking is not a ranking factor for Google, but it doesn’t mean you should completely disregard it.

Should You Be Worried?

It all comes down to how pogo sticking or bounce rate impacts your website and business goals. Pogo sticking is not a ranking factor for SEO, but the bounce rate is. 

If most people visiting your site don’t engage or click on anything, you must implement changes to avoid that bounce. Start by improving the website performance using SEO best practices, making the UX smoother on all platforms, especially on mobile since most users browse on their smartphones. Add relevant internal links that are easily seen.

Related Reads

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