What is "pogo sticking" and what does it have to do with my website?

Many people think that bounce rate and pogo sticking are the same thing, but they aren't. I like to think of pogo sticking as bounce rate's devious cousin; they are related, but bounce rate is the one that will get you in the most hot water with the Internet's version of your mom: Google.

Definitions of Bounce Rate and Pogo Sticking

To understand pogo sticking, we need to understand the differences between bounce rate and pogo sticking:

  • Bounce rate: Bounce rate is defined as "the percentage of visitors who visit a single page on a website." A high bounce rate isn't always bad, as it can mean that while the visitor didn't travel deeper into a site, he did spend some time on the page and get an answer to his question. He may have bookmarked the page, or shared it on Facebook, but since he  didn't read more, it constitutes a bounce.
     
  • Pogo sticking: Pogo sticking occurs when a user performs a search, clicks on a result, very quickly clicks back to the search result page, and clicks on a different result. This type of behavior is a direct result of immediate dissatisfaction in the search result, and—unlike bounce rate—pogo sticking is always a bad thing.
     

The Dangers of Pogo Sticking

Pogo sticking isn't always this funGoogle hates pogo sticking more than high bounce rates, as pogo sticking happens within the first five seconds of viewing the page. This indicates that your website isn't doing a good enough job of answering the questions people are asking or that the page was so bad they didn't even bother reading its content. If you have a lot of people pogo sticking on and off your site, Google will notice, and they will penalize you.

Common Causes of Pogo Sticking

Pogo sticking is caused by immediate dissatisfaction with some aspect of your website. But there are lots of things that could go wrong in those precious five seconds, so determining exactly what's wrong with any given page can be a challenge. To help you get to the bottom of problem, here's a list of the most common causes of pogo sticking:

Content related causes:

  • The content doesn't match the title or meta description. (Title promises: "The Scary Truth About Parking Lot Accidents and Children," but the article is about rollover accidents.)
  • The content is spammy. (Title promises: "Five Tips to Winning Your Car Accident Case," but the article is a one paragraph, keyword-stuffed call to action.)
  • The content doesn't match the site's focus. (An article about gluten-free baking on an attorney's website.)
  • The content is loaded with grammar and spelling mistakes.
     

Non-content related causes:

  • Slow page loading time.
  • Videos that auto-play.
  • Too many pop-up windows.
  • A confusing or outdated design.
  • Lack of usability.

If you're concerned about your website's performance, we can help you determine exactly what's affecting its success. We want to give you the tools you need to fix your site and exceed your goals so we recommend that you request your free website analysis and read our in-depth article on performing a content audit. These tools will cost you nothing, and could very well be the key to finally realizing your dream of running a highly successful business.

Laura Johnson
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SEO Manager and Web Marketing Strategist