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What is pogo-sticking?

It refers to the act of clicking on the search results page and results repeatedly. Google and other search engines take this into account while ranking content.

Put simply. It’s like,

pogo sticking

User searches for the term, clicks on a result in SERPs, reads the content a little, clicks on the back button and returns to the SERPs.

Or like, they search and land on your page. Open a new tab, search for the same query.

It’s called pogosticking. It means users are not interested in your content.

So why do people click back from a web page to SERPs?

There are three reasons;

  • They are not satisfied with the content on the page.
  • The poor user experience on the page.
  • They want to read through more results for the same query.
  • They came across irrelevant results. They want to modify their search term.

I will explain all these and give you some action points.

Reason #1. Dissatisfaction

If users are dissatisfied with the content on a page, he clicks on the back button.

Google tracks this.

Why are users dissatisfied? It is because of irrelevant or incomplete content.

Most of the times, when the users come across irrelevant content, they remain on the page less than 10 seconds, then click on the back button.

If this sort of pogosticking repeats for 3 or more times, the result will be ranked low.

Action: While writing blog posts, make sure that the content is relevant to the users searching for your target search term in Google.

Your content should cover all the stuff that users may be looking for.

How to track the pages that might have been affected by pogosticking?

Head over to Google Analytics.

Go to all traffic, channels. Now click on Organic traffic.

Here set primary dimension as the Landing page.

Organic traffic landing pages in Google Analytics

In advanced search, set page views more than 70 or more (depending on the traffic you are getting).

And also set to display results that have page visit duration less than 50 seconds.

Now sort out the results based on organic searches, in ascending order of average page visit duration.

Now the pages with “Avg. Time on Page” less than 17 seconds have a higher probability of being the victim of pogo-sticking.

You may also sort out the results by taking bounce rate into account.

Here, my blog post on blog conclusions is definitely the victim of pogosticking.

Pogosticking in webmaster tools

If a top result in SERPs has very high bounce rate and less visit duration, expect the rankings to drop.

Make a list of all these sorts of posts.

Reconsider the blog posts. Update it. Add relevant content. Drive massive value to your readers.

Make sure that the content satisfies the users’ query. Think like – “If a user searches for this keyword, what would they be looking for?” You can also use feedback or survey mechanisms, to know what users are looking for.

Make use of rank trackers, to track the rankings of the content. Monitor whether the rankings have boosted since then.

Here are some of the other tips:

  • Make sure that you use a high-quality professional theme on your site. When the blog design is attractive, readers tend to spend more time on your site.
  • Split up long paragraphs. It increases the audience retention duration.
  • Use attractive professional images and videos on your blog. Videos, especially, holds your readers for a long time.
  • Work on content which has less than 10 seconds audience visits duration.

Reason #2. Poor user experience

Users may pogo stick due to the poor user experience.

Answer these questions.

  • Are there any annoying pop-ups on your site?
  • Are there any auto-playing videos?
  • Is your site poorly designed, with little or no CSS?
  • Are there any slow loading pages?
  • Do you have mobile responsive theme on your site?(mobile search market is increasing drastically)

Make all the tweaks that encourage the user to remain on your site for a longer duration.

Poor user experience leads to pogo-sticking even if the content is relevant and insightful to the user.

Set large font size, clear headlines. Concentrate more on the typography of your theme.

Reason #3. Want to explore further

What’s the second reason why users pogo stick on your blog? It’s because your content is incomplete.

In this case, really long content that answers all the probable questions of your users works great.

The bad impact caused by this type of pogosticking on your rankings is less. Because users already found your content useful. But they want to know more.

Reason #4. User modifies search term

Users sometimes land on your page, then return to SERPs. Again they go through a result and then return to the same search results. Then, there they modify the search query.

Why? It’s because all the results on the SERPs for their old query may be irrelevant. Your content might have ranked for the wrong search term.

In this case, it may be the mistake of the user’s search query or the Google itself.

If more and more number of users stumble across the same irrelevant results, modify the same search query. Google reconsiders the results for the search query.

For reconsidering, Google may refer the results those users clicked on after modifying the search term.

A thought

It has been clear that Google and other major search engines are taking SERP pogosticking into account.

But what about pogosticking in case of internally linked content? Like, if a user clicks on an internal link, then clicks back to the original post within a time frame.

Google may track this, using the data collected by Google Chrome and Analytics.

It’s a good idea to avoid internal linking to uninterested content. Always use descriptive anchor texts. Or make use of link titles properly. By this, users are clear about the content they’re going to see after clicking the link. It avoids internal pogosticking.

If not now, Google definitely adopts this internal pogosticking in the future.

The same applies to all the links across several sites.

Up to you

While writing blog posts, take user intent into consideration.

Think like – “What are all the answers that the user may be looking for a search query?” Consider including table of contents. It helps your visitors know what they are getting from your blog post.

Be natural.

Watch the below video by Rand Fishkin on pogosticking.

Here’s the Yahoo! whitepaper on this.

If you are more keen to know how Google tracks your search results interaction, here’s a Stackoverflow thread.

Here’s the plugin that helps you redirect users to a URL of your choice when they click on the back button on their browser.


Let me know what are your views on pogosticking. Leave comments and share this post if it did help you.