Stop That Bouncing! How to Solve the Pogo-Stick Problem

As an SEO marketer, you have no doubt hung your head and torn at your hair when considering bounce rate. There is little that is more frustrating than to claw your way to the top of the SERPs only to fall back down due to high clickback rates on the part of users. Known as “pogo sticking” after the popular bouncing toy of decades ago, clickbacks ultimately hurt your search engine ranking and cause you to “lose face.” And yes, Google does know how many times it happens to your website.

What is not clear is exactly how the pogo-stick rate is calculated by the various search engines. It is clear that they calculate the initial time spent on the page before clicking back out, but beyond that the algorithms grow somewhat fuzzy.

What is certain is that a low overall pogo-sticking rate tends to help boost SERP rankings. This means that while some people might spend 30 seconds on a page before leaving while others spend 60 seconds, that page is still going to rank higher than one on which people only spend 10 or 15 seconds.

There is only one way to fight the pogo-stick and that is to get into the searcher’s brain and stay there. If you anticipate what searchers are looking for you will find that they stay longer and lower your bounce rate significantly.

How can you perform this minor miracle?

One way is to target a larger segment of your population. Much of today’s website content is written to target a particular type of customer without thinking about the other 90 percent of the population that may also be interested in a given topic. High bounce rates often indicate that someone is looking for something but finding that your website does not provide it; decide what that could be and either angle your keywords away from that topic or expand your content to embrace more users.

For example, if you perform antique carpet cleaning only, do not try to rank for keywords like “carpet cleaning.” You will automatically engender a high bounce-back rate from users who simply want their everyday carpets cleaned. Instead, focus on keywords that better describe what you actually do, or start cleaning regular carpets!

You should also examine your website design and user experience. A dated-looking website or one that is difficult to navigate almost ensures a high bounce rate. You should also examine load speed and device support for your users. Faster speeds and better device support equal fewer pogo sticks.