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Your website has a decent amount of visitors, but the majority of them is just peeking for a few seconds and leaving without reading anything in the pages. This indicates high bounce rate and, possibly, pogo sticking. Read more How to Reduce Bouncing and Pogo Sticking

How to Reduce Bouncing and Pogo Sticking

Your website has a decent amount of visitors, but the majority of them is just peeking for a few seconds and leaving without reading anything in the pages. This indicates high bounce rate and, possibly, pogo sticking.

How to Reduce Bouncing and Pogo Sticking
Short bounces aren't good for rankings

In this article, we take a closer look at the meaning of bouncing and pogo sticking, how they differ from each other and what are the most typical reasons for shifty user behavior. After defining the bounce rate and pogo sticking, we will also describe how to reduce bouncing and to guide users towards longer clicks – make them read your content for a while and browse more pages during their visits.


Bouncing and Sticking mostly depend on:

  1. Content and context
  2. Visual design of website
  3. Navigation links’ structure
  4. Speed of Web Hosting
  5. Page optimization

Let’s take a look at some important definitions before we immerse ourselves in reduction of bouncing and pogo sticking.


What is Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is a percentage of users entering a website and leaving without opening more than one page. Being one of the most important effectiveness measures, bounce rate indicates the quality of a website – how the website satisfies visitors and attracts them to browse more than one page during their visit.


Time Doesn’t Matter Much

Surprisingly, definitions of bounce do not specify how short or long the visit should be to consider it a bounce. For example, see Wikipedia definition here. However, the maximum time on page is mostly limited by user session timeout in statistics software, like Google Analytics.


Difference Between Short Bounce and Long Bounce
Bounce rate alone doesn’t always give full picture of user behavior. It is suggested to consider bounce rate together with average time on the page, to understand how much time visitors spend on reading particular content. If there are many visitors who leave the page before they have been there at least 10 seconds, it means that they had different expectations and they didn’t found what they were looking for.


No matter how you look, short bounces aren’t good for website search rankings

It is a completely different story, if user opens a page with 2,500 words, reads it for 12 minutes and leaves without clicking any other links after reading the full story. Such a long time spent on the page indicates that visitors found the page very interesting, since they stayed and read it for a long time. The fact that they left after reading the page without clicking any other links rather points to the problem in site’s overall navigation or lack of links at the end of the page.


Bounce Time Depends on Questions You Answer

How to Reduce Bouncing and Pogo Sticking
Short answers on Google results page

If users search with questions that have truly short answers, then the bounce rate may be higher than for more analytical topics. For example, the answers to the questions „What is the currency of Mexico?” or „What is the capital of Portugal?” are so brief that it is totally possible to get them in less than 10 seconds. Such short bounces are not always bad because users search, find answers and are happy with it. Other examples of precise questions and short answers category are dictionaries and Wikipedia-type pages.


What is Pogo Sticking?
Pogo sticking means users returning swiftly back to search engine after clicking a link on the search engines results page, and then clicking on another result. If users are pogo sticking your page link in search engines, it signals that the content of the website was not satisfying – they didn’t found what they were looking for.


Differences Between Bounce and Pogo Sticking
It depends on the viewpoint and which statistics you have available. If you look at your page analytics, there is absolutely no difference between short bounces and pogo sticking. That is the major problem with identifying pogo sticking in your site. Website owner can only make a vague guess about the reason of short bounce and how users proceeded after bouncing off.

Search engine has an advantage over you on identifying pogo sticking. It registers user actions after they bounced off from your page and sees larger picture with all sort of irregularities in searchers’ behavior. If there is a lot of pogo sticking going on, which indicates that users are unhappy with your site, you will lose in rankings.


Understanding Google Goals
Google wants to be No. 1 in search business. The only way to offer superior service is to satisfy users by listing relevant search results giving the best possible answers to their questions. Ideal scenario is a so-called “long click”, when users click a link on search engine results page and stay on the website for a considerable amount of time, preferably, not returning back to search engine again.


Pages with high bounce rate result in a lot pogo sticking rise. Low quality pages are not aligning with search engine goals. Although the content quality of a particular page is good, it may just not be suitable to list it for the particular search term. For assigning search ranking to each page, search algorithms are relying more on users’ behavior nowadays.


Brief summary:

  • Short bounces and pogo sticking are the indicators of users’ dissatisfaction.
  • Long clicks and not returning back to search engine results page shows that website placement on high position for a particular term is well justified.


Dancing Back and Forth

How to Reduce Bouncing and Pogo Sticking
Your website dancing back and forth.

Those webmasters who follow their website rankings closely in search engine results, have noticed that Google tests new pages’ quality by raising them higher for a few days. This is needed for letting searchers to click on those page links in search engine results and measuring for how long they stay on the page. If visitors are bouncing back fast and pogo sticking a lot, the website will not stay in high position, but will be getting lower ranking.


This kind of “Google Dance” of moving page forth and back in search results is part of determining the right position with particular search phrase. Since user satisfaction has a high weight on overall rating, getting people to click a website link is the only way to determine its true quality by Google.


When Google Dance Happens
You may see page results dancing forth and back after you created a new page or updated an old one with considerable amount of new content. With very competitive search terms, the page will probably not remain in its initial high position; it will be raised for a short period – varying mostly from a few hours to two days, and will be moved lower again.


Outdated Definition of Google Dance
Be aware! There is also an outdated definition of Google dance, which was related with wild fluctuations during ranking rebuilding period. However, this kind of dance was originally the case already more than a decade ago, when Google updated rankings over a few weeks with clearly observable intervals. Back then, it was not anyhow related to quality check based on user behavior, as it is now.


Regardless of changed inner reasons of dance, the term itself is perfectly describing the links movement back and forth in Google search results and remains a powerful metaphor to this day.


Top 5 Reasons for Bouncing and Pogo Sticking
Bouncing may depend on a countless number of tiny details, and every website has always some room for improvement. Even if there are professional designers, usability specialists, programmers, SEO engineers, text writers, editors and photographers on your payroll, there is always something to improve. Major problems, more important first:

  1. There is only very thin content or it is out of context
  2. Design is sluggish, doesn’t support the message
  3. Overall navigation is not clear, too cluttered
  4. Website runs on web hosting server which is too slow
  5. Site scripts are too heavy and code needs optimization


Bouncing and Pogo Sticking are Just Symptoms
Using complex visit statistics may give you broad idea about average visit time and deepness, but often not pointing out true reasons. That leaves you too open for guessing and digging in minor details, without seeing the big picture.


No, Length of Meta Description doesn’t Help You
There are too many outdated articles about SEO out there, which create false sense of importance of one or other technical element. Recently on of our clients asked: “I analyzed my website with SEO automatic checker and found out that the length of Meta Description field was over 300 characters, but the suggested length should be 160, no more.”

The question indicates that this website owner doesn’t truly understand how Google uses Meta description and that it isn’t directly used for page rating.

Content Matters More Than You May Think
During our nearly two-decade-long experience in building and optimizing websites, we have seen many clients who are nitpicking over some minor elements without seeing the big picture. The truth is that visitors come to your website for content. Lack of well-written content, which would grasp attention from the first second, is the number one reason why visitors bounce away from websites. Two major problems with creating superior content are:

  • It takes a lot of time to write well-structured texts
  • Illustrating takes even more time and effort

Many webmasters who followed widely known SEO formulas had false sense of security and thought that having proper title tags and inbound links with proper anchors was enough. This is not the case today. There was so much sneaking and hustling with both technical elements in page and inbound links, that their weight has been greatly reduced today. The good news is that the change leaves more room for quality content.


Think About User Intentions and Needs
A few paragraphs back we learned that user satisfaction is extremely important for Google. If you create content that is important for your visitors, you will kill two birds with one stone:

  • Visitors stick to your page and stay there longer
  • Your website gains higher rankings in search engines

In creating page content, you should exercise some empathy and think what is important for your visitors. Tailor your solutions, so that they fit better with visitors’ needs:

  1. Investigate who are the persons you are talking to?
  2. What are the problems they seek solutions for most often?
  3. How you can help them to find those solutions?
  4. What else is there about these problems?

Finding the right tone and angle may be difficult at the beginning. Once you discover the right niche and open up for dialogue, you will start seeing more details and be able to offer better content on your website.


Why There Is Less Visual Design
With wide popularity of cheap content management systems (CMS), well editable websites are way more affordable than a decade ago. Unfortunately, most of the out-of-box websites do not have original design and this is certainly handicapping many marketing efforts.


Mobile Websites Are Even Less Designed
With the emergence of devices with smaller screens, like smart phones and tablets, web design took another hit. You really can’t fit much background graphic and detailed vignettes to small screens. The focus has shifted to changing fonts and layout blocks for particular screen resolution; aesthetics of design has become less important.

Website Design Precedes Content
It is still worth to know that the brain processes visual images about 10,000 times faster than artificially constructed sign systems, like written text. It means that the first impression of a page is always based on background and other design elements. You can leave first impression only once, which is why using decent design helps you to reduce bounce rate.

How to Reduce Bouncing and Pogo Sticking
Visitors doesn't appreciate old style on websites

Modern design is rather clean and straightforward. You should avoid design styles, which plague your website. Old-school examples are drop shadows behind texts, using cheap fonts, bevel and emboss, cheesy stock photos, to name just a few of them. If you haven’t designed at least 100 websites before, don’t do it yourself. Better hire a professional designer and you will save some time for other things you need to do, and you will get a good modern design without any hassle.


Simplify Site Structure and Navigation
Sometimes it may seem that all these scattered link menus and sloppy sidebars are there just for design. They are not. Most of the sites which have been around for a while, are suffering under overloaded navigation menus. It is only natural that a website grows in time, but from time to time you need to clean it up. It means making conscious choices about what is the most important and what should be available somewhere on deeper levels.


5 Simple Questions about Link Structure
Similarly to emphatic approach to content creation, you need to ask critical questions about site navigation. Here is a simple exercise that many website owners may not be aware of. Imagine a visitor arriving to your website from search engine results page. This is most likely a content page, which is somewhere deeper in site structure, a few clicks away from the homepage:

  1. Is it clear in which section the current page is located?
  2. What are the most important links in main menu?
  3. Which links are the most important in sidebar?
  4. What’s next after finishing reading the current page?

If you have answered all these four questions, then the fifth will be “Why do you need all this other stuff there?” and you may basically clean up all unnecessary links, which have lower priority. Believe it, you will have much cleaner picture afterwards. Most importantly, you will have much simpler site navigation and users are more likely to remain focused and click on links you left there.


Get Descent Web Hosting for Your Website
There is a great article about “How Web Hosting Server Speed Bear on Search Results” which describes the correlation between faster time on first byte and rank in Google. There is a huge difference in good web hosting and sluggish one, which works not only slowly, but has also more downtime. Spending $2 per month more on decent web hosting may be easily the best investment of your lifetime.


The main idea was that slow time on first byte indicates mostly cheaper web hosting servers, with sluggish maintenance, higher risk of slow hard drives, junked virtual memory, and overloaded RAM usage or network bottlenecks.


On the other hand, there isn’t a direct connection between search positions and time spent downloading a page. This was, perhaps, because users find copious content more useful and are willing to wait a little longer to see it.


Optimize Site Scripts and Output Code
Modern content management systems, especially their out-of-box versions, are very resource hungry. A typical Wordpress site has about 50 database tables, makes about 30 queries before site output is formed and sent to user. The risk of jamming your hosting server is the reason why Google doesn’t send you more visitors than your web hosting server is able to serve.


It is very easy to see how Google crawler measures your website downloading speed under Crawling Stats in Google Webmaster Tools Console. Reducing page size, time until first byte as well as page download time are important quality parameters, which help Google to save their resources and give you a slight boost in search rankings.


Users Love Fast Websites
Let’s leave Google crawling systems and resource hungry fetching aside and think for a moment about user experience your site offers to your visitors. Which site would you prefer?

  • The site which opens with a blink of an eye, all links are responding to clicks nearly instantly, or
  • The website, which doesn’t show anything but blank screen for the first 6 seconds, then something appears, but heavy background graphic crawls for another 15 seconds.

Most users like faster sites. Statistics show that users prefer websites with page download time less than 0,4 seconds – they stay there for longer, browse more pages and, more likely, share links in social media.

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How to Reduce Bouncing

How to Reduce Bouncing

Short bounces aren't good for rankings In this article, we take a closer look at the meaning of bouncing and pogo sticking, how they differ from each other and what are the most typical reasons for shifty user behavior After defining the bounce rate and pogo sticking, we will also describe how to reduce bouncing and to guide users towards longer clicks – make them read your content for a while and browse more pages during their visits Your website has a decent amount of visitors, but the majority of them is just peeking for a few seconds and leaving without reading anything in the pages. This indicates high bounce rate and, possibly, pogo sticking.

How to Reduce Bouncing and Pogo Sticking © 2015 W4H Web Hosting Ltd. 118 Franklin St, Boston, MA 02110-1515 USA