Posted by randfish
Getting your site to display at the top of a SERP is quite an accomplishment, but it also takes quite a bit of effort to keep it there. If people click through to your site only to click their back buttons and look for another result, the search engines are going to catch on, and you could fall in the rankings.
In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand helps us broaden our thinking to satisfy the searchers and keep them from pogo-sticking back to the SERP.
Whiteboard Friday – Solving the Pogo-Stick Problem
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For reference, here’s a still image of this week’s whiteboard:
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today I want to talk to you about the pogo-sticking problem.
So here’s the story. Basically search engines, Google included, use a lot of different kinds of data for their ranking algorithms, but one of the pieces that’s in there, we don’t know exactly how big it might be, but it’s certainly possible that it’s sizeable, is what’s called pogo sticking. They measure this feature or this occurrence where someone performs a search. I performed a search here for IT consultants, and there are a few listings that come up. I click on “IT Boston.” It takes me to IT Boston’s website, and then I decide, maybe in the first five or ten seconds, “You know what? This site is not solving my problem. This isn’t really what I wanted,” and I go right back to the same search result.
Either I click back or I search for it again or I search for something different, and then I go and click on other results. Maybe I click on this “Is IT Consulting Dead?” It’s sort of a link bait article from some news source, BuzzFeed maybe, click on that, go to that page, and I stay on it and I don’t come back to the search result.
Google measures these kinds of things. So does Bing. They measure this pogo-sticking, and they come up with essentially, this is a very simplistic representation of what actually happens, but X% of people pogo stick away from IT Boston in their first 5 seconds of visiting the site, Y% do it for this BuzzFeed page, and Z% do it for IT 101. We’re going to calculate some average, the average pogo-sticking as sorted and weighted by the ranking position for this particular search result.
Here’s the problem. For every search result, there’s some different pogo-sticking rate. But great pages and sites tend to have the trait that they’ve got really low pogo-sticking rates. If IT Boston is a great result, people click it and they stay. Their search query has been satisfied. Google likes that. That means that a searcher is made happy, and they’re not coming back and doing other searches and clicking other results. Sometimes this might be okay. Maybe there are some sorts of searches where Google says, “Oh, lots of people do click multiple times, and lots of people do bounce back and forth and it’s fine.” But for the vast majority of searches this is really important to get right. So I have some tactical tips for you.
If you’ve got a pogo-sticking problem, a high bounce rate, people are going back to the search results, clicking on your competitors’ links, that kind of thing, the number one thing you can do is get in the searcher’s head. This is different, might be different from getting in your customer’s head. You might say, “Hey, we’ve designed this excellent landing page. It’s really focused. If the 10% of people who search, who are our kind of customers, come to this page, they’re going to convert.”
The challenge there is you’ve got to think bigger. You have to think about all the searchers, the 90% of the searchers who may not be your customer and how do you answer their query, because otherwise you’re probably going to be falling in those search results. What questions do those people have? What makes them engage versus leave? What is it, when this person performs a search, that they want to know? And if you don’t know, you can ask.
One of my top recommendations for people who have just kind of a crummy page is, “I want you to go out and survey people in your office, people who work with you, people who are long-time customers, people who are in your network. I want you to survey them, and I want you to ask them, ‘Imagine you have performed a search for X. Tell me the first, most important thing you’re looking for. Now tell me the second thing that you’d probably be interested in, and now tell me the third thing.’ ” People will just free-form leave a couple phrases or sentences in those boxes, send it back to you. Boom. Now you know what people want. If you don’t have that sort of searcher empathy built into your head already, you can do it this way, through the surveying system, and then you can make a page that people are going to love. You can answer those questions.
Number two, I see a lot of search results out there that are missing design and UX elements that are critical to success. If you’ve got this crappy, crummy 1990s design aesthetic going on or even a more updated thing, but it’s just not a very usable website, the navigation’s poor, the images are poor, the content quality is poor, you’ve got to work on that. If you can’t say with conviction that you have the highest quality, most usable, beautiful, high visual-quality page in the results, get to work man. Get to work. This stuff is really important.
If you’re looking, by the way, one of my top suggestions is to check out Dribbble.com. That’s D-r-i-b-b-b-l-e.com. Wonderful designers are available on there. Some of them are very expensive. Some of them are less expensive. Great resource to check out.
Number three, the last thing I’ll mention on tactical tips for this is load speed and device support. A lot of times I do see this problem where someone goes to a page and then after two or three seconds if something hasn’t loaded, they go back. You can work on this. Even if you have a relatively robust page, you can get elements to load in those critical first second, second and a half time frames. Check out developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed. They’ve got an analysis tool and a system you can walk through to make sure that that works.
You should also be multi-device compliant. Make sure that if you don’t have responsive design, you at least have a mobile-friendly site, an iPad-friendly site. I do love responsive design. I recommend it. But this becomes a challenge too, because remember, if lots of people are searching on mobile and they’re bouncing back because your page is slow or it doesn’t work with a mobile device, you’re in trouble. Those stats are going to hurt you in the results.
All right, everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.
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