Solving the Pogo Stick Problem Whiteboard Friday Moz

Solving the Pogo Stick Problem Whiteboard Friday Moz

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 That’s 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 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.

David Anderson

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1 thought on “Solving the Pogo Stick Problem Whiteboard Friday Moz

  1. Becky Embers says:

    I would love to know how you would rate my UX and design at my website – I wish I knew why my website has to fight so hard to rank.

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