SEO: What is Pogo Sticking?

If you’ve ever read the term “pogo-sticking” in SEO or marketing articles, you’ve probably figured out that it’s not as entertaining as it sounds – at least not by this definition.  Google coined the term “pogo-sticking” in SEO. It refers to what happens when a user enters your site from a search engine results page […]
SIA Team
May 17, 2023

If you’ve ever read the term “pogo-sticking” in SEO or marketing articles, you’ve probably figured out that it’s not as entertaining as it sounds – at least not by this definition. 

Google coined the term “pogo-sticking” in SEO. It refers to what happens when a user enters your site from a search engine results page (SERP) and then exits your page, returning to the SERPs. They then proceed to the next result or a different website. 

In SEO, this is the absolute worst-case scenario. It’s worse than having a high bounce rate, a low time spent on page, or any of the other metrics you’ve been told to be concerned about.

Why? Because it implies that your content does not satisfy the user’s search query that they had found and clicked on from the search results. If you have too many pogo-sticking incidents, Google and other search engines will quickly downgrade your site to a lower result.

To make it simple, pogo-sticking is a search engine optimization term that describes a situation in which a searcher quickly navigates back and forth between different pages in search results.

Is Google, however, penalizing pogo-sticking and should you be concerned? This article will teach you the following:

  • What causes pogo-sticking?
  • Why is Pogo sticking Important?
  • Will pogo sticking cause a drop in rank?
  • Best Practices To Avoid Pogo Sticking

You don’t need an advanced page layout strategy or compelling calls to action to prevent pogo-sticking on your website. While these elements may be beneficial, you should be aware that the only way to effectively stop pogo-sticking is to provide a meaningful answer that solves someone’s problem or answers their question, content that satisfies the intent of the searcher, and a site that works well (no slow loading sites or error pages!)

Consider how people arrive at your website: What types of search queries are you ranking for? What are people thinking when they type these queries into search engines?

If your website provides the best answer to a specific question or solves a problem better than anyone else’s, you will most likely have the lowest pogo-sticking rate.

Your page must offer unique types of value that other pages do not. However, it must also provide the appropriate level of value. If someone searches for a “hotel in california” and your page is all about the hotel industry in california, you’ll get a lot of people who come to your website and then leave as it simply is not what the user is looking for.

The most important thing you can do when developing your site’s content is to focus on satisfying the visitor’s intent for the search and providing them great value.

What Causes Pogo-sticking?

What Causes Pogo-sticking

Pogo-sticking can be caused by a variety of factors. Please keep in mind that not all of them are the result of poor content or poor UX (user experience).

Clickbait Content

A searcher enters a site that overpromises and under-delivers, in this scenario. To put it another way, the searcher comes across clickbait content that hooks them in the title or description but then does not provide the content promised.

Here are some that we usually see in different web content and then regretted clicking on: “You’ll Never Believe This (…),”, “Do This One Thing for 2 Weeks and (…),”, “They Don’t Want You to Know This (…),” and so on. When we do, we feel duped, and “pogo” back to the SERP.

Buried Or Locked Information

In a few words, even though the information may be present, the searcher is unable to locate it. The issue is that the information is buried beneath mountains of text, obscured by jargon, or is simply unavailable to some users.

A similar thing occurs when content is restricted to registered users or is hidden behind an “email wall”. The website may be good and provide the information the searcher requires. However, because it is not immediately available, the searcher ends up returning to the SERP.

Poor UX

In this case, the searcher is immediately frustrated (or suspicious) by the site’s appearance and functionality, so they return to the safety of the SERP.

Just like pop-ups, not only does the website load slowly, but there is also an annoying interstitial pop-up.

Note that poor user experience can be caused by a variety of factors, including; Slow site performance; Annoying ads; Sign-up forms that are overly aggressive and cover the content; Perplexing website design; The website being not mobile-friendly.

The Searcher Is Just Browsing Around

Pogo-sticking can also occur when a searcher is simply browsing and does not intend to stay on one page for an extended period. They could be looking for ideas, comparing prices, or trying to remember a website they saw the other day.

Other Reasons For Pogo Sticking

Consider the following scenario to further demonstrate the complexities of scenarios that can result in pogo-sticking. Assume you were told that you could use WD40 to keep car door seals from freezing in the winter. Logically, you should confirm that information. So you look it up.

Reading the descriptions under the blue links reveals that the searcher receives a variety of results. This may “trigger” pogo-sticking for a variety of reasons. And, in some cases, it may be Google’s fault.

Why Is Pogo Sticking Important?

Importance of pogo sticking

Pogo sticking is quite strong indicator that users are dissatisfied with the results.

The most important thing to understand about pogo-sticking is that it is one of the most important ranking factors. Most search engines are concerned with two factors: relevancy and trustworthiness. Backlinks and reviews convey trustworthiness, whereas relevance is assumed based on several factors.

Pogo-sticking is one of these factors. How can a site’s content be relevant if users visit it and then go elsewhere for answers? In some cases, marketing and search engine optimization professionals consider pogo-sticking to be the most important of all ranking factors.

It’s difficult to say that this is the definitive answer because only high-ranking results receive SERP clicks in the first place. Pogo-sticking has no chance of becoming relevant unless the site is in the top results that users click on when doing a search. However, once your result climbs high enough in the SERPs, you can expect pogo-sticking to take over as a primary ranking factor. Why? Because almost every single result on page one for a search query with any volume has relevant backlinks and content. Pogo-sticking must be considered to determine which is most relevant.

Best Practices Against Pogo Sticking

Best practices against pogo sticking

The following are the best practices that you can do to avoid pogo-sticking:

  • Fix site UX, also on mobile 
  • Keep your site fast 
  • Use the inverted pyramid method 
  • Use clear formatting and visual elements 
  • Use relevant internal links
  • Demonstrate E-A-T 
  • Keep content up to date

Fix Site UX, Also On Mobile 

It’s not necessary that every website have a winning design that can top design contests. Keep things simple and not distracting if you want to provide the best experience for the reader. Everything that isn’t the exact content that the searcher is looking for should be helpful to the reading experience and should be information that are related and could provide more information about what they are searching for. This means that unrelated and non-relevant content should stay out of the way.

Fixing the UI (user-interface) is a direct way to improve the UX of your website. 

Removing pop-ups, including sign-up forms, exit forms, that covers the main content and is difficult to exit from should be removed. Do the same for any banners that cause the layout to change. Then make sure the layout of your website is clear, consistent, and usable. This is especially important for navigation. It’s wonderful to have a well-designed website. It is more important, however, not to overburden the user’s cognitive capacity with elements that serve no practical purpose.

Of course, you have to optimize your website for mobile devices. Mobile device traffic accounts for slightly more than half of all website traffic. Furthermore, Google indexes and ranks content based on mobile versions of websites (mobile-first indexing) too.

Keep Your Site Fast

Fast loading site means happy visitors. Who wants to wait for a website to load?

Remember, some visitors will simply leave your site if it takes too long to load or is slow, in general. If there are competitors who provide faster content, some people will most likely go for the faster loading sites and close the slow pages. And in this race, every second counts, so better watch out!

Page speed is also one of Google’s ranking factors so if you want your content to rank high in SERPs, you must make your content available to users as fast as possible. 

Is your page loading longer than 3 seconds and need help with speeding up your site? Check out our page speed optimization article.

Use The Inverted Pyramid Method

Inverted pyramid method

Just like in journalism and when writing news, the inverted pyramid is the best method that you can use. It prioritizes the “most important details” over the “supplemental information,” which will help your readers find information more quickly rather than scanning the whole article just to find that they need.

The more that your visitor gets the answer, it will enhance their user experience as well as it will improve your dwell time. 

Use Clear Formatting And Visual Elements

Take note that visual impact plays a big role in keeping and attracting visitors to your website. It will also help them to understand your content better than everyone else. 

How do you do this? 

  • Keep each line to no more than 85 characters.
  • Paragraphs should be no more than three to four sentences long.
  • Break up long blocks of text, use lists, and bullet points.
  • Make use of a legible font.
  • Use a font color that stands out against the background.

Use Relevant Internal Links

Some search queries are intended to solve a single problem quickly. Others are the start of a complex topic’s learning journey. And in most cases, such a topic cannot be covered in a single piece of content. You can create a whole series of content and interlink it to guide the user in the right direction for these types of queries. This way, you keep your visitor longer on your site, too, browsing and reading through different pages and content of your site.

Demonstrate E-A-T

E-A-T is an acronym that stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. It comes from Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, which are used by human quality raters to evaluate the quality of Google’s search results.

E-A-T is a term from the world of SEO. When it comes to content, demonstrating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness is always a good idea. It tells the user that your content is worth reading or watching. It’s even more critical if your content is focused on YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics like money, health, and safety.

But what exactly does it mean to demonstrate E-A-T?

  • Expertise refers to a high level of knowledge or skill in a specific field. To put it another way, it refers to content created by a subject matter expert. If you want to demonstrate this, have content created by experts. You can hire them or accept guest posts from experts in their fields.
  • Authoritarianism is about reputation, particularly among other industry experts and influencers. There is no other option but to demonstrate your credentials. Consider your professional experience, academic credentials, attendance at well-known conferences, and so on.
  • The legitimacy, transparency, and accuracy of the website and its content are all aspects of trustworthiness. Simply put, you should double-check your facts and keep your content current.

Keep Content Up To Date

Some queries require more freshness than others. After all, who wants the best headphones from 2011 when they can have the best from this year?

If your readers expect fresh content, updating your content once a year (or more frequently) is a good idea. This is a strategy that can be repeated year after year.


Now that you know what pogo-sticking is, it’s importance in SEO and rank, and the different tips on how to avoid visitors from pogo sticking and leaving your site, you should be able to make site and content improvements that would help keep visitors sticking to your site and visiting through other content on it.

Need help with how to set up SEO Content Strategy or tips on the Content Creation Process? Check out our articles in SEOIntel!