Search engines have evolved. Content created for people is now rewarded, which is great news for your brand. It means no more time wasted on dubious SEO workarounds like superfluous keyword-stuffed listicles that detract from your brand and fail to serve your audience. Now you can focus on creating a helpful, compelling experience for your user—and search engines will support your efforts by helping your audience find you.
But what happens when your visitors find your website, but not what they’re looking for? User intent is now a benchmark of SEO ranking. When someone visits your site and decides it’s not for them, they click the Back button. This on-and-off behavior is called pogosticking, and search engines have learned to track it. Essentially, if you’ve misled a user to click on your site or a site visitor has landed on a page that doesn’t meet their needs, your search rankings are penalized because engines like Google will interpret this bounce back as the user failing to find what they want based on their search terms.
So what’s the solution? Fortunately, you can prevent pogosticking by the time-honored best practices of good design and valuable, well-planned content. This thoughtfulness takes time.
The first step starts with your site’s architecture. When we approach User Experience and Information Architecture with our clients we ask them to think of where users are landing: the Homepage, the About Us page for branded keywords, Product Detail pages, etc. We want to make sure the purpose of the site and its services are obvious from the get-go. Site structure should quickly offer visitors an overview of the page’s purpose and content—ensuring your audience that, yes, they’ve come to the right place. When newspapers reigned, this practice was known as putting headlines above the fold: place informative headlines right up front so that people will unfold—or scroll—and keep reading.
Once the site and page structure is in place, we will think about the content buckets as they relate to the site map. Our design will make sure that the content is highlighted, but we still need to ensure that the content on the page supports the users’ intent. Thoughtful and purposeful content will keeping people reading—and engaged.
So how do you if you are winning the pogosticking game? One way is to look at bounce rate. Bounce rate is no means a perfect measure of user intent, but it does provide an idea of how many users are only visiting that page and ‘bouncing’ from the site. From Google: “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). There are a number of factors that contribute to a high bounce rate. For example, users might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues.” I.E. This could be a flag that you are losing the pogosticking game. “Alternatively, users might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need on that one page, and had no need or interest in going to other pages.” This is why you have to be carefully using bounce rate as your source of truth when it comes to pogosticking.
We’re here to help. If you’re concerned about your website’s search performance or have heard that users aren’t finding what they are looking for on your site, we’d love to sit down and talk user experience and content strategy.