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Return-to-SERPs Clicks: The Biggest Search Diss

  • Amy Hunt 
Cursor clicking on a browser back button

After all that hard work to push your site up the rankings, you want to make sure that visitors arriving on your site don’t hit the back button. This month we’ve been joined by Content Muse Anthony Pensabene, sharing tips how to avoid those dreaded return-to-SERP clicks. Take it away Muse!

Search Riddle

What came first – the clicking or the paying customer?  The paying customer must have been first to do the clicking, but perhaps they became paying customers due to the clicking?  It.Is.Complicated.

Bounce Rate Good or Bad?

It’s difficult to place positive and negative labels on browser behavior.  Consider bounce rates; good if the consumer is approaching a purchase, and bad if the consumer is looking for another means to satisfy a need.

SEO and CRO facilitate best-case scenarios; the former ensures engines alert users of brand pages while the latter prompts buyer action.

What’s the worst-case scenario regarding both above methods of online marketing?  More importantly (considering user behavior) what’s worse than desertion, as if a wrong turn was made?

How do webmasters avoid return-to-SERP clicks?

Bounce rates are important, but what’s more revealing is the reason for them.  If a person leaves due to a completed transaction or question answered, that’s great.  However, if a browser leaves a page, returning to the original query, it likely means the page did not satiate intention, which is bad.

Bad: Return-to-SERP Clicks

We want to gain the trust and return visits of browsers.  It’s difficult enough to get noticed; moreso, it’s crucial to stay in the market’s memory to stand a chance within your niche.

Facilitate more interactions and longer visits.  Impressions matter; don’t allow web pages to dissatisfy your visitors.  Address a solution, or help visitors get closer to an answer.  How can we avoid return-to-SERP clicks?

Meta Tags

Grab attention at the beginning of the search.

Consumers use word-of-mouth prompts and social proof to make decisions.  Why not use social proof in meta descriptions?  Display positive signals and sentiments of real-life consumers.

Use positive statements from Yelp reviews.  Call attention to social proof rather than obvious and expected advertising, such as:

Social proof in the SERPS

‘Threadless’ brand descriptions, seen above and self-described as “super soft” and “nifty,” could be detailed using the semantics of brand advocates.

 Create a search widget


If consumers are influenced by peers and advocates, show real-life accolades within advertising space.


Influencers, recognized members within a niche, help spread awareness regarding movements, products, services, other personalities, etc.

Influencers foreword

Chris Brogan tweet

Have an influential member of your society get involved in the pre-production phase, having them write a foreword or review.

Jon Cooper had several celebrated members of the link building community survey his to-be released course, later helping with market reception.

Jon Cooper testimonials

(Use part of the foreword as a page’s meta tag description.)

If users are influenced by recognized community members, invite the latter to help influence your market from the start.


From a macro perspective, users exact search engines due to an informational need or desire for entertainment.  Assuming each page does not prompt a desired call to action or next step in the sales funnel, what alternative (but helpful) purposes might it serve?  Is there a ‘plan B,’ regarding user journey and avoidance of a return-to-serp click?

Offer niche-related tools and resources from brand pages.  Consider publishing a price-comparison tool, blog roll, list of relevant resources, calling attention to reasons to stay on your brand’s domain.

The Department of Labor hosts a useful site, which is not only informative itself but valuable as a resource hosting links to other sites.  Find information by topic or audience; get new on training; learn about laws and regulations; view statistics; etc. Create the same experience for your niche.

 US department of Labor stats

Consider user personas.  What other information may prompt attention aside from initial intent? (For example, a wood supplier may have resource pages related to D.I.Y projects, guitars, home heating, etc.)

Wood selections searches

If users search with an intent, there’s reason to be flexible in meeting their intent.  If you’re immediate service/product is not the answer, help browsers meet their search intent; helping has long-term effects.

Serial Intent of Content

Content marketing introduces a variety of messages, facilitating brand-related impressions.  Branding is difficult to quantify, but quality endeavors create life-long advocates and exponential word-of-mouth (social proof) opportunities.

What types of serial content may brands produce?


Covering a certain niche or industry, hosting a variety of FAQs and related information encapsulates long-tail queries and serves on-site users in their quest.

Create expectation regarding curation or coverage of your niche.

Autocomplete - everything you need to know


Storytelling is often raised in relation to content marketing; viewers, readers, listeners are captivated by stories of all kinds.  Diaries are personal stories and views, told in first-person, often successful in print mediums.  One can also share personal stories and questions of others.

Dear Annnie letters

The reader has a number of chances to relate to an author offering messages, opinions, and observed truths and reflection.


Newspaper comics, a break in the seriousness of real-time news, offer little text compared to adjacent stories yet remain staples of newspapers, withstanding the test of time and user engagement.

 What inspired Moz's Roger

It’s the characters as well as the experience of being engrossed in an ongoing story we love.

Holy catchphrase Batman

Problem Solver

What’s one of the best problem-solver tools (aside from the human brain)?  It’s a calculator, solving problems since its digital inception.  It’s branded as a go-to resource, much like modern-day search engines regarding semantically-related problems.

Have you answered questions?  Ensure visitors understand your level of expertise.  Build and curate your own FAQ page.

Here is an example of a wood-related word cloud.  Depending on offered services, the webmaster may pivot content production, writing upon a number of near-related topics, preserving on-page time and securing future visits.

 Wood related word cloud

Do people have questions regarding a particular service or product?  Become a third-party purveyor of public opinion, or craft your own reviews.

 Quora request reviews

If semantic search, the asking and answering of letter-based queries is here to stay, assume the need to host repeat offenders.  Create a digital environment of serial content and visits.


What came first?  It doesn’t matter.  Now, we know how to tempt more clicks, and once visitors cross the threshold, we have implementations to keep them staying longer and coming back more often.

Sometimes bounce rate is a good thing, propelling users toward a final sale.  However, returning to the SERs is assumed to be a negative parcel of feedback, telling webmasters the property does not help, whether it’s:

  • Improperly aligned with keywords and associated phrases
  • Hosting poor user experience (The answer is present, but user is not prompted well enough to find it.)
  • Gives limited or ineffective information or associated service (fails to deliver on meta tag’s promise).

Further Reading:

A little bit about Anthony:

Anthony Pensabene and William Shakespeare

If you have never bumped into Anthony somewhere online then you have probably only read one post about our industry this year (if you are reading this it also means it was this one – well done!).

Anthony looks is community manager over at SkyrocketSEO and also shares his wit and wisdom on his own blog.

Along with some other smart fellas – and Patrick Hathaway – he keeps bar at The Saloon of Literature. In keeping with the western theme they have cleverly made sure that they haven’t posted there for a while. There is now an inch of dust on the bar, the rats are scuttling around -lapping up the last dregs of whisky and the piano is well and truly drunk.

Connect with Anthony on Twitter (although he tells me he is taking a break from this – I’ve got a fiver on him being active by the time this post goes out).  If you want to see him sharing picture of his dad playing golf or ducks surfing you can catch him on Google Plus

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt

Amy started out as a Digital Marketing Executive here at Boom in late 2016, graduating in 2018 to Digital Marketing Client Manager and then to Head of Outreach & Digital PR at the beginning of 2021. Amy works on various digital marketing projects for different clients, focusing on SEO, content marketing and outreach.View Author posts

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