Are you still using pop ups on the mobile version of your blog or website? As of January 10th 2017 this could be harming your search ranking. Whether it is advertising, inviting visitors to subscribe, or any other call to action – if it covers more than a tiny portion of your page content, you need to get rid of it.
On the 10th January 2017 Google updated their search algorithms to include one additional factor. From that date, Google’s algorithm downgrades websites that use pop up content on the mobile version of their site. It is worth mentioning that it is only one factor of many in the entire algorithm. It doesn’t mean that your site will disappear from search overnight. However, if two similarly ranking websites are competing for a position in search, the one that doesn’t use pop ups will now win the battle. That is worth paying attention to.
Google’s update specifically downgrades websites with intrusive interstitials. What on earth is an ‘intrusive interstitial’ you say? Intrusive interstitials are pages that show between your click to visit a site, and the actual page you are trying to reach. For example, an ad that covers the content of a page you are trying to view.Why you need to stop using pop ups on mobile sites #GoogleUpdate #PopUps Click To Tweet
Google’s definition of an intrusive interstitial includes:
- “Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.”
Why have Google banned pop ups?
“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible”
This is all about user experience, and ultimately Google’s bottom line. Google is paid by thousands of businesses for placing display adverts on websites. Web users that find adverts of any kind frustrating use ad blocker software to remove it from web pages they visit. In doing this, Google’s ad revenue is harmed. Pop ups inviting people to buy something at a discount or sign up to an email list can be irritating. Therefore, more people use ad blockers software to remove this irritation, and fewer people click on paid for adverts served by Google.
Not all pop ups are affected
This update isn’t drawing a blanket ban on pop ups that are used for sign up or advert purposes, or any other purpose for that matter. If a banner is small, easy to dismiss and doesn’t interfere with users being able to access the content of your website, then it is fine to use. What is a small pop up I hear you ask? Google have defined it as a pop up that uses a “reasonable amount of space”. Helpful. According to a those in the know, 15% of the page real estate is a safe bet.
What about non-mobile pages?
This change only affects visits to a website made on a mobile device (think mobile phones or tablets). You are safe to continue using pop ups when your site is viewed from a computer. Whether you should is another matter entirely.
Ultimately, if you want a successful website, you should design your site from a user experience point of view. Even if your website ranks highly and is easy to find, if your user experience is poor you’ll find your website traffic bouncing and not coming back. So when thinking about using pop ups on your site, consider if your users will find it irritating or off-putting. I don’t think there is a clear rule here. If I hit a site on desktop to read a blog I find interesting and a gigantic pop up with a sarcastic message pops up, I’m more likely to just quit and leave the site.
But sometimes I’ll hit a page, get halfway through a blog and then a small and unobtrusive box will appear to the right of the text I’m reading inviting me to sign up to the blog updates. I’ve been known to fill this out. It’s not disrupting my reading, and I’m finding the blog useful, why wouldn’t I sign up to get more posts from this website?
Use pop ups wisely, and avoid them on mobile, and you’ll find your website continues to rank highly. You’ll also have more engaged website visitors who are more likely to share your content.