Are mobile popups hurting your website’s Google ranking?

2 MINS Team

Popup ads or alerts (also known as interstitials) can be useful tools for small business owners trying to get visitors to take action on their websites. Whether you’re asking users to sign up for your newsletter, stay on your website instead of clicking away, or serving up an ad, popups can be highly effective in achieving your goals. However, there are some important things you need to know to keep mobile popups on your website from hurting your Google ranking.

In the past year, Google has made a lot of changes reflecting the increasing growth in mobile search. For example, it started adding a mobile-friendly label to search results, and then began giving greater prominence in search results to mobile-friendly websites. Now, the search engine giant is cracking down on intrusive mobile popups.

You’ve probably experienced this as a mobile user yourself. You navigate to a website, only to be blocked from viewing by a giant popup. It’s frustrating and annoying — especially if you’re in a rush to get information, such as looking up the address of a business while you’re in your car. Your website visitors feel the same. That’s why, starting after January 10, 2017, pages with popups that make it hard to access content may hurt your website’s ranking in search results.

Of course, not all popups are created equal. Google is defining intrusive mobile popups as those that cover the main content and require the user to scroll down or dismiss them to get to the content they’ve searched for. However, if the popup covers a limited amount of screen space or if it’s easy to dismiss, it’s acceptable.

You can also use popups to direct website visitors’ attention to information that you are required by law to collect or share. For instance, the owner of a craft brewery might ask website visitors to confirm that they’re over the legal drinking age before visiting the site. An ecommerce website might use popups to alert website visitors that the site uses cookies to track their browsing behavior.

For sample illustrations of what both intrusive and acceptable popups look like, visit the Google blog.

Of course, popups won’t be the only or even the most important factor in your search results ranking. However, given the stiff competition to rank high in Google’s search results, it’s a good idea to make sure that your mobile popups comply with the search engine’s standards. Combined with useful content, good SEO and a mobile-friendly website, making this change will give your site a better chance of coming out tops when people search online for what you sell.

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