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Robyn Hardman, Digital Consultant

Robyn Hardman, Digital Consultant

Craving Mobile Success? Time to Banish the Pop-Ups

It’s time to get your pop-ups under control, as Google starts to impose search penalties on websites that feature intrusive interstitials, which prevent your users from accessing the content they want to see.

As part of its quest to shift to a ‘mobile-first’ approach, Google’s first action of the year will be to penalise the rankings of websites that constantly feature what it calls “intrusive interstitials” – pop-ups that make it difficult for mobile users to view the content on a page. Google detailed what it considered to be intrusive in the diagram below:

Intrusive interstitials and mobile pop-ups, Mighty blog, Cheltenham

While this will have a huge impact on advertisers utilising full-screen mobile pop-ups, it may also cause potential issues for well-meaning businesses aiming to provide useful information to their users. Pop-ups that take over the whole page may be considered problematic, even if companies are aiming to help the user experience.

Therefore, it’s good to know that Google doesn’t consider every pop-up to be a problem. Pop-ups that cover a legal obligation – such as cookie usage or age verification – are acceptable, as well as login dialogs for sites that don’t have public content. Admittedly, these functional pop-ups were never the problem in the first place, so it’s great news that Google is also happy for smaller banners to remain in place, as long as they take up a “reasonable amount” of screen space and can be easily dismissed.

Acceptable mobile pop-ups according to Google, Mighty blog, Cheltenham

Let’s be honest, nobody’s a fan of pop-ups that they can’t easily get rid of, whether they’re meant to be helpful or not. User experience should always be at the heart of any website – after all, your website’s not for you! The key is to ensure a balance between getting the point across and giving the user control over their browsing experience.

Google’s pop-up penalties will begin on Tuesday 10 January, and are just part of the criteria that the search engine giant uses to rank websites. However, with a huge focus on improving the mobile experience in 2017, we’re sure to see even more changes like this that could negatively impact on your rankings – so make sure you’re prepared!

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# SEO, Mobile, Advertising, Google