Does your website include pop-ups when people open it on a mobile device? Prepare to see your Google ranking affected negatively.
If you have a web page, you know that Google has complex algorithms for determining where yours ranks in online searches. If your site isn’t heavily searched and visited – and even if it is – search engine optimization (SEO) is a big deal for your visibility. Many businesses have seen their sites drop in ranking and become harder to find due to competition in SEO and also due to a glut of ‘noise’ sites that end up dominating searches.
With people using mobile devices more than ever, the first step toward better search ranking was optimizing a site for mobile, especially ensuring people didn’t have to zoom text when opening on a phone. Now mobile has been dealing with a flood of advertising pop-ups. Google’s new criteria will punish sites that include mobile pop-ups and banners that cover up content.
It’s good news for users.
What is to be Penalized?
Google decided that mobile pop-up ads go against its mission of trying to make content as accessible as possible.
Here are a few examples of ads that can make content less accessible:
- A pop-up that covers the important content of the page, either immediately after a person lands on it from search results, or as they look through the page.
- Interstitials like banners and verification pop-ups that a user must click away or must answer a question before gaining access to content.
- Having a page layout where content is partially overlayed and grayed out, so you can see only a small portion. It doesn’t matter if it appears immediately or after scrolling down a little.
Of Course, You Can Still Have Mobile Pop-ups, But…
…expect to see your search engine ranking fall on Google. It’s a choice. Just know that users find them annoying and Google is listening.
Not All Are Penalized – “Reasonable” Banner Ads Are OK
Not every pop-up or overlay is a no-no in Google’s book. Of course, login dialog boxes are OK. That includes for email or content behind a paywall.
Google has declared that banners and such can take up “a reasonable amount of screen space” without penalty. That’s pretty vague, so it’s really up to Google’s discretion. Just remember that Google’s purpose in this is to help user experience.
It’s also still OK to have an interstitial for legal obligations, like for verifying a user’s age or for cookies.
When in Doubt, Check it Out
Is your website guilty of pop-up practices that could diminish its ranking? Mobile pop-ups constitute one of many signals that affect Google’s ranking system, so the punishment may not be huge, but could be significant. Just know it could be a determining factor if Google is deciding between two similar sites.
It can tough for busy people to keep up with SEO changes and search algorithms that change hundreds of times every year. Your best idea would be to have your website checked over by dedicated web developers and marketing specialists. What have you got to lose? Except maybe customers who are annoyed with intrusive pop-ups on their mobile devices.
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