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Google Announces Lowering Website Rankings for Sites Using Intrusive Mobile Pop-Ups

IMEG - The Trusted Agency for the Tourism & Hospitality Industry / Search Engine Optimization  / Google Announces Lowering Website Rankings for Sites Using Intrusive Mobile Pop-Ups
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Google Announces Lowering Website Rankings for Sites Using Intrusive Mobile Pop-Ups

In late August 2016, Google announced they will lower the ranking of websites using intrusive pop-ups and interstitials starting on January 10, 2017. We have compiled some helpful information for our clients running our SASS Capture. We want to make sure you understand the details and how to handle this.

85% of all websites are now mobile-friendly. Even though we think this number is high, we will roll with it because it seems like Google’s definition of mobile-friendly is different than ours. By using their own tool such as https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/, we have tested many sites that are mobile and they say it is not and we have tested some that are not mobile and they say it is. While this is a great tool, is this data really accurate at 85%? Here at IMEG, we hate lazy numbers and 85% is a nice, even number, so it makes us doubt the accuracy even more. Regardless, we do 100% agree with Google that these mobile pop-ups should be a concern for the user experience.

Google states that in January 2017 they will be ranking sites that contain annoying or intrusive content lower in mobile search results. There are hundreds of factors that Google uses to determine the rank of a website, such as keyword, industry, geography and many other variables that make up the algorithm that ranks websites in SERP.

Google’s announcement indicates that relevant content will remain one of the most important factors when ranking websites. More importantly, Google won’t punish all websites with mobile pop-ups because some pop-ups are great for the user experience. Let’s take a look and see what types of pop-ups will lower your ranking starting in January and which types you can continue to use on your site.

Which mobile interstitials and pop-ups will lower my mobile ranking with Google in January 2017?

Google states any pop-up or interstitial that disrupts the user by appearing after entering the site or after some looking around will lower mobile ranking. We still feel this is very vague as some of these help user experience. Most legitimate sites are using these for things like “welcome to the site, sign up for our email newsletter and get 20% off your first purchase.” I do this every time. Who does not want to save 20% on their first order? So, I like this as part of the user experience. The other thing Google states will have impact is any pop-up or interstitial that covers the entire screen making it difficult to access content. We agree with Google that these are annoying unless they are set up with exit intent and not just loading because the page loaded.

Some negative examples that Google does NOT want to see being used by a mobile site:

Examples of pop-up ads

What kind of pop-ups/interstitials will be allowed by Google?

Until January 2017, you can use anything you want, but we don’t think you should wait until then to start making changes. Google will probably index before that date, like they have on things in the past, so we recommend you remove these by December 1, 2016. From January 2017 and moving forward, we recommend the following:

  • Never cover the entire screen unless it is used in part with asking a visitor to accept a cookie or other regulation. Then, use them after that only if it really enhances user experience.
  • You can use them as login dialogues.
  • Allow space to still view content and make them easy to close.

Here are some solutions that are OK to use with the new Google mobile pop-up rules in 2017:

Example of pop-up ads that are allowed on mobile

Until December, there is nothing you need to do. At some point from December 1,  2016 to January 2017, you need to make sure your pop-ups and interstitials are not too intrusive and do not cover the majority of the page on mobile. You could set up new ones for specifically for mobile or just do not show on mobile altogether. Being that most traffic these days is mobile, not showing on mobile is probably going to have impact on your end goal with your pop-ups and interstitials.

Google's objective with this is to regulate spammers. Google's approach has always sounded like an  “all or nothing” approach in most cases, but, in actuality, it never is that way. One example of this is: in September 2012, Google launched a filter for exact match domains. We still see today, in 2016, many poor quality sites that still rank in top 10 on Google only due to exact match domain. We say all of this to say that Google sometimes says one thing and does another; we don't blame them. They have to be vague and broad due to so many variables at hand and all of these changes are really to prevent spam, the enemy of Google's massive enterprise. We believe the user experience is everything.

Key Takeaways

  • Make your user experience great for the user, not for you
  • Be sure your pop-ups and interstitials serve good purposes
  • Make sure your pop-ups and interstitials never cover an entire page on mobile (or the majority of a page)

To learn more about Capture SASS, go to http://www.imegonline.com. Capture helps you convert more of your website traffic into customers within minutes.

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