You might have heard that Google decided to start punishing sites that use annoying pop-up ads on mobile from January 2017 update. In this article, I will explain what are effects, pros and cons and alternative solution to these changes.
On August 23 - 2016, at webmaster central blog Google announced two changes to mobile search results. One of them was Google search is going to punish ranking of mobile pages that show intrusive interstitials (Popups or notifications).
What is the reason behind this update?
Many online readers hate disturbing ads and obtrusive banner ads. These ads hide most of content from mobile screen and I am sure everyone hates them. Almost EVERYONE!. Especially when browsing on a small display device.
Also google search engine goal is to help users to quickly find the best solutions to their queries, regardless of the device they’re using.
Taking these point into consideration they announced
"we’ve recently seen many examples where these pages show intrusive interstitials to users. While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result."
What will be the effects of this update?
- On Exit intent solutions providers
Many exit intent popup providers are not worried by this news at all. In fact, they are embracing this announcement. According to them, the more educated users are about best practices with popups, they more likely to choose their exit intent products.
- On Google rankings
Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.
Which mobile pages will get affected by this update
- showing a popup or notification that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are scrolling and reading through the page.
- Displaying a standalone popup that the user has to close before accessing the main content of the page.
- Using a layout like full-size banner which may not look like a popup, but the original content has been shown underneath the banner.
But what if you are am using age verification popup or cookie confirmation popup? Will they also get punished?
Wait! Google said that they’re smart enough to know not to punish mobile pages if the popup is an age verification popup or the Cookie Law popup. isn't that helpful and pretty smart?
Now the main question comes in.
What are alternative ways if popups are not used?
Google stated that Banners or slide-ins/ scroll-triggered boxes that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible will not be affected by new the update.
So solution is to replace annoying popups with scroll-triggered boxes. BUT...
What are scroll-triggered boxes or slide-ins?
These are like drawers that roll up discreetly towards the end or top of your mobile screen once you get close to the end of an article. They don’t obstruct the content, they are animated to get the right kind of attention, and are easily dismissable.
It will look something like this in mobile screen -
What if you still want to use popup?
Then there is only one way you should write one of the best quality content for page to rank higher in searches. So it can surpass other factors like popups or speed of the website. In Google words
Remember, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content
Also, my personal opinion is users those subscribe through popup are less likely to remain a loyal subscriber than those who seek out that subscribe box in a website.