Google to Penalise Sites with Pop-ups and Intrustive Advertisements

Bloggers might want to take note of Google’s latest update. Google announced this week that they are introducing a new penalty to demote mobile pages that have pop-ups and intrusive above-the-fold content. These include email sign-ups, opt-ins, advertisements and other intrusive interstitials.

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 – via Google Webmaster Blog.

What does that mean? They are cracking down on the intrusive advertising by knocking down those pages in search results. So if your blog shows a pop-up newsletter sign-up form, advertisement or other content that covers the main site content (at any stage during a visit to your site) then your blog will be ranked lower in Google’s mobile search results.

What isn’t Google allowing?

Google have specifically mentioned the following examples

1. Pop-ups that cover the main content, either immediately after the user visits a page or on a time delay.
2. Any kind of interstitial that the user has to dismiss or click out off to view the main site content.
3. Layouts where the pop-up or advertisement appears as above the fold content, where a user has to scroll down to get access to the main content. An example of this is SumoMe’s Welcome Mat.

SEO tips: Google to penalise mobile sites with pop-ups and other intrustive interstitials. Examples shown.

via Google Blog

So basically any type of pop-up that users have to dismiss in order to continue viewing the main content (newsletter sign-ups, pop-up messages, promotions/coupons and membership offers) and any type of ad/banners that covers the majority of the page above the fold.

What is Google allowing?

As long as you’re implementing these correctly, then they will not be considered intrusive and will be allowed.

1. Legal reasons such as for cookie usage or age verification.
2. Login screens where content is private or password-protected.
3. Banners that don’t take up the whole screen above the fold of a website and can be easily dismissed, such as the banners inviting you to use a mobile app instead of the website or the popular HelloBar banner.

SEO tips: Google to penalise mobile sites with pop-ups and other intrustive interstitials. Examples of what are allowed.

via Google Blog

What this means for your blog?

As mentioned in previous SEO posts, Google use a variety of factors when deciding what to show in their search results. Occasionally they will give some details about specific factors, such as mobile friendly requirement. They want to improve the usability of mobile sites and give their users a better experience.

Most people hate pop-ups, it’s been listed the number one most hated thing in surveys. Yet so many people continue to use them because “they work”. Yes, they do but do you know why? Studies show that they work because the majority of people don’t know that you can click outside of the pop-up to close it. They think they only way to get through it is to sign up. They are not the people you want on your email list!

If you don’t care about the views you get from Google or about SEO then continue doing what you’re doing. If you do care, then take a quick look at your site and review any advertisements and popups that you have installed.

Personally, I think this is a great update as I’m not a fan of automated popups on any device. Google previously announced that responsive sites will rank higher and now 85% of sites are mobile-friendly. I’m hoping that this update will have a similar effect and that people will stop including this feature on their site.

What do you think? Do you mind automated popups? Do you use them on your blog? If so, do you find them effective and will you continue to use them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

11 comments

  1. Stacey Loring on

    As a relatively new blogger, I’ve gotten caught up in the hype of having all these opt-ins. I had a few on my blog but when I tried to read something on my phone and couldn’t see anything, I got rid of them all, except for the Sumome smart bar. I always hated all the pop ups and I did notice it had a reverse effect on my blog. When I had all of the pop ups and scroll boxes, I noticed not as many people wanted to opt-in to my email list. I guess it’s different for every type of blog.

    Reply
    • Elaine Malone on

      Hi Amber, thank you so much for reading and sharing. From the information Google has provided so far about layouts with the interstitial appearing above the fold as natural content, I do think that Welcome Mat will be included in the list of things they don’t want to see. Keep in mind that at the moment it is only on mobile sites, so once it’s deactivated for mobile you should be okay.

      Reply
  2. Natasha on

    I am so sick of clicking on a recipe on Pinterest ad being BOMBARDED with ‘SIGN UP!’ or ‘CLICK FOR MORE RECIPES!’ on someones blog. I’m reading the recipe from Pinterest, I would have probably looked around for more recipes but l certainly won’t if I know that I have a banner popping up on every page! It drives me mad.

    Reply
  3. Jodi on

    This excites me because popups drive me BATTY. I’ve heard so many bloggers defend using them because “they work”, even though they agree they are annoying, I wonder if they realize your explanation of why they’re working. Yeah, not who I would want signing up either. (Not that I have a signup at all so who am I to talk…)

    I just discovered this blog yesterday and within 5 minutes I learned 2 super helpful things so I’m excited to have found you! I appreciate tutorials that aren’t 3-5 years old (what usually shows up at the top of google results) and especially appreciate that you don’t bash blogger! That is refreshing!

    Reply
    • Elaine Malone on

      Hi Jodi, thank you so much for your lovely comment. It’s so nice to have you here! Popups drive me crazy too, I never sign up (and sometimes I actually leave the site entirely) so I think it’s a great step. I think it’s better to have people on your list that REALLY want to be on that list. Blogger is great, I think it’s important to note that there’s advantages and disadvantages to all platforms out there 🙂

      Reply

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