Farewell to Mobile Popups…or Not?

You’re on your smartphone researching the Google search listings for some insider information for your March Madness bracket. In the past, website after website would often have those annoying popups that would cover the entire screen until you repeatedly tried clicking the tiny “X” in the corner to close (unless you have a stylus to make these pinpoint clicks a breeze). If you’re like me, you may have just hit the back button and proceeded to the next result in Google.

Now don’t get me wrong, these mobile popups have a proven effect of increasing conversions on a website and with that, increased revenue. However, this increased conversion comes at the cost of increased user frustration and that to Google is a cause for concern.

As of January 11, 2017, Google began to take these “intrusive interstitials” into account when rating websites for mobile results. Yes, intrusive interstitials, and this image below from Google provides an idea by what will be penalized under their updated algorithm:

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][dt_carousel arrow_bg_width=”36x” arrow_border_width=”0px” r_arrow_icon_paddings=”0px 0px 0px 0px” r_arrow_v_offset=”0px” l_arrow_icon_paddings=”0px 0px 0px 0px” l_arrow_v_offset=”0px” slides_on_wide_desk=”3″ slides_on_wide_desk=”3″][vc_column_text] Negative Popup 1

#1:  An example of an intrusive popup

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] Negative Popup 2

#2:  An example of an intrusive standalone interstitial

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] Negative Popup 3

#3:  Another example of an intrusive standalone interstitial

[/vc_column_text][/dt_carousel][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] As these images illustrate, Google will penalize for making content less accessible to a user:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

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Now this isn’t to say that all mobile popups will be penalized. There are several types of “interstitials” that Google doesn’t consider “intrusive” and thus you should continue to see these:

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][dt_carousel arrow_bg_width=”36x” arrow_border_width=”0px” r_arrow_icon_paddings=”0px 0px 0px 0px” r_arrow_v_offset=”0px” l_arrow_icon_paddings=”0px 0px 0px 0px” l_arrow_v_offset=”0px” slides_on_wide_desk=”3″ slides_on_wide_desk=”3″][vc_column_text] Acceptable Popup 1

#1:  An example of an interstitial for cookie usage

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] Acceptable Popup 2

#2:  An example of an interstitial for age verification

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] Acceptable Popup 3

#3:  An example of a banner that uses a reasonable amount of screen space

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As the images demonstrate, several popups will still be allowed:

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

As a final caveat, many websites will continue to have the intrusive mobile popups, whether for lack of knowledge of Google’s update or they decide the advantage’s outweigh the hit in search rankings. For example, a top site within Google such as ESPN will not see much effect on their rankings due to their overall popularity and the mobile popup is just one of several hundred factors that Google examines.

So as we all look for that inside scoop for our March Madness brackets, maybe we can worry less about “intrusive interstitials” and more about bragging rights come April 3rd!

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If you would like to read Google’s official news post, check out their blog HERE.

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