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Google’s Plans to Introduce Pop-up Punishments

Written by Ben Leach on

As of January 2017, Google plan on introducing new filters to their mobile search engine algorithm to not rank pages as high if they have pop-up ads on their pages.

As of January 2017, Google plan on introducing new filters to their mobile search engine algorithm to not rank pages as high if they have pop-up ads on their pages. Usually these come in the form of ads or sign up forms, and are particularly distracting for mobile users to have the ad covering content.

Pop-up frustration

Although underlying content may still be present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, text and images that people want to access is obscured by an annoying pop up. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily find the content they were expecting when they tapped on the search result, and can only be removed by clicking a tiny dismiss button that is easily mis-clicked.

Google said:

“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.”

Not accessible

Distractions that make content less accessible to a user include pop ups that cover the main page, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page. Displaying a standalone pop up that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content will also affect rankings, as will using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

But good pop ups will still be allowed, when used responsibly. Things like legal obligations such as age consent, cookie policy consent or if the pop-up doesn’t take up too much space like on app installation banners will not penalise your website. If your content is still highly relevant to the search, your result will be displayed, but may lose priority if there is another website that Google judges to have an equal amount of relevance without the pop ups compared to yours.

User friendliness?

Login dialogs on sites where access is not so straightforward, including private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall, will also go unpunished, as will banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible.

Changes like this focus on making websites more user-friendly and will reduce the annoyances that have developed. This change to the mobile search results page proves that more and more people are using their mobiles to browse the web. Contact us today to see how we can help find a way around pop-up ads on your website and ensure that you don’t get hit by these new Google rules.