Building a Website
3 min read
Updated: April 06, 2020

Google Taking Action – Popups!

Admit it, we’ve all been there, browsing on your phone and suddenly there’s this pop-up coming out of nowhere. Worst of all, you’re not even interested in the pop-up’s content, it’s just hindering your mobile experience. It could get very frustrating, especially when you’re in a hurry and looking for something in specific. Thankfully, Google has begun penalizing mobile websites that have “intrusive interstitials”, referring to pop-up ads.
Google Taking Action – Popups!

Intrusive Pop-Up Ads

Google is dedicated to help users find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible and providing them an excellent mobile experience. They see unnecessary pop-up ads as an obstacle to providing easy content access for people browsing. Starting this past January, Google has started closely monitoring pop-up ads on mobile searches. They classified “intrusive interstitials” as anything that complicates the main content of the mobile website.

Here’s a couple of examples from Google:

  • 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.

Appropriate Pop-Up Ads

However, not all pop-ups would cause your website to be penalized. Relevant and important pop-ups would be an exception to Google’s campaign to improve mobile user experience. Here are some examples of pop-ups that Google deem appropriate:

  • 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.

These changes will affect people both in positive and negative ways. For the people browsing, it would be beneficial because it would be easier to browse. However, it is the opposite for the marketers. It is now harder than ever to incorporate pop-up ads wherever they may want in fear of being penalized and getting moved down the search result ranks. Indeed, it would be very interesting to see how marketing will evolve to accommodate these developments!

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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