Penalized For Pop-Ups?
Finally, it appears that Google has begun penalizing mobile websites that have intrusive pop-up ads. We’ve all been there before: browsing on your phone and suddenly there’s this pop-up, often hindering your mobile experience.
Google is dedicated to helping users find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. They also provides users with an excellent mobile experience. Google sees unnecessary pop-up ads as an obstacle to delivering what’s being searched for.
Taking Action Against Pop-up Ads
Since January, Google has been 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 pop-up 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 pop-up ad that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout with a pop-up ad above the fold appearing similar to a standalone ad that covers the original content that is displaying below the fold.
Forbes.com immediately hits you with a pop-up ad when you try to read an article on their site. You are forced to look at a full-page ad with a countdown timer on the upper right-hand side. The timer must get to zero before you can get to the article.
After that screen has cleared, you are allowed access to the content. But now, there is a pop-up video that starts automatically playing on the article page along with a banner ad on the top of the web page, and another ad on the right-hand side.
Forbes.com and many other sites make it difficult to close out of these ads. Most people find these kinds of pop-up ads annoying, and they can actually hinder the reading experience.
However, your website will not be penalized by all pop-ups. Relevant and important pop-ups will 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. It will be beneficial for the people browsing because the pop-up ads will not be preventing them to browse. Since Google can deem an ad unnecessary, it will become more difficult for the marketer to incorporate pop-up ads wherever they want. Marketers can get penalized for creating intrusive and unnecessary ads. This in result will move them down the search result ranks.
Indeed, it will be very interesting to see how marketing will evolve to accommodate these developments.