The Google Mobile Popup Penalty

The Google mobile popup penalty. What you need to know.

From January 10th 2017, Google will be penalising web pages that use intrusive popups and standalone interstitial elements. The thinking behind this is that such content is detrimental to the user-experience. So, any pages using these popups will find themselves dropping in the Google rankings and appearing lower in organic search results.

This is an evolution of Google’s mobile friendly policy, which two years ago, was implemented to endorse best practice in mobile search results. The aim is simple: help users find what they’re looking for quickly, regardless of the device their using. Most webpages now conform to the resizing and tap-target guidelines this policy upholds, but popups and interstitial elements are obscuring content with such regularity, they too are now being targeted.

What is likely to be targeted?

To be considered intrusive, a popup might;

  • Cover main content, either immediately after a user navigates to the page, or while they are looking through it
  • Display a standalone interstitial that the user must dismiss before being able to access the main content
  • Use a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, with the original content in-lined beneath the fold

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Are there any exceptions?

By contrast, there are also a few legitimate uses of popups which won’t affect search rankings. This includes being in response to a legal obligation, such as cookie requests or age verification. Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space, like the app install requests provided by Safari and Chrome, will also be acceptable.

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Our Advice

We want to assure all GForces clients that their websites were created with SEO and user-experience in mind from the very start. They already have the best possibility of ranking well within organic search results. Therefore, we are strongly recommending that you no longer use popup adverts for mobile on your websites. Doing so will almost certainly have a significant, negative affect on your Google ranking.

We will continue to monitor these changes and are committed to providing you with functionality and user-experiences that engage and convert.

If you have any questions or concerns about the new popup policy, please contact your account manager, who will be happy to offer further advice.

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Author: Luke Phillips (49 Articles)