Google to punish websites that use intrusive pop-ups

Posted in ,

Google announces a significant change to its mobile-search results algorithm.

As part of Google’s crusade to improve the web experience for all, and much to the joy of mobile net users everywhere, Google will be updating their search engine’s algorithm to reduce ranking positions for websites that use intrusive pop-up ads.

Due to come into effect on 10 January 2017, Google has given three examples of pop-up usage that will be penalised:

  • Pop-ups that cover the main content either immediately after the user has navigated to the page or while they are looking through it
  • A standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss, before they can access the main page content
  • Layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears full page and the user must scroll down to the page content

According to a recent report for BBC News another reason for this change could be to give users one less reason to use ad-blockers. Google wants ad publishers to see an impact from their campaigns, which ad-blockers have been damaging. In addition, Google is keen to improve the experience for users of its search engine.

Pop-ups/banners use – best practice

If your website uses pop-ups, don’t panic. Not all pop-ups will be damaging for your website. For example, pop-ups required for legal purposes (age confirmation or cookie usage) and banners that only take up a ‘reasonable amount of screen space’, such as small banners at the top of the page, are likely to be fine.

The best way to design pop-ups and banners is to consider whether or not they hinder the user’s ability to read your content. For example a pop-up that needs to be dismissed before they can see your page’s content would likely be punishable by the new algorithm change.

Impact on rankings

Google reminds us that ‘this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals’. Sites that rank well for popular search queries will continue to rank highly. However they may slowly see their position in the Google SERPs slip over time.

If you would like to read more about this change head over to the Google Webmaster Blog.