While browsing your Facebook feed, you find an interesting topic shared by a friend. You think, “this looks interesting!”, click, and begin reading. Then, the worst happens — not a second after you’ve read the title, a pop-up appears. “It’s OK,” you think, “I’ll just close this and continue reading.” But one minute later, it’s there again, asking you to sign up on whatever amazing deal it’s offering.

Annoying is an understatement. These intrusive mobile interstitials (aka pop-up) is a serial interrupter. It just won’t leave you alone.

Well, Google has heard and they have released an update penalising websites that use pop-ups.

“In Google Search, our goal is to help users quickly find the best answers to their questions, regardless of the device they’re using. Today, we’re announcing two upcoming changes to mobile search results that make finding content easier for users.”

Reading is now so much easier on mobile

Websites heavily used pop-ups to try and boost their ‘subscribe’ and opt-in rates. Although it works in some ways, the number of people who have signed up doesn’t outweigh the number of people who clicked off out of annoyance. Website content is meant to be read. If you have written a really good and compelling copy that converts, there is absolutely no need to cover that with popups.

According to general consensus, pop-ups induce the most irritation when they come unsolicited, obscuring the focus of your attention and offer irrelevant information. – The Next Web

Here are some examples of popups that will be penalised by Google because they make content less accessible, according to 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.

Popups won’t completely be banished

There are a few types of popups that will be allowed by Google.

The cookie notices or those announcements that inform visitors that you’re collecting cookies can be kept. You can also keep using a popup that encourages visitors to use the app instead of the site and a popup used to verify the user’s age.

In order to use these, you need to follow Google’s requirements. Popups should not be larger than the size taken up by a banner. If you’ve got a full-page popup that blocks the view of your content or pushes it further down, Google is going to reduce your mobile search results.

This is only one signal out of the hundreds that Google use in ranking. According to the search giant, the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content. However, it is best practice to keep your users happy by reducing the interruptions while browsing.

If your mobile website currently contains pop-ups that are against Google’s new rules, change it now. Don’t wait for a penalty before making your site more user-friendly. Not sure where to start? Bambrick is here to help. Contact us now for an intensive review of your website.