You know them, you love them, and yes, you hate them.
Pop Up! They are the content marketer’s best friend with an average conversion rate of 11.09%.
But using pop-ups has been risky ever since Google announced they would devalue websites with intrusive pop-up ads in 2018.
So, this article aims to clear up some of the uncertainties surrounding pop-ups and SEO.
Here are seven tips for using pop-ups without hurting your SEO.
1. Understand which interstitial ads don’t go
Google’s Mobile Interstitial Penalty specifically targets intrusive interstitial ads.
Note that “intermediate” is a broad term that can be broadly applied to most pop-ups, overlays, and modals, but not all interstitial ads are considered equally intrusive.
As a general rule, if your interstitial ads are spammy, hard to dismiss, or impair your users’ experience, your mobile page may be devalued.
And, because Google’s indexing is now mobile-first, it could be doing more damage to your position in the SERPs than you realize.
The following are all examples of interstitial ads making your content less accessible:
- Content-covered pop-ups that users are forced to close to continue reading.
- Standalone interstitial ads must be rejected before users can access your content.
- Fraudulent page layouts whose topsoil resembles an intermediate page.
You should also avoid ads that Google dislikes and has been fined in the past, including:
- Classic interstitial ads and splash ads that interrupt users to navigate between pages and/or reach your homepage.
- As soon as a user clicks on your page, a new window pop-up opens.
- Welcome mats, new window pop-ups and other intrusive ads.
- Overlay modals that are difficult to close and/or can easily redirect visitors who accidentally click on them.
- Intrusive lightbox ads and pop-ups.
In addition, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that interstitial ads triggered by exit intent are still allowed.
However, beware of relying too heavily on these. It’s never a good idea to annoy your visitors.
2. Continue to use non-intrusive interstitial ads
Google does not penalize non-intrusive interstitial ads.
These include anything that you are legally required to restrict content or keep your users informed, such as age verification intermediates and cookie usage notifications.
Other pop-ups, such as banner ads, slide-ins, inlines and tabs, that take up a fair share of the screen (15% or less recommended) are also fine, as long as they are easy to dismiss.
If you’re not sure whether your interstitial ads are considered intrusive, I recommend avoiding full-screen overlays, welcome mats, and ad modals.
Whenever possible, try to switch to top banners and slide-in boxes that allow users to continue viewing your content and not disrupt the UX too much.
3. Switch to Timed Pop-ups
If you absolutely must continue to use pop-ups and overlays, you can try redesigning them to be as non-intrusive as possible.
One of the biggest things you can change is the timing of your interstitial ads.
For example, instead of displaying a pop-up as soon as a user visits your page, time your pop-up for the time that users have finished your blog post.
You can also limit how long pop-ups are displayed – a pop-up that automatically closes after three seconds of user inactivity is better than a pop-up that never does not close by itself.
Of course, the challenge with these types of interstitial ads is that timed pop-ups are only as effective as your content.
If your content isn’t compelling enough to keep users on the site, clicking on your pages, and reading your content, consider investing in your content marketing before you start engaging it with ads. Do it.
4. Beware of “grey area” interstitial ads
Some of the interstitial ads affected by Google’s interstitial penalties may surprise you.
for example, Muller confirmed Language selection pop-ups may be devalued on international sites, because “yes, they are popups/intermediates too.”
If you’re using these or other “grey area” interstitials like sticky sidebars, related posts, share buttons, live chat boxes, and coupon pop-ups, monitor your page’s performance carefully.
While I don’t expect these to negatively affect SEO, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Use Allowed (But Intrusive) Pop-Ups Carefully
Some ads are definitely disruptive but not penalized.
These “grey area” pop-ups are allowed, but be aware that Google may take action on them in the future (they are certainly moving in that direction):
- Page-to-Page Interstitial: according to muller, Google’s interstitial penalty only devalues the interstitial ads that pop up when visiting a site page from the SERP, but the interstitials between site pages are still fine. However, we know that Google values good UX, and page-to-page interstitials are certainly not good UX.
- Interstitial ads triggered with intent to exit: Mueller also confirmed that pop-ups that trigger exit intents are not penalized by the new update. Simply put a no-index tag in your code to avoid landing on the wrong side of the interstitial penalty.
Fair warning if you decide to use these interstitial ads: they may be penalized at some point in the (near) future, even though nothing in the new algorithmic update targets these interstitial ads.
The only three constants in this world are death, taxes and change by Google for better UX.
6. You Can Still Use Intrusive Ads on Desktop
Some websites have found a band-aid solution to interstitial penalties, which is to hide pop-ups on mobile devices and continue to use them exclusively for desktop visitors.
Many pop-up plugins include smart targeting options that allow you to display your ads only on specific platforms.
Some website platforms like Wix also allow you to hide potentially intrusive pop-ups on all mobile devices.
However, again, pop-ups that are intrusive and sabotaging your UX may be penalized under future updates.
I suggest you find a more permanent solution instead of temporarily hiding your mobile pop-ups.
7. Limit pop-ups to sources other than Google organic search
Another “grey area” you can take advantage of is simply placing pop-ups between site pages in front of visitors or finding your website through sources other than Google organic search results.
According to Mueller, these new algorithms will not be affected by the update:
“What we’re looking for is really the interstitial that shows up on search clicks and the interaction between going through the page and viewing the content. So, we’re looking for the kind of space those interstitial ads are looking for. Huh.
What you do afterwards, like if someone clicks on your website stuff or closes a tab or something like that, is kind of between you and the user. ,
Of course, if organic search drives you a lot of traffic and it’s working to generate leads, don’t feel too much pressure to switch.
Remember that the new interstitial penalty is only one indication out of hundreds, and one or two interstitial ads won’t overwhelm a website that is otherwise full of useful content.
So, here we are, years later, websites are still using pop-ups on mobile and ranking well!
Even if this is news to you, you can breathe a sigh of relief – you probably haven’t been deeply affected by this update.
But if you think Google’s mobile interstitial penalty has affected your site, check out this article on how to recover.
Featured image: McLittle Stock/Shutterstock