Google Targets Mobile Popups

Change is a constant in the world of search engine optimization, so it was no big surprise when Google announced they’d be tweaking their ranking algorithms for mobile site search results earlier this week.

You may remember the “Mobilegeddon” update from earlier this year where additional ranking signals were given to sites that passed their mobile-friendly test. Their most recent announcement targets popups on mobile devices. Starting in January, Google will begin penalizing mobile sites with “intrusional interstitials” because this type of user experience “can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

According to Google’s official statement, interstitials affected by the new crackdown will include the following:

  • “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.”

Google Penalizing Popups

What does that actually mean?

Simply put, Google will rank mobile web sites that display annoying pop-up ads and other distractions lower in its search results.

In the release, Google also stated they will be retiring the mobile-friendly label. It says more than 85 percent of sites currently displayed in its mobile search results meet the mobile-friendly requirements. But, sites that don’t will be ranked lower in the results.

Here’s how you can prepare for the changes:

  • Ditch your interstitials — unless they’re required by law. Those include age verification displays, as noted above, and pop-ups that let your user know you use cookies.
  • If you relied on interstitials for ad revenue, figure out where that money is going to come from now.
  • Find ways to generate revenue without obstructing the user experience, and in a way that optimizes your page for mobile. Both of those factors will likely remain crucial to search engine rank.
  • Instead of using popups to block premium content or gather user info, find other ways to gate your information. By gating it behind a landing page, you’re generating leads — and eventually sales — in a much less intrusive way that brings visitors to you.

As web traffic continues to shift more mobile we should expect to see more announcements like this designed to improve the mobile experience. If you need help getting your site ready for the new rollout give the team a call today!

If you need help getting your site ready for the new rollout give the team a call today!

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