Google Is Punishing Pop-Ups

How to Stay off the Naughty List

Google is Punishing Pop-Ups

Pestered by popups or intrusive interstitials? You’re not alone. Come January ’17 Google will begin penalizing sites using pop-ups and disruptive marketing techniques by lowering their page ranking and though the exact punishment isn’t clear, nobody wants to be on Google’s naughty list.
As a human searching the web to find out where you can buy the perfect bra, see that old honey badger video or learn more about The Apprentice, you might think, hey this is awesome, I don’t have to be constantly violated by sign ups and pushy marketing ads like this.

If you’re someone who uses this tactic, you may be looking at that image and freaking out just a little bit. If that is you, please don’t panic… Instead, take down the offending pop-ups and prepare to make some changes. Consider this as an opportunity to start to get to know your customer so you can engage them better. Find out more about how your users interact with your site and consider how you can help them vs. how you can sell to them.

Google is trying to be helpful. After all they are a search engine first and foremost and they want to get us all to the content that we are searching for. Since their beginning, they have worked to create algorithms that help to find the content you’re looking for. These algorithms are continuously evolving and improving. Google is quite tight lipped about the specifics of these algorithms for many reasons. Above all, these algorithms are proprietary and what makes google the leader in bringing you the most relevant information. They are constantly working to stay ahead of those trying to exploit the system in the name of SEO (search engine optimization).

Don't get punished for being pushy: Google is coming down on pop ups.

Not All Pop-Ups Are Created Equal

Google is Punishing Pop-Ups

Not all pop-ups and overlays are considered equal in Google’s eyes. For example, password requests and age verification pop-ups are still okay. As always, Google is keeping their cards close to the vest on the details, but banners that take up a “reasonable amount of screen space”, are not likely to adversely affect your ranking.

If you are curious to see how your site stacks up you can check out this: Mobile-Friendly Test Tool or the newer version of the Mobile Test Tool.

Get Out in Front

Google is Punishing Pop-Ups

Now all of this isn’t new, webmasters in the know learned about this back in September ’15. The direct google penalties however are new and will begin January 10, 2017. Indirectly, have you already been penalizing yourself by not anticipating these changes and being proactive instead of reactive?

Today the latest google news is driving growth in a mobile-first world. For anyone paying attention to their own google analytics, you may have noticed a steady incline in mobile visitors over the years. Mobile visitors now almost always outweigh desktop users, not necessarily in sales but with interactions to be sure. Don’t be dismissive of this important step. These interactions are the early stages of the sales process and the relationship you build here is beyond important. This is where the curious visitor gets to know who you are and trust you a little bit before opening their wallet and parting with their hard-earned dollars. Use this time wisely.

Your website is also a place where potential employees will come to learn more about you. You want to be a place the best and brightest can find. Not be dismissed because you slipped into obscurity due to negative page rankings or worse still, not mobile friendly at all? Of course, not. If you are, my grandmother has a nice set of hard cover encyclopedias you would just love. Get the picture?

If you haven’t jumped on the mobile-first bandwagon, you aren’t alone. There are still some companies that don’t have a website at all. If you are one of these organizations, I challenge you to model those achieving at a higher level and drive growth to your business in this mobile-first world.

Erin Harris
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