Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Google Will Penalize Sites with Popup Ads in 2017

In mid-August Google announced that they would begin penalizing sites that used popup ads (what they call “intrusive interstitials”) beginning in January, 2017.

If you own or manage a WordPress site that uses one of the 1000s of plugins that creates automatic popups, you MUST be aware of this. Your site’s ranking will be effected by these new rules/algorithms. (Non-WordPress sites will also be effected).

Google has identified three kinds of popups they will begin penalizing sites for using/displaying.
  • First are popups that cover the main content of the page when a user arrives at that page by clicking on a link from a search result. This includes popups that are immediate, show up as the user scrolls down the page, or popups that show up as you try to navigate away from the page.
  • Popups that are ‘stand-alone’ and must be dismissed before the content can be viewed. You know, those annoying popups that cover the whole page and have a countdown timer forcing you to view the ad.
  • And finally, popup ads that act/look like they are the above-the-fold content of the page. These are the ads that take up the entire viewable area of the window and slide away quickly as you begin to scroll.

Examples of these popups will include promotions, membership offers, newsletter signups, coupons, and advertisements.

Exceptions to these rules will be popups that cover legal information – like those messages on sites originating in Europe that warn you that cookies are in use, login popups, and verification popups – think age verification on alcohol websites.

Why is Google doing this? Well, Google has been pushing for more mobile friendly sites for a while now. Last year they updated their search algorithms to favor sites that were mobile friendly – basically ranking mobile friendly sites above their ‘peers’ that were not responsive/mobile friendly. Popups that cover content are (annoying, yes) not considered mobile friendly.
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