Google Is About to Penalize Your Popups!

As far as marketing tools go, popups are getting on in years. Though they remain incredibly popular today, popups have become an increasingly annoying fixture of the web experience, especially as we transition into a mobile-dominant browsing space. Because of the limited screen real-estate afforded to most mobile devices, even popups that only took up a modest portion of the screen on desktop usually become full-screen on mobile, blocking out all content until you win a game of “Find the X” and manage to close the thing.

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Google has finally had enough of that nonsense and, in a move echoing one last year that saw non-mobile-responsive sites penalized in search rankings, are going to begin docking the rankings of sites that use such intrusive popups. This is big news! Why? Google also announced that it is removing the “mobile-friendly” label it added to search listings two years ago because they “recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria.” It is, frankly, incredible that Google was able to cause such a global sea-change in web-development simply by altering it’s algorithm and results display, and if they are able to do the same with pop-ups, this may herald the end of our trusty pops, for good.

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If you site is using pop-ups for non-marketing purposes, as an age-gate for instance or to tell a visitor the site uses cookies, it will not be penalized. Google has also said that popups and banners that use “a reasonable amount of screen space” will also pass unscathed, but in typical Google fashion, “reasonable amount” has not been clearly defined.

If you still want to keep your popup for now, or even continue to use it in the face of these changes, it won’t be the end of your world. This new requirement is only one of hundreds factors that make up Google’s search algorithm, so if your site is still the best at what it does, it should remain in it’s place, at least in the beginning. But if your site competes in a crowded search space, then expect to take a hit if you continue to use your intrusive interstitials.

You also have some time to consider your next move. These changes don’t take effect until January 10, 2017, so you should have plenty of time to decide if you still want to be friends with your pops. Want to make sure your site performs well in search results, no matter how often Google changes things up? Give the Solamar team a shout!

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