We’ve all been there – we perform a Google search and click on a page only to find that the page we’ve opened is almost completely obscured by a pop-up ad of some kind that is of no relevance or use to us.
To make things even more frustrating, oftentimes the ‘x’ to close that ad is deliberately greyed-out or made less obvious, so that we’re click-baited into clicking somewhere else on the pop-up only to find that this opens up yet another page that we have no interest in.
The above experience is bad enough on desktop, but it’s mainly on mobile where the problem occurs – smaller screens mean more invasive pop-ups can completely obscure the information we’re actually looking for… but now Google is taking aim at offending sites.
From 10 January 2017, pages where content is not as easily accessible because of obstructive and unwanted techniques like unnecessary pop-ups will be ranked lower than pages where either pop-ups don’t occur, or pages where the pop-up is correctly applied.
What is a good or bad pop-up?
Examples of obstructive techniques that Google will target include:
- Showing a pop-up 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.
There are times when a pop-up is necessary, and can be correctly applied. As Google demonstrates:
- Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
Stick to the rules and you’ll be just fine!
Overall, sites that behave responsibly, and focus on providing great and relevant content for the end user will be positively impacted by the change – as always with Google, stick to the rules, and you’ll be just fine!
Image source: Google