Conversion rate optimization

Will Mobile Popups Harm My SEO?

Did you hear the news?
Google’s bringing a total crackdown on mobile popups.

According to the search giant’s official announcement, sites that display the intrusive interstitials might see a drop in mobile rankings.
And we’re not worried about it.

Because we already offer features that would allow your mobile popups to comply with what Google considers good practices for website interstitials.
Before I show them to you, though, let’s take a closer look at the upcoming Google popup update.

Google Popup Crackdown – What We Know

The announced mobile algorithm change came into effect on the 10th of January 2017.
Luckily, the search giant has revealed quite a lot about the update.

So, to begin at the beginning:
In its strive for providing the best user experience, Google has decided to tackle a common problem of mobile users:
Not being able to read the content right away due to intrusive interstitials obstructing it from their view.

And as Google points:
“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

To improve the mobile users’ experience, pages that do not provide the content for a user to view right away might, as Google puts it, “not rank as highly.”
In simple terms, if you display a popup that covers the content of the page, and requires a person to close to access the information, your rankings might drop.

Google listed three example scenarios where using popups might hurt your rankings:

  • 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.

However, they also provided examples of acceptable popup uses:

  • 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.


But What Does This REALLY Mean to You

If you’re already using popups on your site to drive signups, conversions, and revenue, you should take note.
Depending on how the way you have them set up, your rankings might be affected.
There are, however, a couple of things you should understand about the upcoming update:

#1. It Affects Only Rankings for Mobile Searches

Google has made it clear that the next algorithm update will affect only mobile search results.
Granted, given that last year users consumed the majority of digital media on mobile, this might be a major traffic channel for your store.
However, in spite of this, using popups will not reduce your desktop rankings.
(image source)

#2. Google Still Allows You to Use Popups…

…they just want you to use them without obstructing or blocking a user from reading the content.
To understand this, take a closer look at the acceptable use cases the search engine outlined in their announcement.
The first two focus on specific use cases, not really applicable to conversion-focused popups.
The third one, however, tells exactly how you could use a popup on a mobile page without risking a drop in rankings:
“Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible.”

You see, as it turns out, Google’s guidelines allow for using marketing popups on mobile devices. But only as long as they don’t cover the major portion of the screen.

Just take a look at those examples created for this blog:
A popup optimized to comply with Google guidelines




And here’s the best part, you can already comply with that when using Wisepops.
Here’s how.

#1. Create a Popup That Targets ONLY Mobile Visitors

Create separate versions for users accessing your site on their smartphones and computers.

In Wisepops, you can set up a popup that targets only users viewing your site on a particular smartphone operating system:

#2. Adjust the Size to Cover Only a Smaller Portion of the Screen

This is a hugely important step.
Remember, Google will not penalize you for using popups only if they don’t prevent users from reading the content right away.
In practice, this means that your popup can’t take any major part of the screen.
So far, Google hasn’t revealed what it considers an acceptable height for a popup. Judging by their screenshots, though, it seems that it shouldn’t take more than 30% of the screen.

Luckily, you can adjust the width and height of a popup in Wisepops.


#3. Adjust the Copy to Fit the Mobile Size Popup

Given the relatively small size, you will have to set for the mobile popup; you might also have to edit and trim down the copy to fit.

This is an unfortunate result of reducing the screen real estate you can take over with a popup.
Depending on your message, simply reducing the text might do.

Or you might have to rework the entire copy.

Nonetheless, if you’ve been worrying about the upcoming Google Mobile Update, don’t.

With Wisepops, you can already create popups that pass Google’s criteria.

If you want more info on the matter, we recommend you check this extensive article we published about mobile pop-ups best practices.

Pawel Grabowski Pawel is an SEO and content marketing consultant working exclusively with SaaS brands.

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