Google’s John Mueller has stated that mobile sites can display pop-ups on a temporarily basis without being punished in search results.
In 2017, Google announced that it would devalue webpages that use intrusive pop-up and interstitial ads in mobile search. The thinking behind it was to improve the user experience of websites by getting rid of annoying pop-ups and disruptive ads that pull focus from the main content i.e. why someone has come to your website.
However, Mueller has now said that “penalising intrusive interstitials isn’t high on the list of priorities for Google’s web spam team.”
He also explained that even if Google does devalue your site for using a pop-up, it’s unlikely to affect ranking factors and the next time your site is crawled, if the pop-up has been removed, it will take that into consideration:
“I don’t think we would penalise a website for anything like this. The web spam team has other things to do than to penalise a website for having a pop-up.
There are two aspects that could come into play. On one hand we have, on mobile, the policy of the intrusive interstitials, so that might be something to watch out for that you don’t keep it too long or show it to everyone all the time.
With that policy it’s more of a subtle ranking factor that we use to adjust the ranking slightly if we see that there’s no useful content on the page when we load it. That’s something that could come into play, but it’s more something that would be a temporary thing.”
Why use a pop-up?
There are many reasons you might want to use a pop-up on your web page, for example to display advertisements, surveys, newsletter signup forms, discounts or other various calls to action. They can add value to your business, mainly in the form of lead generation, but when a pop-up blocks the majority or whole of the page a user intended to see, it can ruin the experience for them. However, it seems running them on a temporary basis, or having them not cover the majority of the screen, won’t see you get punished.
There are also some safe pop-ups that are deemed non-intrusive that shouldn’t see you devalued, even if you keep them on permanently. These include:
- age-verification blockers that act as a shield for certain content, such as alcohol-related or adult content
- cookies that use popups that serve as consent notifications as required by the EU
- any other type of legally required popup
Pop-ups that are triggered by exit intent are also still allowed.
It’s also worth knowing that this only applied to pages that searchers could land on from search results. Pop-ups that appear when users navigate from one page of your website to another are okay.
Confused? We’re not surprised! But that’s Google for you…