Google recently announced that starting around January 10, 2017 they will begin to filtrate and discount the organic search visibility of mobile website versions that use “intrusive” pop-up windows. They describe the three main offenses they’ll be gunning for in the new year as follows:
– Showing a pop-up that covers the main content, either immediately after users navigate to a landing page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
– Displaying a standalone interstitial that users have 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 falls in line underneath the fold.
Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, recently confirmed via Twitter that the penalty will only apply to a user’s initial landing page – meaning if an intrusive pop-up sullies the experience on the page on which a user lands directly from search results, the algorithm may take issue. Interstitials that fire from one page to the next after a user has already arrived on the website will not be taken into consideration.
One word to the wise would be to keep an eye on your top landing pages via analytics every month and make sure all of your most popular real estate remains as user-friendly as possible.
As with most changes the search engine giant makes, the end result aims to provide a better experience for those using their products. If you’ve spent any time browsing the web on your phone over the last five years you’re well aware of how absolutely aggravating pop-ups can be on mobile. As they often do, Google is trying to improve the gold usability standard.
The goal here is to reward websites that implement a non-intrusive interstitial strategy with better rankings, while simultaneously protecting Google’s market share by ensuring the quality of their query results.
How Dealer.com Website clients should interpret this news.
If you’re using an excessive number of pop-ups on your local dealership website, start determining which ones are vital to your business and which you can scale back – especially on the mobile version.
The most frequently asked question I’ve received from clients regarding this announcement has been “Does that mean I have to get rid of my chat tool?” The answer is no; you don’t have to get rid of your chat tool. A chat box on mobile is a pop-up with a purpose. It adds value to the site, improves user experience, and isn’t the type of window this algorithmic update is seeking to penalize.
Excessive pop-ups are never a good idea, regardless of device. This latest announcement from Google, however, applies only to mobile devices, and strives to remove an element of poor user experience. It also applies only to the first page a user lands on from search results, and not from across their site visit as a whole. Be confident, however, and keep those chat tools activated. They’re an important piece to many car dealership websites, and Google’s algorithm is sophisticated enough in 2017 to recognize that.
If you have any questions, please leave them as a comment below. You can also learn more from the following resources:
- Google warns it will crack down on “intrusive interstitials” in January
- Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Helping users easily access content on mobile
- Google will start penalizing mobile pop-ups: Here’s what to do
Dave Pye is the director of digital marketing at Dealer.com