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Stefanie Kir
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Have Popups? Google Might be Penalising Your Site Soon

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Google has announced that, from the start of next year, it will start to penalise websites that have ‘intrusive interstitials’ – the pesky popups that appear when you first load a website.

Basically the clampdown means that, if your site is loaded with gimmicks that get in the way of the user reading the all-important content, you might start to see a drop in your site’s rankings.

Why is this happening?

The reason for this change is that Google is trying to improve user experience for all users, especially people using their mobile devices. Basically, Google wants to reduce the number of steps a user has to take before they get to your homepage. If they have to close five boxes before they get to your content, it’s bad news for your UX. And, if you’re not keeping users happy, your rankings will drop.

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Not every interstitial is under fire

Do you have interstitials on your site? Before you start flurrying to remove them, consider what type of popups they are. If the popups are useful to the user, chances are they won’t be penalised when the new algorithm comes in next January.

These include popups asking for age verification, asking for permission to use cookies and those prompting you to log in. Google will also make an exception for banners that don’t take too much screen space and are easily dismissible.

The proposed changes are due to take place in January next year. If you have popups on your website, you have until then to take them down, or risk losing your hard-earned rankings in Google results pages.

What else has Google done to promote mobile user experience?

Google is famously a long-time fan of changes that will make the internet a happier place for all. The interstitial update is just the latest in a long line of UX updates that will make for easier browsing.

These changes most often centre on mobile devices (and this isn’t surprising, either, given more and more users turn to their handheld devices every day).

A couple of years ago, Google introduced the mobile-friendly label to its search engine listings, indicating to users at a glance which sites were mobile responsive. Since they introduced the label, over 80% of websites have adopted mobile-friendly design.

Stay tuned for updates on Google’s updates on intrusive interstitials – it will be interesting to see what they have in store for the algorithm.

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By Stefanie Kir


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