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Google takes action against pop-ups usage on mobile websites: what does that mean for marketers?

User experience is usually at heart of Google’s website indexation algorithm changes. So it was no big surprise when the giant announced, at the end of last summer, that pop-ups and interstitials usage on mobile websites would be punished.


But first, what are interstitials?

There is a subtle difference between pop-ups and interstitials. The pop-ups that we are used to are windows that appear over the main content and cover it, totally or partially, until the user closes it. Interstitials are pages that display between two other pages during web navigation.


What Google says about interstitials and pop-ups?

As of January 10, 2017 (Update December 2018), mobile pages including intrusive elements might not rank as high as they used to before because Google now considers that limiting access to the main content offers a bad user experience.


What Google means by ”intrusive”?

Maybe you think that all pop-ups and interstitials are intrusive, but Google doesn’t think that way and accepts some of them. The following elements are considered as non-intrusive:

  1. Interstitials that are required by law, like those that inform of cookie usage or for age verification.
  2. Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable.
  3. Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and can easily be closed.

Pop-ups and Intertitials not sanctioned by Google

Source: Google


About Mobile-first indexation

In addition to the new interstitial and pop-up measures, Google also announced that indexations will now be made on a mobile-first basis. Since the majority of searches are now made on mobile devices, this is where they are going to be analyzed first, instead of desktop pages.


What are the impacts for marketers?

Marketers now have to optimize their pages for mobiles first. And if it wasn’t already clear to you, it goes without saying that you need to get rid of all intrusive elements on your mobile site… unless of course you don’t care about your Google ranking, which would be quite surprising. This new measure will force companies that rely on pop-up ads for revenue to find new (and better) ways of making money without obstructing user experience.

Replacing pop-ups with high quality content is a good way to start. This content, in addition to being rewarded at the SEO level, will attract prospects and, in the end, create sales revenue with the use of calls-to action and embedded forms. For more information, see the official Google announcements.