Imagine trying to read some valuable content online. You click on a link, and suddenly a large ad covers the whole screen. Then you try to dismiss it, but you can’t find the close button. What do you do? You leave the website.
Fortunately, such situations can be prevented. This article will cover pop-ups and intrusive interstitials in general and guide you on how to use them on a website without hurting SEO. So let’s dive in.
What Are Pop-ups On A Website?
Pop-ups on websites are graphical elements that suddenly appear in the foreground of primary content, designed to catch the user’s attention.
In most cases, pop-ups appeal to users to motivate them to take action, like subscribe to an email, click an ad, or download a file.
The irony is that website owners use pop-ups to reach their marketing goals, but the strategy often backfires.
How Do Pop-ups Affect SEO?
Pop-up usage has been a direct ranking factor for mobile SEO since 2017. Its incorrect implementation can negatively impact the user experience (UX) and, consequently, affect your ranking on the search engine result page (SERP).
Google has stated that pages with intrusive interstitials provide a poor user experience, making content less accessible to users.
According to Google, some techniques that diminish content accessibility include:
- Pop-ups that cover the main content of the website when a user has just landed on a page from a search and when the user is in the process of browsing the page.
- Display of interstitial that a user must close to access the main content.
- The use of standalone intrusive interstitial that is almost identical to the original content when the main content is placed below the fold, and more.
Therefore, your website may suffer the following issues:
- Increased bounce rate
- Lower user time on site
- Poor navigation
- Get affected by Google penalties and, in turn, suffer a drop in search positions.
How To Use Pop-ups On A Website Without Hurting SEO?
We already know that Google frowns at important pop-ups that can affect user experience, so now let’s review some measures to prevent hurting your ranking on search engines.
First, let’s identify intrusive interstitials. Here are a couple of examples:
- Pop-ups that cover the whole screen are difficult to dismiss.
- Standalone pop-ups that prevent access to the main content (for both users and search bots).
- Pop-ups show up immediately after a user lands on your page.
- Intrusive lightbox pop-ups.
- Classical interstitial ads that affect navigation.
In general, to continue enjoying organic traffic, you should avoid anything that gives users a bad experience or may annoy them. This is vital for mobile devices as their screens are significantly smaller than a desktop, so you need to pay more attention to provide a smooth user experience. Moreover, you should make sure that your pop-ups don’t affect crawling by a search bot.
What Types Of Interstitials Are Less Dangerous?
There are a couple of exceptions to the rules discussed in the previous part.
Google has accepted the use of interstitials that make content more accessible to its users.
For example, side-ins, banner ads, in-lines, buttons, and tabs that take up a reasonable amount of space (15% or less) and are easy to dismiss shouldn’t be penalized if they don’t cover the main content. Also, legal interstitials like cookies that use notification and age verification blockers may be accepted and required in some countries or for particular types of content.
However, you should avoid welcome mats, ad modal, and full-screen overlays because they are highly intrusive.
Try The Gray Area Interstitial
The gray area interstitials like sticky sidebars, share buttons, live chat boxes, and coupon pop-ups are more SEO-friendly compared to the highly intrusive ones discussed earlier.
These interstitials take up less space on the screen, whether you use mobile or desktop.
One of the most intrusive pop-up forms is displayed as soon as users land on the webpage.
Since users find it annoying, you can consider redesigning the ad so that it appears once the reader gets to the bottom of the page. Another way is to set up a timer that will show a pop-up with a predefined delay.
You can also design the pop-ups so that they close after some seconds of inaction from the user instead of overlaying till the user closes them.
However, to display pop-ups at the end of your content, you should keep in mind that visitors have to read to the bottom of the page before the conversion occurs, so the content needs to be engaging.
Analyze Before and After
Whatever ad type you use, it is always important to correctly choose the page where it will be placed and monitor your website using tools like SE Ranking’s SEO tracking software. Use this tool to find top organic pages which bring the most traffic and place your pop-ups there. You can also use it to connect to Google Analytics and Google Search Console to check traffic metrics and additional data on user behavior.
Moreover, SE Ranking’s Website Audit can check pages for technical, security, and content issues to make sure they are accessible for users and bots. Finally, use SE Ranking’s page monitoring feature to track all the changes made to your website.
With these features on hand, you will be all set to get the most out of implementing a pop-up ad and, at the same time, to make sure that your website visitors’ journey is smooth.
Google frowns at the use of intrusive pop-ups on web pages because it negatively affects user experience. So unless it is accepting cookies or age confirmation (or some other justified interruption) request, it is recommended to use reasonable screen space, the gray area interstitials, and timed pop-ups.
It is always convenient to use SEO tools like SE Ranking to analyze, find the best page for an ad on your website, and double-check a user’s interaction with your resource. This way, you’ll not only avoid Google penalties but ensure more conversions and high user satisfaction.