The End of Intrusive Pop-Ups is Near

online marketingWhile they’ve become a staple of online marketing, we all know how annoying pop-ads can be—especially on a mobile device. They overtake your entire screen and are difficult to make go away. Now Google is taking matters into their own hands by penalizing pages with these intrusive pop-ups, formally known as interstitials. Web pages that do not provide a smooth transition from search results to content will not rank as highly as those where content is easily accessible.

The thought behind this move is to improve the user experience and make mobile searches more efficient. Google announced that penalties would commence after January 10, 2017.

What are Intrusive Interstitials?

Google’s Webmaster Central blog defines three types of interstitials that will be penalized from now on.

1. A Pop-Up That Covers a Site’s Main Content
This is the type of annoying interstitial that hides a page’s main content from you. It may pop up immediately or a few seconds or longer after you enter the site. This type of interstitial requires some sort of action from you to get rid of it and access the content again. In the past, it was a mainstay of online marketing, as it was a solid way to capture leads. These pop-ups will now cause a site to be penalized and will demote its ranking in Google searches.

2. The Standalone.
This type of interstitial locks all of the content on a page and must be dismissed before you can access the site. This is now considered a red flag to Google and can quickly affect your bounce rate, as many visitors will immediately leave the site rather than taking action to access the content, especially mobile users.

3. A Pop-Up With Content Inlined Underneath the Fold
In this example, an above-the-fold part of the page looks like a standalone, but the original content is actually inlined underneath it.

Which Pop-Ups Can Still be Used?

If you do choose to use an interstitial on your site, make sure it doesn’t block mobile visitors from accessing your content. The types that are permitted on a WordPress site include the following:

1. Pop-ups used for age verification or to inform visitors of a legal notice or cookie usage.

2. Banners that are easy to dismiss and occupy a small amount of the screen, approximately 10 to 15 percent. Some good examples are the app install banners provided by Chrome.

3. Banners appearing in the sidebar.

4. Login dialogs for sites that feature private, unindexable content.

If you use any of the newly-banned forms of intrusive pop-ups, it may be best to turn them off now, at the very least for mobile users. The good news is, if you used plugins to create pop-ups, many of these will offer updates with Google-approved options. Either way, this new Google announcement will result in an improved user experience and may usher in creative new ways for content to be delivered online.

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