Why are Popups Bad for SEO? | 5 minute video

I am Geoff from Planet Wide City, gonna answer the question, why are pop-ups on websites bad for SEO?

So, you know, pop-ups are often…you get offers popping up when you go onto a website. But in terms of a perspective from SEO, Google introduced a Google interstitial penalty. I have trouble saying that, but interstitial or pop-up is pretty much the same thing. And they basically wanted to penalize websites that used intrusive pop-ups, interstitial adverts. Okay. So Google rolled out this algorithm update back in January 2017, and the tenet was punish aggressive interstitials and pop-ups that might damage the mobile user experience. So from Google’s perspective, they didn’t want to be putting people in their search results, that when they click through from Google to that website, they were then served up with a bad user experience in Google’s mind. Okay.

So, you know, how do you go about going around this, basically, when you’re a marketer and you want to improve your conversions on the website? Well, the first option is the nuclear option. It’s just saying, “Okay, well, Google doesn’t like my pop-ups. I’m gonna just remove my pop-ups completely.” And, of course, that’s one solution that will fix this problem. But actually, you know, as marketers, pop-ups can be really, really useful. You know, if you think about conversion rates on websites, they’re often sometimes less than 1%. And using pop-ups can really improve those conversion rates. You know, there’s a great study here from sumo.com, conversion rates for all pop-ups is, like, 3%, and their 10 highest got up to about 9%.

And you know, there’s…some big brands use pop-ups and for good reason, right? You’ve got Adidas trying to get people to sign up for their email newsletter. ConvertFlow, they’re trying to push you down content funnels here, depending on, you know, what type of person you are on their website. And even people like Lush, they’ll actually try and get you to stick around once you actually leave the website, so leaving pop-ups. So pop-ups, as a marketer, can be amazing for improving conversions on a website, but clearly, there is an issue with Google and your rankings, your search engine optimization, and how do you tackle that?

Well, there’s a few tips really with your pop-ups, and the first one really is Google really, really objects to pop-ups on mobile phones. So you could just switch off your pop-ups just on mobiles and leave them on desktops. And of course, that makes sense, right, because you’ve only got a certain size of screen area when people are using a phone. So it’s easy for a pop-up that you don’t think is that big on a desktop to pretty much use up the whole space on mobile. So that’s one option to get around this penalty.

The other one is don’t make it a massive pop-up, you know. How much space do you actually need, you know? Google is gonna really, really object if you serve up a pop-up that fills the whole screen, basically, especially on mobile devices. So use your space accordingly. If it’s a small pop-up, Google probably isn’t gonna mind.

Make sure you serve up something that’s actually relevant. Don’t just go pop-up mad across all your users. When are you gonna serve up an ad, a pop-up? When is it gonna be relevant to that particular user? If you don’t think you’re gonna get a conversion for some of your users, don’t serve them up a pop-up. Don’t serve it up straight away. Most pop-ups you can put a delay on or when they scroll down the screen. So don’t serve it as soon as they arrive on the website. Maybe leave it two or three minutes or when they scroll down.

And the other thing is make that pop-up easy to close. How many times if you had a pop-up show up on your mobile and you can’t, for the life of you, find that little cross to close it down? Make it easy to close. You’d want people who aren’t interested in that conversion right now not to be completely hacked off with your website that they go somewhere else.

So I hope that helps you with why pop-ups are bad for SEO and also to answer the question to a certain extent of, you know, you can still use pop-ups if you take some of those approaches. That’s it. Thank you.