Google’s Pop Up Penalty on Websites Coming in January


penguin google pop-ups

Pop-ups come in all sorts of shapes and forms. Some contain calls-to-action, directing users to subscribe to email newsletters and the like. Others offer information on discounts or changes to the website. However, in general, it is safe to say that most users dislike pop-ups. And Google has been listening. So if your website uses any kind of pop-up, you should read on!

In September, Google rolled out their latest update, Penguin 4.0. As of the 10th January, 2017, Penguin will be dealing a blow to any website using pop-ups or interstitials (advertisements that appear while the page or website loads).

So What Does That Mean For My Site?

Google update pop-upsPenguin 4.0 aims to direct users to more informative results resulting in ranking downgrades for websites with too many advertisements at the top of the page and interstitials deemed too distracting or take up most of the page. Basically, websites with pop-ups or interstitials will rank lower than sites that have none.

As of the 10th of January sites “where content is not easily accessible” will be ranked lower.

What Does Penguin Count as a Pop-Up or Interstitials?

The main focus of Penguin is to target pop-ups and interstitials that prevent users from accessing content immediately. These include:

  • Pop-ups that cover the main content, either immediately or after the user scrolls
  • Standalone pop-ups or interstitials that the user has to dismiss before accessing page content
  • A layout where the “above-the-fold” portion of the page acts like a standalone interstitial
  • Advertising that makes the user watch it before being able to access the site
  • Pop-ups that grey out the website content until the advertisement is dismissed

Will your site be affected? If you’re unsure, contact us today at BSO Digital!

What Won’t Be Penalised?

Google penguin 4.0 pop-upsGoogle acknowledges not all pop-ups are made alike. Websites using interstitials for the following reasons will not be penalised, according to Google:

  • Pop-ups needed for legal obligations. For example: age verification, login dialogues etc.
  • Dialogue boxes on sites where content is not publicly indexable (ie: paywalls for online courses etc)
  • Interstitials that take up a “reasonable” amount of screen space (especially on mobile)

Why is Google Doing This?

At the end of the day enough users complained about intrusive pop-ups and interstitials that Google decided to do something about it. This Penguin update is meant to dissuade website and business owners from using interstitials to advertise or convert new users. mobile pop-ups penguinGoogle updates aim to give the user the best experience possible resulting in sites creating “a bad viewer experience” being penalised.

This is especially important for mobile friendly sites. Heavy penalties are promised for interstitials that fill the mobile screen or contain pop-ups directing users to download apps. Mobile-friendly is the way of the future and this Penguin update is one more step toward it.

So What Should I Do?

Contact BSO Digital today if your site uses pop-ups or intersitials. We will assess whether or not they should be removed. It is important to do this before January 10th.

In the place of interstitials, try to focus on content writing that is energetic and provides important information for your users. Use text and images that create a strong call to action and branding that conveys the promises of your business. Providing valuable, meaningful content improves your ranking and you may convert those users previously turned away by your pop-ups.