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Google to demote sites that use popups on mobile


Google recently announced that, as of January 2017, they’ll start to demote sites in mobile search results that use popups, overlays and interstitials.

After a slow start on recognising mobile, Google have put a lot of time & resource to delivering better search results from mobile – where the need and intent can be very different to a search that’s made on a desktop.

At the outset they started detecting and rewarding when a site delivers a mobile-readable version of content – although with over 85% of mobile search results now deemed “mobile friendly”, they’ll stop showing this label in the search results, considering this a “battle won”.

Following their ongoing aim to reward sites that give a good user experience – from the content to the way a user can navigate the site – their next target is to tackle sites which use intrusive data collection and promotion methods:

  • Popups asking for a newsletter signup
  • Overlaid ads that appear after a few seconds
  • Page layouts where the majority of the view on loading is taken up by an advert

Source: Google

Originally a check for sites that prompted users to install an App, Google considers these to be a poor user experience, and will begin demoting sites and pages that do this from 2017.

It doesn’t mean they want to punish all ads and data collection routes, for example they also say:

Source: Google

It’s just one of many signals that Google uses to determine where to rank sites for searches – maybe it won’t be too much of a penalty, but our belief is this will be one of the stronger signals, and hence popups, large banner ads and interstitials are something to avoid using on a mobile website.