Do Google *hate* pop-ups?

With Google’s recent announcement that, come Jan 2017, they are going to crack down on annoying interstitials (pop-ups to you and me), especially when on mobile.

Now I can pretty much be sure that we’ve all been annoyed by a pop-up on a website at some point; so I’m sure we can all sympathise with what Google are trying to do. And let’s put aside for the moment that Google somehow have the tech which can not penalise a pop-up which it says is ok (e.g. cookie acceptance).

The Case Against Pop-ups

I hate it when I visit a website and the first thing that happens is a blooming great pop-up is twonked right in front of my face. Hey?! What happened?! Where did that come from? I would guess that this disorienting, uncomfortable experience (especially on mobile), is exactly the type of thing Google want to suppress in their search results.

The Case For

However, I would argue that this isn’t the technique that’s at fault yet; it’s the way it has been used. I mean, if you land on a new website, it’s too early to present someone with such an ‘in-your-face’ offer, that’s just waaaay too fast for a first date. We need to go through a few steps first, let’s try and qualify the person and then make an offer.

Many websites (especially the lead generation or validation types) fail because they don’t make any kind of offer – they are too passive. If someone has visited (say) 10 pages, or has scrolled down a long article, then why not present them with an offer? It’s all about context. Test it.

And if you didn’t know that the rules which govern when a pop-up can display could be that complex, then sure. If you take a look at something like OptinMonster, they have a very detailed rules engine which allow for all manner of targeting; we can be a lot more subtle and contextual than just the massive pop-up-in-the-face-routine when you first visit a site.

To Conclude

It’s right for Google to be concerned about this. We’ve all seen examples of bad practice. We tend to advise our clients that less is more, if you’re going to use them, be subtle and be contextual.


p.s. and bear in mind that ‘pop-up’ is a catch all phrase here (which is why Google prefer interstitial). The likes of OptinMonster offer many types of display facility, not all of which are affected by Google’s latest sabre rattling exercise.

p.p.s. this is worth a read as well



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