Popups are an interesting thing. On one hand they’ve been proven to increase conversions and sales. On the other hand, they can be incredibly annoying and detract from the overall user experience. In a worst case scenario, they’ll send potential clients running never to return.
Google recently announced that they will start cracking down on this practice and will penalize popups that are overly intrusive. Let’s discuss the details and what this means for your law firm’s website.
According to Google, “it will begin cracking down on ‘intrusive interstitials’ on January 10, 2017, because this type of ad can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.” The term “intrusive interstitials” refers to an advertisement that loads between two pages and is a form of interruption marketing that takes away from the user experience.
Although they often elicit a response, they can also receive an equal amount of resentment. And it’s easy to see why. How many times have you attempted to browse a site only to be disrupted by an irritating popup?
The Reason Behind This Update
The main reason why Google is making this change is because more and more people are accessing websites via their mobile devices. With over half (56 percent) of web traffic from leading websites coming from mobile devices, it can be extremely disruptive when users are hit with ugly popups. They can engulf the entire screen and create a real usability issue. In keeping with Google’s campaign for mobile-friendliness, this update totally makes sense.
What are the Consequences?
Google also said that “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” In other words, websites with intrusive interstitials may be penalized by having their ranking lowered in search results. This is obviously problematic, and it’s not going to do your law firm any favors if your organic traffic volume is significantly reduced.
What Should I Do?
If you don’t currently use any popups on your law firm’s site, you have nothing to worry about. This update won’t affect you. But if you do have popups, you have one of two options.
The first option is to simply eliminate popups altogether. By erring on the side of caution, you’ll know for sure that your rankings won’t take a hit.
The second option is to adjust your popups so that they’re not as intrusive. For example, you could:
- Stay away from full-page popups
- Make them smaller
- Make it so visitors don’t see them until they scroll further down your site
- Use timed popups that only appear after the visitor has been exploring your site for a certain amount of time
Regardless, I would recommend keeping tabs on your organic search traffic in late January and early February of 2017. If there’s a noticeable a drop off, it could very well be because of this Google update. But by being aware and playing by Google’s rules, you should be able to maintain (or even increase) your organic traffic next year.
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