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[Google Search Update] – Google Is Looking At Mobile Popups More Closely

Did you see the latest Google search announcement?

If you missed it, the official announcement can be seen here.

But the main point is summarized below.

January 10, 2017 update: Starting today, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high. As we said, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking and the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content. Please head to the webmaster forums if you have any questions.

So what does this mean?

As you may already know, Google is big on user experience. The update is saying that if you have high-quality content your site will still rank but it might be hurt if you have mobile pop-ups blocking user’s ability to navigate your site.

Let’s be clear here, we are only talking mobile.

And we think Google has the right idea about pop-ups on mobile devices because when they are not done correctly, closing them or navigating away from them can be difficult.

The last thing you want to do is frustrate the end user.

Not every pop up is viewed the same in Google’s eyes

Here are a few examples of mobile popups type ads that Google would say harm a user’s ability to navigate a website.

Image Source: Google Webmaster Blog

Some common ways that real estate websites have used pop-ups in the past are

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Access to a report
  • Creating a free account for their service
  • Signing up for a webinar or training
  • Getting a free ebook

In Google’s eyes, these may be distracting to the user experience and therefore would be counted as a negative in their search algorithm.

However, pop-ups that are for important notices like your website’s cookie policy or a small banner that doesn’t take up the entire screen are viewed as okay and not as harmful to the user’s experience.

Some examples can be seen below.

Examples of interstitials that would not be affected

Image Source: Google Webmaster Blog

What does this mean for your website?

If you are an InvestorCarrot member, not a whole lot. We don’t have any pop-up ads built into websites because we have tested it in the past and concluded that it wouldn’t significantly help increase conversion rates (in some cases it hurt conversion rates).

The test looked like this.

Exit Pop Test Ran On InvestorCarrot websites

Here are a few snapshots of data to show you how infrequently the pop-up style offers work on InvestorCarrot websites.

You will notice that in each of these tests the conversion rate is somewhere around 1% or less. Most of these sites convert above 6% on average.

But this isn’t a 1 to 1 ratio. This isn’t saying that the 1% hurt conversion rates because these are likely leads that would not have opted in before leaving and being met with the form.

However, from a user experience stand-point, showing the pop up to every user hardly justifies us putting them on every website.

The biggest takeaway is that Google is now looking for these types of website elements.

Anytime Google makes an announcement about their algorithm it is wise to take notice.

We can conclude from this type of change that Google is still really big on user experience in the search results and how they look at websites for Mobile viewers and Desktop viewers is different in their eyes.


I love to organize and optimize. I love the intersection of people, process, and profit.

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