· 7 min read

Can a Popup Affect Your SEO? & Google's Requirements for Displaying Pop-ups

"Are pop-ups bad for SEO?" and "What are Google's rules for displaying pop-up?"

We will go through which types of pop-ups would impact your SEO efforts negatively and which ones have the power to turn your visitors into customers without carrying any risk of being penalized by Google.

Then, you will learn how to use pop-ups on your website efficiently without harming your previous SEO operations.

Various studies show that pop-ups are very effective in obtaining impressive conversion rates. As you already know, it is difficult to get the attention of a visitor when they reach your website. This is where the need for pop-ups with clear calls-to-action and a good design arises.

Although pop-ups commanding the screen get higher engagement, they may detract from the overall user experience on a website and be perceived as aggravating. You need to be very careful about the display time and the way you show pop-ups to website visitors!

Since January 10, 2017, Google penalizes websites having "intrusive interstitials". This basically means that if a pop-up, or any secondary content on your website, doesn't have any relation with your products, your brand or something improving customer experience, it will have a negative impact on your Google rankings.

Intrusive Interstitials

Three display option of intrusive interstitials

Google penalizes intrusive interstitials because they are difficult to close down, reduce user experience on the website, and appear spammy. Because of the focus of indexing on mobile platforms, having a website that is riddled with interstitials will affect your search engine result page (SERP) rankings.

Here are some characteristics of intrusive interstitials;

  • Include a major part of your content from a webpage,
  • Appear before users access the website's content,
  • The layout makes the upper portion appear to be interstitial.

To expand upon the subject, there are a couple of different types of pop-up crackdowns such as the new window pop-up, which enables many browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox to stop them automatically to enhance customer experience.

Take a look at our mobile popup guide to avoid any mistakes that might affect your SEO badly.

Let's investigate in detail the types of pop-ups influencing your SEO rankings negatively and positively.

How Pop-ups Interact with SEO Ranking Factors?

Pop-ups are on-site elements carrying different effects on user experience. Let's look at the different pop-up types and how they interact with SEO ranking factors;

Overlay Pop-ups

overlay pop up example of revolve

Overlay pop-ups are opened in the same browser window and layered on top of page content. Overlays are not widely used for effective marketing and increasing conversions and visitor engagements, despite their ability to maintain good user experience. If implemented correctly, these pop-ups are;

  • SEO friendly,
  • Great for mobile notification,
  • Good for displaying important messages,
  • Effective in email capturing,
  • Attention-drawing with relevant content.

Modal Pop-ups

Modal pop up example save $20 email subscription

Modal pop-ups are very similar to overlay pop-ups. The difference is that modals are used for required actions like notifications and login windows. Businesses prefer them a lot because these notifications or actions are vital to user experiences. They are;

  • SEO friendly
  • Unignorable by website visitors,
  • Generating clicks for attractive value propositions,
  • Effective in collecting email adresses.

New Window Pop-ups

These pop-ups are displayed outside the main website browser window. Google and other search engines don't like new window pop-ups which are rarely used except by spammy websites because they;

  • Damage user experience,
  • Reduce ease of website navigation,
  • Are hard to close.

Interstitial Pop-ups

Interstitial popup example of forbes

These pop-ups cover the page content and require a predetermined wait time before a visitor can reach the website content. You have probably not seen an interstitial pop-up on high-ranking websites because they decrease customer engagement, although expected to do quite the opposite. They;

  • Lower user experience,
  • Carry the risk of being penalized in SERP rankings,
  • May be removed from your website by authorities like Google, so your money can go to waste.

To sum up, we suggest that you avoid "new window pop-ups" and "interstitial pop-ups," and instead use "overlay pop-ups" and "modal pop-ups."

You should pay close attention to UX when creating popups. Find out the best method from our recipe: Target Black Friday Shoppers with UX-Friendly Gamified Popups

How to Take Advantage of Pop-ups Without Affecting SEO Unfavorably?

Cookie disclaimer pop up example by H&M

1. Avoid using pop-ups or interstitials that include much of the main content of your website.

2. Display sidebar, lightbox, full screen, and floating pop-ups that are attractive, prominent and don't aggravate visitors.

3. Predetermine the timing of a pop-up display. Let your visitors go through the website's contents and even click on a website element before a pop-up appears.

4. Look at the traffic source that your visitor comes from, then display pop-ups according to source characteristics and your business goals.

5. Make the pop-up content simple, attractive, and relevant. State the desired action of your business briefly on display.

6. Offer something valuable to make your visitors continue to browse on the website after closing the pop-up or even to encourage clicking on the pop-up. You can offer something like a free eBook for Conversion Rate Optimization Guide to collect email addresses of prospects.

7. Cooperate with a pop-up service offering scroll-trigger, traffic source, and exit-intent trigger features.

Google's aim is always to improve the user-experience. It believes these intrusive interstitials lower experience and impact bounce rate, exit rate, and even time-on-site of a website. This is why Google interrupts the way you do digital marketing.

So, be careful when you select a popup builder. Popupsmart offers conversion-ready pop-ups that comply with Google's requirements.

I hope this content is beneficial for all your digital efforts. Pop-ups are a great way to optimize your website conversions in your desired manner. Additionally, using them wisely would also increase your website's search engine results' ranking!