Google to penalise sites with pop-up ads

You’ve probably been to hundreds of sites where you have only just started reading through the page when an obtrusive pop up ad appears, requiring you to dismiss it before continuing to the page.

In an update on the Google’s Webmasters blog, the company announced plans to negatively rank pages that show these types of ‘interstitial’ ads or pop up content.

So what exactly does this include?

The official examples from Google give a good starting point, but it’s hard to know exactly what will be included:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

While this change is significant, and certainly something to be aware of, for most business websites this shouldn’t mean the end of the world. The types of sites this is most likely to have a large impact on are large, high-traffic websites that use display advertising.

The main thing to watch for that could pose a problem for the average business website are popups for things like a newsletter signups, discount offers or vouchers etc that could hurt your search rankings.

These types of pop ups, especially when used carefully, can be very effective marketing tools, so it will be interesting to see how these will have to adapt, and it seems likely that making these more subtle and integrated with regular content will be the best way forward.

For business owners, the important thing it to stay aware of these updates and keep an eye on analytics to see if your site is affected. While these search algorithm changes can be an inconvenience for business owners, this one in particular is will help make the web a slightly less annoying place, and at the end of the day, that’s a good thing.