The Effect of Interstitial Ads or Pop Ups on SEO

By September 13, 2016 No Comments

Did you know that Google recently updated it’s algorithm to penalize websites that use interstitial ads? Interstitial ads, also know as pop ups, are commonly used on websites to promote marketing content or as paid advertisements throughout the site. In an effort to improve mobile search experience, Google has made changes over time to incentivize websites to work on their mobile-friendliness. To continue these efforts another area of focus for Google has been to reduce intrusive pop ups that obstruct visitors from landing on the content they’re looking for. Failing to abide by Google’s updates could have a negative impact on your SEO.

What is an interstitial ad or pop up?

A pop up or interstitial ad is a content offer or advertisement that appears as an overlay over your page content. Typically a user will have to perform an action in order to remove it from the page. This includes exiting out of the pop up or filling out information in order to enter the site. These types of ads are usually timed to influence website visitors during actions that make sense. For example if they are searching through a certain page, showing them a relevant content offer on that page once they’ve spent a few seconds scrolling through it makes sense for that visitor. With Google’s new update, you may need to rethink how you use interstitial ads or pop ups on your website.

How interstitial ads or pop ups affect SEO

In an effort to continue rewarding websites that are mobile friendly, interstitial ads or pop ups are a new area that Google is focussing on. When you have a interstitial ad or pop up on your web page that breaks the following rules google will penalize you starting January 10, 2017:

  1. Your web page’s pop up covers up the main content on the page making it difficult to understand where you’ve landed.
  2. The interstitial ad or pop up appears at the top of the web page above the fold, so you have to scroll down to see the main content.
  3. The web page’s interstitial ad covers the entire web page and you must exit out of the ad in order to access the content.

If the interstitial ads or pop ups on your website fall under any of these 3 categories you may need to rethink their placement. Rework the timing and location of your pop ups so that they don’t jeopardize the user’s mobile experience when surfing through your site. You can also reduce the size and change the placement to below the fold so that it doesn’t immediately affect the main content on the page.

Rules to follow so that your SEO isn’t penalized

There are some exceptions to Google’s new update for how interstitial ads or pop ups are used. One of the exceptions is that interstitials that include legal language to enter a site, for example if you have to inform your visitors that your website uses cookies, will not be penalized. Another exception is if the content has a barrier with a purpose, and leads to a page that is not indexed in Google. For example, if a website visitor has to be a certain age in order to enter your site, interstitials or pop ups to verify the visitors age will not affect your SEO. If the interstitial ad or pop up on your website does not fall under those two category exceptions, here are some rules to follow so that you aren’t penalized:

Interstitial ad or pop up replacement yelp example

  1. Use banners instead of interstitial ads or pop ups
  2. Use a reasonable amount of space on the page
  3. Do not cover the main page content
  4. Move your pop up below the fold
  5. Change the timing of your pop up so that it doesn’t immediately appear on the page
  6. Reduce the frequency of your pop ups
  7. Create mobile friendly web pages that are indexed to remove the need for interstitial ads or pop ups (See the Yelp web page example to the right)

Staying on top of Google’s updates will allow you to constantly keep your website up to date so that you remain mobile friendly. The more mobile friendly your website, the better your SEO ranking. If your website suffers from interstitial ad or pop up overload, now is the time to update your content so that you aren’t penalized.

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