To use or not to use pop-ups?
That is the question.
Specifically, it’s the question on a lot of SEO experts’ minds since January, when Google’s began devaluing intrusive pop-up ads along with other intrusive interstitials that might diminish mobile user experience.
Of course, pop-up advertising works.
The average conversion rate of high-performing pop-ups is 9.28 percent.
Heck, just over a year ago I wrote an article about pop-up goals and how to get more people to click your content.
Understandably, many businesses are loath to lose such an important part of their funnel.
So if you can’t afford to lose interstitials entirely but don’t want fall afoul of a Google penalty, what do you do?
Here are seven tips that will help you use pop-ups intelligently without risking your SEO.
1. Understand Which Interstitials Are No-goes
Google’s mobile interstitial penalty specifically targets intrusive interstitials.
Note that “interstitial” is a broad term that can be widely applied to most pop-ups, overlays, and modals, but not all interstitials are considered equally intrusive.
As a general rule of thumb, if your interstitials are spammy, difficult to dismiss, or diminish your users’ experience, your mobile page may be devalued.
And, because Google’s indexing is now mobile-first, this may hurt your positions in the SERPs more than you realize.
The following are all examples of interstitials that make your content less accessible:
Content-covering pop-ups that users are forced to close to continue reading.
Standalone interstitials that must be dismissed before users can access your content.
Deceptive page layouts whose above-the-fold portion looks like an interstitial.
You should also avoid ads that Google’s known to dislike and has penalized in the past, including:
Classic interstitial ads and splash ads that interrupt users as they navigate between pages and/or before they reach your homepage.
New window pop-ups that open as soon as a user clicks on your page.
Welcome mats, new window pop-ups, and other intrusive ads.
Overlay modals that are difficult to close and/or easily redirect visitors who accidentally click on them.
Intrusive lightbox ads and pop-ups.