iiStarting this week, Google will start penalizing websites that use popups (also known as "interstitials") on their pages. Specifically, there are three elements — according to Google — that could get your site penalized:

  • 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.
By blocking interstitials, Google hopes to encourage websites to create more accessible user experiences. Here are some examples of popups that Google sees as "intrusive":

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-10-45-57-amAs a store owner, this means that you should no longer have popups on your site that customers must close before accessing the main content, such as newsletter sign up boxes or store sale announcements. This might be a frustrating blow to your marketing efforts, but here are some ways you can still get customers' eyes on content you want them to see:

  • Banner ads. Working some ad space into your design is a great way to let customers know about the big sale you're having, or the free shipping that's being offered on certain orders. For advice on creating banner ads, read this!
  • Email campaigns. Keep customers in the loop with email campaigns detailing your current offers. For more info on how to use email marketing, check out this post.
  • Prominent email signup boxes. Again, you might need to redesign your site a bit to get certain content noticed. If you currently have an interstitial that collects customer emails, consider redesigning your site navigation so that there's a prominent email signup box on the homepage.
Google's new popup policies might mean making some business changes, which is never easy. But by staying on their good side, your site will remain searchable...and profitable!

Do you have any questions about Google's new interstitial rules? Ask them in the comments!