How to Stay Ahead of Google’s Non-Intrusive Popup Update

Dave Berning
Sep 18, 2016 · 3 min read

The Problem

Google recently announced that on January 10, 2017 it will begin penalizing sites with “intrusive interstitials”. The reason being that intrusive popups are disruptive to the mobile user experience and “can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

Interstitials With A Negative Impact

Google has detailed which types of interstitials that will have a negative impact on your website.

  • 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.

Interstitials With No Impact

If you have a popup that uses a reasonable amount of space or have popups for age verification or legal obligations, you’ll be fine. Google has detailed the positive popups below.

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

The Problem

This is great for users! Google usually has the user’s be interest in mind when shipping out large updates like this. This isn’t the first time too. Last year, Google released an update that encourages mobile optimization and SSL certificates.

Although great for the user, this is not so great if you are an online business that relies on these popups for online marketing. If you don’t want to update your popups you must ask yourself, “Do I want more online subscribers or higher SEO page rank on Google?”

Although great for the user, this is not so great if you are an online business that relies on these popups for online marketing. If you don’t want to update your popups you must ask yourself, “Do I want more online subscribers or higher SEO page rank on Google?”

It’s important to stay ahead of the SEO curve. If you don’t want to fall behind you must adopt new ways of achieving the same goal. With all that said, there are some solutions that give you the popup functionality while still being compliant with Google’s upcoming update.

A Possible Solution

Below is a pen I wrote that is compliant with Google’s new update: “Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.”

This solution is a small full width banner that is fixed to the bottom of the viewport. The user is able to click on the bar to expand a newsletter signup form or easily dismiss it completely. This example will even animate to try and grab the user’s attention if at all ignored.

An example of a non-instrusive popup

The main thing to take away is that Google’s update gives the power to the user. If the user wants to signup for a newsletter, then they can…on their terms. Online marketers and businesses need to be able to embrace this to preserve their SEO efforts and subscribers.


Originally published at daveberning.io on September 18, 2016.

Dave Berning

Written by

Software Engineer from Cincinnati. I work on JavaScript apps with Vue.js. Writer for Alligator.io, Front End Weekly, and organizer of the #CodePenCIN meetup.

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