Top 8 Tips for an SEO-Friendly Pop-up Use

When was the last time you got annoyed with those little boxes that pop out of nowhere when you’re casually scrolling through a website?

It probably happened recently. And yes, there are the bad and the good ways to do it without ruining your SEO.

Let’s see how to use popups to give the best user experience possible.

1. Get to Know the Difference Between the Good and the Bad

Last year, Google announced penalties for intrusive interstitials or the ones that make mobile content less accessible. Remember that the term “interstitial” includes modals, overlays, and most pop-ups. However, not every interstitial is intrusive if you know a few basic rules.

First, the new window pop-ups that are hard to get rid of are a no-go. Some browsers disable them automatically, and Google hates those kinds of pop-ups.

Other interstitials that can ruin the UX and eventually harm your position in the SERPs are:

  • Content-covering pop-ups which literally prevent users from seeing the content that’s behind them and are forced to close them
  • Overlays that are impossible to close
  • Spammy modals where you can’t return to the content below them
  • A couple of consecutive window interstitials that prevent you from seeing the homepage

After you learned which ones to avoid, it’s time to make the pick.

2. Choose the Appropriate Design and Size

Nothing says “Go away” more than a poorly designed pop-up. If the user is confused what you want from him and scared to leave their email in the first place, re-designing is necessary.

Also, huge mobile interstitials where you can’t find a close button will make the viewer close the website altogether. Make sure to have responsive pop-ups that don’t disturb the overall mobile UX.

pop-up use

Source: The Social Media Hat

3. Minimize the Pop-up Use

What kind of audience visits your site? Do they like the interstitials with the newest offers or discounts? Which interstitials convert better?

If the pop-ups have low conversion rates and stand there only to annoy visitors, it’s best to remove them. What’s more, having too many pop-ups ruins the mobile experience.

On the other hand, desktop interstitials are more than welcome, and Google is not as strict when it comes desktop pop-up use. So, consider incorporating them on certain pages.

4. Be Cautious with Permitted but Intrusive Interstitials

Some of the ads you can have on the page are intrusive, but Google (still) isn’t penalizing them. They’re allowed for now but beware of using them in the near future.

Page-to-page interstitials are permitted. However, they spoil the UX and it is wise to avoid them.

5. What About the Gray Area?

Google’s decision on interstitial penalties is sometimes unpredictable, and it’s good to know that language selector pop-ups might be devalued. It’s important to keep an eye on the site performance when using the “gray area” pop-ups, like live chat windows and sticky sidebars. Following is an example of an intrusive pop-up.

pop-up use

Source: The Media Briefing

6. Keep the Timing Right

Users hate when there are a couple of windows preventing them to even see the homepage. Better to implement one pop-up that disappears after a few seconds of inactivity than having a few that block the content on the page.

Furthermore, the page content has to be effective to keep the people on the site. So, not only do you have to have the right timing, but the content as well.

7. Choose the Triggered Pop-ups

Triggered pop-up use is more convenient for users and less intrusive than the random windows that pop out of nowhere. If the interstitials are hidden before triggering them, you’re completely safe as far as penalizing goes.

These pop-ups can be used for email subscriptions or content upgrades, just make sure to optimise them for mobile devices.

8. Put Yourself in the User’s Shoes

All of the aforementioned rules can be used for the optimal pop-up use. Otherwise, the user’s path gets interrupted and you end up with high bounce rates.

The last tip we can give you is to think like a customer and see whether there are pop-ups that annoy you and what you can do to enhance the user experience.