How Pop Up Windows and The Latest Mobile-Friendly Update Affects You

Welland Creative

From January 2017 Google are updating the “mobile friendly” algorithm, especially in regard to pop up windows and overlays that can block content on mobile devices. Does this spell the end for your ‘sign up to our mailing list’ pop up? Read the detail of the update and how it affects you here.

Mobile Friendly SEO & The Interstitial SEO Update

Pop up windows mobile friendly update

Pop up windows for special offers or chances to join mailing lists are pretty much a staple of modern e-commerce websites. The interstitial (to give them their technical name) has proven really useful for lead capture and a boom to many businesses conversion rates.  However, with responsive design becoming the norm, not many companies have given much thought to how these work for mobile users.

With Google’s never-ending drive for the perfect user experience, pop up ads are likely to change.  A few days ago the search engine issued a notification that they have modified their mobile algorithm to ensure that content blocking pop ups do not interfere with mobile user experience.  From January 2017 sites that have what they consider to be a content blocking pop up will be penalised in search rankings.  For many sites this makes it important to review their pop ups, overlays or whatever you want to call them!

What is affected?

If a user has to dismiss an interstitial before accessing the content and it is not a legal requirement such as cookie compliance or age verification.  This means discount codes, mailing lists, sale notifications and the like will be in breach of the new directive.

Delayed time pop ups are also included in the “penalty”.  Showing a pop up “immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page” is now considered intrusive by the search engine.

content blocking popup on mobilePop up windows mobile friendly update  andexample of an unacceptable interstitial on mobile device

The solution!

The solution for websites currently using an interstitial like the ones above is to consider removing it for mobile visitors and replacing it with an easy dismissible banner.  The image used by google in their blog shows the kind of banner that would not incur their wrath.


At this point there is no clarification where mobile begins and ends for this update, however in general Google’s description of devices would indicate mobile as referring to smartphones and not tablets. On the Google developer’s website Google state… “We consider tablets as devices in their own class, so when we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition”. 1

You can find the official Google blog post here –
From – Understanding the difference between devices.

If you’re concerned about how these changes will affect your mobile or responsive website, get in touch with Welland today.

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