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Google to Lower Rankings for Sites with Intrusive Popups, Removes “Mobile-Friendly” Label

Google’s latest announcement shows the search engine’s continuing service for its mobile users:

  • Google will remove the “Mobile-Friendly” label from mobile search results
  • Google may lower rankings for sites with intrusive popups in January 2017

Both updates will help mobile users more easily reach the content they need.

“Mobile-Friendly” Label to be Removed

Google is removing the label that appears next to mobile-friendly sites that appear on mobile search results. Google will remove the label to “keep search results uncluttered.”

Google introduced the “mobile-friendly” label in 2014. Now, 85% of pages in the mobile SERPs are mobile-friendly. With AMP labels, ads, review stars, and other labels drawing attention, one less label should help smooth out the search results page or users.

Mobile-friendliness will continue to be a Google ranking signal.

Kill Your Popups, or See Lower Rankings

Google has said it will lower rankings for sites where “content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results.” These are primarily sites obscured by interstitials like popup ads. This change will occur after January 10, 2017.

Examples of bad interstitials

Google gave several examples of interstitials that would likely result in lower rankings.

  • Popups that cover the main content, either immediately or over time
  • Popups that users must dismiss before seeing the main content
  • A layout with an above-the-fold that looks like a popup, but the main content is inlined beneath it

Examples of interstitials that may result in lower rankings are popups that cover the main content.

Examples of okay interstitials

Google also gave examples of popups that probably would not be affected by the new signal (if used “responsibly”).

  • Legal obligations like cookie usage agreements or age verification
  • Private content that requires a login
  • Banners that take up a “reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible”

Good examples of interstitials that will likely not be affected by the new signal are cookie agreements and age verification popups.

Google has also added a signal that checks for app-install popups, a check they were previously experimenting with. This led to Google expanding their focus on popups and interstitials more widely.

Google says the new signal is still one of hundreds used to rank websites. A site with great content can still rank highly. However, come January 2017, sites that still provide poor user experiences with intrusive popups can expect lower site rankings.

About Eric Seal

Eric SealEric has written copy for hundreds of blog posts, press releases, and website pages across a wide range of industries, from upscale luggage vendors and industrial warehouse equipment to luxury international hotels. His ability to write engaging content while maintaining a client’s brand and voice has made him a valuable member of the SEO Inc. team. Eric holds a BA in Literature and Writing from Cal State University San Marcos.