Home Page Pop ups May Increase Bounce Rate
When it comes to Pop up ads and Google, it pays to get familiar with Google’s current policies and penalties. If you rely on your website to attract new business, give the visitor a reason to stay on the site a while. Websites that assault the visitor with an ad, a form, or a lengthy promotional message lose prospects early. Lacking engagement with your content, the visitor “bounces” off your website. Bounce Rate is the amount of time a page is viewed before the visitor leaves the site or “pogos” back to the search bar.
My first rule of thumb for pop ups on your home page is this: it should not load before the home page, and it should not obstruct your view of important page content. Sometimes – only while shopping – I welcome a discount purchase code served up in a pop up ad. Unless you are giving the visitor a great incentive for staying on your website, consider carefully timing the appearance of your pop up message or subscription form.
Google Penalties for Pop ups
As a disincentive to using invasive interstitials on your home page, Google states they will downgrade your website’s relevance and make it harder to find. If a pop up obstructs the visitor’s view of important information, especially on a mobile screen, your website loses some credibility on the web. An interstitial is NOT considered invasive if it is contained to a small area and has a clear link to close the ad.
Since 2017, Google altered their opinion on pop up ads. Their policy states that Intrusive interstitials and dialogs are page elements that obstruct users’ view of the content, usually for promotional purposes. That’s why, starting after January 10, 2017, pages with pop ups that make it hard to access content may hurt your website’s ranking in search results.
What is an Intrusive Interstitial?
An intrusive interstitial is a pop up ad, a form, or an overlay that blocks visitors from viewing the content they are trying to view on your website. This is especially frustrating for mobile users, who may have to work a little to locate the “close” button. Not only does this annoy and inconvenience your visitors, your ad makes it difficult for Google and other search engines to understand your content.
Do you hire a web designer to install your pop up and/or pay for Search Engine Optimization or social media ads? You risk throwing away all the traffic you have paid for only to hide your homepage behind an annoying obstacle. When you must install a pop up containing some type of dialog, use banners instead of full page interstitials. A thin html banner ensures that your visitors and search engines can get to the content they are looking for. More from Google:
Avoid common mistakes
Unless they’re legally mandatory, avoid the following common mistakes when designing a dialog or interstitial to help Google Search crawl and understand your content:
- Don’t obscure the entire page with interstitials.
- Don’t redirect the user to a separate page for their consent or input.
My bottom line on pop up announcements that overlay your home page: I do not recommend them. Like many people, I cannot tolerate pop ups or ads flying into a home page, and I leave right away. Since most modern websites have full-width hero images or banner slides, you can put your important message on the first slide. It will be the first content your visitor sees, and they may freely access the information they seek.
Case Report, and a Cautionary Tale?
This is a repost of an old Case Study published in May 2014, entitled ‘Who Are You?’ Is your online identity crisis hurting your organic search visibility? I often speak to small business owners about improving their online visibility, notably in local search results.
Does your website suffer from identity crisis? In this post, a local antique store asked why their website was not performing well on Google search. The antique shop website had four separate aims, and had constantly rotating stock of consignment items that were not adequately described for search bots. Also, none of their informational pages were composed using key phrases or descriptions. Sometimes I am asked to take a look at older websites to determine how to improve sales, increase qualified leads, or position the company as an expert in whatever it is the proprietor does best.
Almost a decade ago, I was called by a prospect who explained his profession, qualified himself as an expert in his field, and asked whether I might be of assistance in stimulating online sales. We spoke at least an hour, I took careful notes, visited his website, and agreed to formulate a plan based on my findings and what his competitors might be doing. I asked who managed the online store, and was told their ‘programmer’ managed the database. The task as I comprehended it was to improve online sales.
Three hours later my phone rang and the prospect’s wife gave me an entirely new diatribe about what she expected from her website. She wanted people to give them consignments to sell in their store. More stuff to sell versus more online sales. I told her the plan I had detailed for her husband: that I would take a look at the content and improve the meta tags and other source code on their web pages. When I said “meta tags” I heard her hold the telephone out and yell across the room to her husband that she didn’t know what I was talking about.
So conversation number three begins and they now want me to be their webmaster. The site they wanted help with is not ecommerce-enabled, rather random items are rotated through the home page and an internal search engine accesses the inventory database. The online store is linked to the company site. Now they were talking about overhauling the online store so every item would have its own page… for an inventory of 900 items.
My Analysis and Recommendations
A month later after finally being given access to the web pages, I uncovered some messy code, some best-practice errors, and silly keyword and description choices. Repairs, tests, more tweaks and tests were made, and after carefully reading the active and defunct pages, this is what I discovered. The plain html pages revealed four separate identities and goals for this one company website: as a venue for
1. ecommerce sales for their vintage and collectible wares
2. asking for consignments for sale in the online and/or physical store
3. obtaining appraisals, particularly for estates
4. offering showroom floor or cabinet display space in the physical store
What I Changed
All page titles, keywords and phrases, and descriptions were tailored to the category or the information on each of the main pages. A sitemap was prepared and submitted to major search engines such as Google and Bing. I wrote a detailed report, mailed it to the company with my assessment and edits with an invoice. They never paid me, they would not answer their phone when I called, and within a year they had closed their doors.
If you have an existing website, especially an extensive product catalog, decide how you want to frame your online identity. When your brand has a good reputation and your company longevity makes you known for more than one specialty, be sure to have a separate page for each specialty, and don’t be shy about tailoring the page source code titles, descriptions and keywords for each identity. Remember that your content is being read by humans, but indexed and given relevancy by search bots. There is no point in citing keywords in the source code that do not appear in the page content.
Get a jump start on website promotion when you utilize social media in a small business. Anyone with a Facebook account has been asked to participate in “likes”, “follows” and “comments” by vendors, service providers and blog sites. You feel you should be utilizing the new social technologies in your marketing efforts, but what do you do after opening your account?
Keeping it real on Facebook
Facebook has been described as the number-one time suck on the net. As a platform for families, extended families and friends, folks can be themselves, reveal their inner children, share the fun, and continue conversations. Facebook ‘friends’ were friends, the site was a neat place to meet, share the love, plan real get-togethers, and share pictures of vacation spots and the grandkids. Many offices have their staff wired to the internet, and many people keep their facebook page open all day!
The environment for the entrepreneur and business, though, is not casual and carefree, and commentary is not always friendly. A spontaneous comment or shared political post potentially opens your thread to everyone, including people who have little else to do than spew (ever see YouTube or Yahoo comments threads?) … there are haters, spammers and flamers lurking everywhere.
This summer I found an award-winning social media marketing training resource which outlined the basic tenets of today’s major social media sites. Though Facebook dominates (today), there are new sites opening up every few months. While you may have dismissed Facebook as a fad, know that it dominates the social sharing world (today), and thousands of companies are exploiting the site as a low-cost marketing medium.
If you are like me and other busy sole-proprietors, you may have experienced “paralysis by analysis”. If you have a company Facebook page, a LinkedIn profile and a list of existing clients, I can help you learn the basics, and together we can map out a long-range plan to monetize your efforts or attract new clientele. Existing clients will be billed at my prevailing website design rates and may contract my services on a monthly basis.