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.