Nonprofits raise a lot of money off of homepage and interior page popups and overlays, especially during year-end fundraising and urgent campaigns. Google recently announced though that starting January 2017, they will penalize websites that use popups on mobile as they find it intrusive and a poort user experience. "This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller, said Google in blog post.
Google will penalize the following popups:
- Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.
Google WILL NOT penalize the following popups:
- Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
An example of a banner that uses a reasonable amount of screen space
I don't typically recommend popups on mobile, but this new policy has me worried that Google will soon penalize popups on desktop, which could negatively impact SEO for nonprofit websites. At the same time, it's important to remember that there are 100+ indicators that impact website search rank. "The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content," said Google.