Effects on Google mobile website rankings: Google released a statement on 10 January 2017 (updating their notice from last year) advising users that any websites that have content that is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly as a website that is easily accessible to a user. Google went on to say that this is just one of hundreds of signals used in ranking, reassuring users that if the content is relevant, good content, then it may still rank highly.

So what does that mean for your website? Well, it basically means that if you have a pop up on the mobile version your website 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, your website’s usability may be affected, and it may not rank as highly in Google search result pages.

Some examples Google provided included if the website displays a standalone “interstitial” (an advertisement or pop-up content that appears while a chosen website or page is downloading) that the user has to dismiss before being able to access the main content of the website, then the website may not rank as high. Another, using a layout where the upper half of a web page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content appears in the lower half of the website, meaning that the user needs to scroll down the page to see the content.

google mobile website rankings
Image Source: Google Webmaster Blog

The following examples would affect mobile website rankings by the new signal provided they were used responsibly:

  • Interstitials that are in response to a legal obligation, including cookie usage or for verifying the age of the user.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable (including private content such as email or unindexable content behind a paywall).
  • Banners that use an appropriate amount of screen space and are easy to dismiss (app install banners used by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use an appropriate amount of screen space).
google mobile website rankings
Image Source: Google Webmaster Blog

It’s important to reiterate that this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used for mobile website rankings. The actual intent of the search query remains a very strong signal, so it is possible for a page to continue to rank highly if it has content that is relevant.

Got Questions? Need Advice or Google mobile website rankings?

Contact the team at PN Digital to discuss how your website’s pop-ups and banners may be effecting your Google presence and what your alternative options are.