How to Avoid Google Mobile Popup Penalty for WordPress Sites

Many people find it difficult to stay updated with the latest Google updates and trends. This negligence is most unfortunate and must be avoided at all cost. In the context of the latest Google updates, it is important to mention about the Google mobile popup penalty, which came into effect since January 10 this year. If you are still unaware about it, better read on to save your site being hit by it. This update has started creating considerable dip in mobile traffic for many businesses. So, better mend things in time, than suffer from the negligence.

The update basics:

Many experts involved with providing SEO services in Portland opine that by introducing this update, Google has initiated a shift change in ranking websites on its organic search results. By virtue of this update, pages in which, content is not smoothly accessible to mobile users, may not rank high on SERP. Though it is just one of the hundreds of other page ranking factors, yet you should not ignore it and suffer from the consequences. Google announced the mobile popup penalty quite sometime back, in 2016 August.

More than a penalty, it is devaluing pages:

Technically speaking, the Google mobile popup penalty more than penalizing your site, devalues your pages. Most websites use meaningless popups, which frustrate users. The main reason to introduce this update is to help users from this frustration. Unfortunately, people who do not keep up with the latest SEO trends and practices will probably overlook it and suffer as a result. In other words, popups will appear no more for mobile users and they will have easier and faster access to page content. This Google penalty will be applied on every applicable page of a website. In other words, your entire website will not be devalued or affected by it. Remember, the Google popup penalty is not only applicable to popups, but also to all types of invasive interstitials.

Google tips to avoid inviting the penalty:

Make sure, there is no popup to cover the main content, after user navigates to the page from organic search results.

There should not also be any delayed popup or the one that appears after user has scrolled down to a certain point on the page.

Do not display a standalone interstitial that user has to dismiss, before getting access to the main content.

Never use a layout that makes the above-the-fold part of the page look similar to a standalone interstitial and making the main content inlined beneath the fold.

Popups that are acceptable:

Not Effected Mobile POP Up

  • Push notifications are still accepted, as they take up a small portion of the screen.

  • Using cookies for age verification and other legal information that need to be collected from users

  • Exit popups can stay

  • Make sure that a banner should not take up more than a quarter of the device’s screen space.

Impact on Google Adsense:

Adsense Pop Up ads

Google mobile penalty is not going to have any affect on Google Adsense, as Page-level ads (like, vignette ads and anchor or overlay ads) stay within the accepted guidelines. Vignette ads do not show up when a visitor reaches the page from Google’s organic search result, whereas anchor level ads take up just a tiny part of the screen and can be easily dismissed. Mobile penalty is only applicable to traffic that is directly sourced from Google.

Other traffic: If your web traffic comes from sources other than Google, it is alright to use popups and it will not devalue your page.

Effect of Google popup penalty:

Some websites that have been negatively affected by Google mobile penalty, lost some 10 or more positions in their mobile ranking. Considering the volume of your traffic, losing 10 spots may sum up to losing thousands of visitors every day. On the other hand, websites that do not use popups are experiencing a steady improvement in their ranking. The possible reason for this could be, their competitors are getting penalised or facing devaluation of pages by Google popup penalty.

A practical example:

A brand experienced a 20% drop in mobile traffic after the popup penalty came into effect. Actually, there was a bug with their popup plugin and they lost about 2,000 customers in a span of 3 days. Somehow, they could not disable the WordPress plugin that was being used for popup. As soon as the problem was solved, their traffic and ranking returned within a few days.

Tips to check mobile traffic:

Mobile Traffic tracking from Analytics

If your website uses welcome mats, popups or invasive interstitials, use Google Analytics to check your traffic coming from mobile handsets. Some people, also prefer keyword rank tracker tool to meet the goal.

Step #1: Log into your Google Analytics profile and select the date range in the filter at the top with your preferred dates.

Step #2: On the left-hand side, there is “Audience”, under which is “Mobile>Overview”. On reaching here, you will see traffic coming from desktops, mobiles and tablets. In case, you notice a 15% or above drop in your traffic, then chances are high Google mobile penalty has hit your site hard.

Tips on resolving the problem:

If your site has been affected by Google mobile penalty, do not panick or get carried away. There are two options to overcome the issue. One, simply disable the WordPress popup plugin you are using. Two, just disable popups on mobile handsets and keep catering to visitors as if, they are from desktops. DubSEO is a renowned SEO company in Portland, which never uses popups on mobile handsets. At other places, where it does, it uses only at 50% scroll. This ensures, the site remains unaffected, as well as its visitors do not get annoyed. Most of the modern plugins come with the option, whether you want to use them on mobile.

Deactivate Mobile POP UP Plugins

In case, you are using WP Subscribe Pro plugin from MyThemeShop, it is better to disable the popup, as currently, there is a bug in it with detecting mobile devices. Although, these plugins come with the option of disabling, you should test on your own handset just to be absolutely sure. Welcome mats from SumoMe are also affected by the Google mobile penalty. However, if you are using these, do not get panicky. SumoMe has just added a new feature, named “Display Mode”. It is found in “Behavior” tab of the mats and this feature completely complies with Google guidelines. Moreover, you are always free to contact the developer to enquire about the popup or lead generation plugins that you are using.

Of course, you do not want your webapges to be devalued by Google as a result of its mobile penalty update. Just to play it safe, disable the popups, welcome mats and every other invasive insterstitials from your website. In case, your site gets affected by it, do not panick, things will return back to normal in a few days.

20 Feb, 2017


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