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Pop ups… love them or hate them ?

Google have announced recently (24th August 2016) that they will be taking action against mobile sites in future that use pop-ups that display over the top of the page contents and make it difficult to see it. Google explained their reasons behind the decision stating “Pages that show intrusive interstitials [elements that cover the content] provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible”.

Pop-ups required for legal reasons such as those that advise the visitor that you use cookies on your site are excluded.

This means that sites using these intrusive pop-ups may not rank as highly in Google’s mobile search results in future. They have advised that this new restriction will be included in the search algorithms from the 10th January 2017.

The use of pop-ups on websites has always been controversial. The Nielsen Norman Group, a leader in the web user experience (UX) field, carried out research back in 2004 which concluded that pop-ups were “the most hated web experience”. Published results from another study in the US showed that around 70% of Americans said that they got annoyed with irrelevant pop-up ads. I could not find a similar study in the UK but I’m sure it will be similar.

On the other hand, there is a lot of data to indicate that pop-ups used well and considerately, can result in improved click-throughs and sign-ups where the pop-ups are relevant to the site content rather than for non-related advertising topics.

The rise of annoying pop-up ads has led to a steady growth in pop-up blocking functions for browsers which has had a big negative effect on on-line marketing.

I guess we will need to wait and see how things go in the industry but remember if you intend to continue to use pop-ups on your website, make sure they are relevant to the page and not intrusive or annoying.

Steve Wood owns and runs Scalar Enterprises based in Portsmouth in Hampshire. He offers a range of services including Web design and Internet marketing to small businesses and SMEs in Hampshire and the surrounding areas.

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