Search Tip – Using an Email Pop-over? Google Changes that Impact You.

The Skinny

In order to improve the mobile experience for users, Google will demote websites that use intrusive interstitials (and pop-overs) on mobile after January 10, 2017.

Wait, what is an interstitial?

Commonly known as pop-over, interstitials are an overlay page that the visitor must take an action in order to view the website content. Usually these overlay pages ask you to sign up for a newsletter, enter your email for exclusive content or discounts, or provide your age or login for secure web content.

Aren’t all these things intrusive?

While you may think popovers are annoying, Google isn’t on the same page. Some interstitials are needed for a safe and legal website experience. There are two scenarios that fit this description:

1) Notification about cookies + privacy policy usage (this is particularly relevant for European users).

2) Content with restricted access – age verification for alcohol or tobacco websites or login for sensitive information.


The third type of approved interstitial is for any reason (email signups included) but only the size of a banner notification/ad. This size is not intrusive and doesn’t add friction for the visitor to the website because it does not fully cover up the content.

Another type of interstitial that is “safe” are ones that appear after the user takes an action (clicks Email Sign-up). This isn’t impacting the users experience from the search result page and does not fall into this new rule.

What does this mean for marketers?

Google recently announced that it has started mobile-first indexing (see more detail here). That means that instead of looking at the desktop version of your website’s content, Google is going to start using the mobile version of your site for indexing your website. That makes changing your pop-over to be mobile-friendly even more important.

Does your site currently use a full page pop-over on your mobile site? If the answer is yes, then make plans to get it changed so Google doesn’t start devaluing your site in search rankings. If the Google monster isn’t enough to make you change think about the overall consumer experience create friction on a small screen where your visitors are often more frustrated anyway. Make improving your mobile-experience a priority, regardless of what new thing Google is doing next.