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Pop-ups. Should you ditch them?

October 29, 2019
Matt Southam

Research shows they are annoying, but stats show they increase conversions. What should you do?

There you are casually browsing the internet trying to find an answer for your problem and bam, the whole screen is taken over with a pop up asking you to subscribe to a mailing list. You haven’t even had a chance to read the content on the website to see if it’s relevant to you yet! Sound familiar?

If you have used the internet you will have seen pop-ups. Stats show that they do increase mailing list sign-ups but if you talk to the majority of people you will hear them say they find them annoying.

With this in mind, I am going to look at some of the reasons I feel you shouldn’t use them, but also when and how you should.

Google Ranking

The holy grail of having a website is for it to be ranking at the top of Google. So if one of your priorities is to have a high ranking site I would avoid full-screen pop-ups, especially on mobile.

Here is what Google say:

To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.

And considering Google uses mobile-first indexing this is a big deal. Although in typical Google style do note the word “may”

Here are examples that google give to what they may punish in the ranking results:

  • 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.

So, as you can see, if within a couple of seconds of landing on a website page you have a pop up blocking peoples view you may get punished by Google.

But my pop up is a special offer.

I hear this occasionally, mainly from online shops. Straight away you get offered a 5% discount for signing up. The issue I have here is that as it is so soon after landing on the website I am not sure if I want to buy from you. So I close the pop-up. Then if I do decide I like you and want to purchase from you, I feel stuck as I know I could have got 5% off! I feel I am overpaying for the product so don’t end up buying it. All round a negative experience.

But Pop-ups work

I know, I admitted that at the start. They do improve sign-ups to mailing lists but perhaps we all need to take a step back and put ourselves in the shoes of a visitor.

Look at how you can have the pop up at just the right time. Perhaps once someone has read the entire blog, or at least halfway down.

Does the popup have to be full screen? Could you just have a side one?

Other ways.

How about considering adding some animation to your sign up form. This is a great way to increase the attention the sign up will get but it doesn’t restrict the visitor from viewing the content.

You could also tie this in with a data exchange for signing up as a way to entice visitors even more. Perhaps link it with one of your top blogs.

So if it’s a blog about SEO maybe offer your top 5 tips delivered as a pdf for signing up.

You have then increased the attention and offered a thank you present. That is, in my eyes, much better than at times annoying or frustrating your website visitors.

What do you think? Send me a message on Linkedin and let me know

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