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Dear Website Pop Ups. It’s Over.

Clients & Collaborations, Digital, Social Media / Off / February 20, 2017

The humble website pop-up was every marketer’s go-to a few years ago, but with an ever-increasing focus on user experience even Google is voting for a time out.

Client – “How do I build my database without spending buckets of money?”
Marketer – “Create a free download/discount coupon/eBook (AKA lead magnet), prompt users to claim it with a pop-up and VOILA! Big database.”

Sure, that’s a simplified version but the sentiment rings true. Lead magnets have been vastly overdone, particularly because the majority that we see these days are done purely for that reason – to build a database.

But that was my main strategy! What now?

While we’re all for creating free resources that add significant value to your client’s lives, we’re calling time of death on lead magnets.

Consumers are seeing through the ‘give-to-get’ tactic. So, when a consumer invites you into their inbox – you darn well better make sure you’re making it worth their while!

User experience (UX) is paramount in every area of marketing, and this is especially true for your website. A digital shopfront for your business, your website evokes a feeling from its visitors – one that leaves a lasting impression.

In the words of George Gavalas, Head of Digital at our search partner Bonfire Group,

“The number one thing is to always think about your users and put yourself in their shoes. Would you like to be bombarded with a popup when you land on a site? It’s like walking into a store and having that annoying assistant trying to sell to you as soon as you walk through those doors.”

Ugh, no! #JustBrowsingThanks

OK, so what do I need to know?

Just like you should focus on always improving your customer experience, Google is committed to doing the same. Its latest algorithm changes (released January 10, 2017) identified that pop-ups negatively impact user experience, particularly on mobile.

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. 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.”

Bummer. I have pop-ups…. HALP?

So, you ask, do I need to immediately remove any and all pop-ups on my site? Short answer – no.
There are certain pop-ups that are required by law (ie. for age verification and cookie policies), and others that use a smaller amount of screen space or don’t cover main, indexed content. Also, if your content isn’t publicly accessible (ie. articles gated for member access only), your pop-up won’t negatively affect your site rankings.

Here’s what we do suggest:

  • Reassess your existing pop-ups – do they fall into a category above? If not, can you reduce the site so they’re less intrusive?
  • Know your numbers – Work out your conversion rate on having them on your site. If they’re your main source of leads or sales AND the majority of your traffic is coming from social media, email marketing or somewhere other than SEO, you may be happy to cop the reduced rankings.
  • Consider alternatives – if you’re advertising a free download, coupon code, etc. and you absolutely MUST use this tactic, could your offer be displayed in a sidebar or header strip?


Want someone to check out your website’s user experience? Let’s chat > you can give us a bell here.


By Alison Balch, Chief Marketeer.

After 12 years in corporate marketing, Alison started AmpersandMC to challenge the world of big agencies and elevate the conversation between a business and a consumer, allowing them to connect on a deeper level. Focusing on strategy development using behavioural psychology principles, she aims to educate and inspire small business owners to take a creative, strategic approach to their marketing.

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