Shopify SEO

What the Google pop up penalty could mean for your store

If you are running a Shopify store, it is always important that you try to keep up to date with recent SEO news, as this could have a huge impact on the way that you are able to run your store and how you are able to attract new customers to your website via search engine results. With this being the case, you may have recently seen news relating to the fact that websites that use intrusive popups on their mobile stores could suffer when it comes to ratings and where they appear on the list of search results – with rankings being severely lowered, or their pages even being completely removed from the results of online searches if they are found to be uncompliant with the new rules that have been put in place. This is going to come into play from January 2017, meaning that if you are currently using popups as a part of your store and the way that you try to get people to sign up, you will need to think about what it means for you, and what you could do instead of using this method. This blog post will take you through everything that you need to know about the new penalty system, and it should mean that you no longer need to worry about losing business thanks to the penalty once it is put into place officially at the beginning of next year.

What is a popup?

Anything that appears on a user’s screen while they are browsing your website counts as a popup. It can interfere with a user’s experience of your site as it comes directly between them and what they are trying to view. This is something that many people find to be irritating, and it can often discourage them from wanting to visit the website in the future, and for this reason Google have made the decision to clamp down on the way that companies use these as a part of their advertising strategy.

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To put it simply, there are three different popup types that may be affected by the new rules and regulations in relation to the new penalty once it is brought into play next year. These are:

Popups which don’t actually fill the whole of the screen, but are enough to cover up some of the text that a user is trying to read, in a way that makes it difficult for them to make sense of the lettering underneath the popup. Users are likely to need to select an option, or press an “x” to make their content readable again – but ultimately the aim of these popups is to ensure that users are forced to pay attention to them before they are able to move on and continue with their content.
Popups that fill the whole of the screen, causing the content to move further down the page underneath where the popup ends. This means that users who wish to continue reading the page they have chosen need to scroll right past the popup that has appeared, and keep going until they have passed the full thing, at which point they are brought back to the content that they were originally trying to view.
Popups that take up the whole screen and need to be closed before the content becomes visible again. There is a subtype within this category that requires users to wait for a certain amount of time before they are able to proceed with the content. This is usually in the form of an ad for those who have decided that they would like to try and force some revenue for their website – though with the new penalty, there is a chance that there would be more to lose than to gain from doing this.

Popups that are currently allowed under the new guidelines

Under the new rules, despite the fact that there are so many types of popups that will be penalised in the search results, there are also a few that you will still be able to use.

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Popups that give you the opportunity to log into the website.
Popups that give some form of legal information, for example terms and conditions, or to accept the use of cookies.
Banners that are small, and don’t have an impact on the way that a user is able to view the content of the website.

To put it simply, if a user will be obstructed while trying to view your website content, then chances are your popup is not going to be viewed as acceptable, and Google are likely to penalise you for it. However, even with this being the case, there are ways around it, which should mean that you can still make the most of your store without having to constantly worry about whether you are going to be penalised or not. The following tips will help you to consider ways in which you can keep your rankings strong despite this change in rules.

Don’t get complacent about the rule being mobile only

At the moment, the penalty is only for mobile devices – and it is clear to see why this might be the case, as a popup on a mobile device can certainly be a lot more obtrusive than it might be on a desktop or any other kind of device. Also, despite the fact that the penalty only counts on mobile at the moment, there is a trend where overall rankings are dropping alongside mobile rankings – which means that you should still be incredibly careful when thinking about whether you wish to use popups on your store or not.

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If you are in any doubt, then the best way is to try and remove popups from your store entirely. You have a generous amount of time to think about this and to put it into place, as the rules don’t actually come into effect until January 2017. This means that you have more than enough time to change your strategy in a way that means that you shouldn’t be punished for it. The good news is that there are ways to increase your signup list without having to use popups at all, and these methods are described below.

Use a signup form in your content. This is by far the best thing that you can do, but the design of your form is what is going to make all the difference when it comes to actually being able to get people to sign up. It can often help if there is some kind of incentive to encourage people to make the move and input their details, and there is a chance that because it is not interfering with their enjoyment of your store they will be more willing to sign up – as popups can often have completely the wrong effect, and actually annoy and dissuade people from using the website at all.
Try using a footer. If your customers like what they see when they visit your store, then there is a high chance that they are going to want to sign up to it. With this being the case, there may be no need for a popup – as they will already know that they would like to sign up to make their purchase. You could find that putting a sign up box in a footer, along with a call to action, could be an effective way of doing this. It is non-obtrusive and won’t make your customers feel as though they are being forced into doing anything that they don’t want to do, and this makes them more likely to act in the way that you would like them to.
Make the most of banners. If you want to catch people’s attention, then you should make the most of banners because, as of yet, they are still an acceptable means of attracting attention. It may be the case that the guidelines change, but currently there is no kind of penalty for using these, so it is a great tool. You have the chance to design your banner to turn into something really eye-catching, and this means that you may just get exactly the kind of attention that you need.

In general, you should find that although it is tricky to put a plan in place without using popups – as you may be used to doing so – it is certainly something that is more than possible. Your search rankings are incredibly important, as they can make a huge difference when it comes to whether people manage to find your store for the very first time, and with this being the case you need to do everything that you can to make sure that your rankings aren’t affected in any way. With this being the case, the above tips are certainly worth considering, as you should find that it enables you to have a positive impact on your store and future customers in the long term.

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