Google Launches Mobile Popup Penalty

In an effort to discourage webmasters from using large popup advertisements on their sites, Google has launched a new mobile popup penalty.

mobile pop up penalty

It’s not uncommon for webmasters to include large popup advertisements on their sites, often placing them over the content for greater exposure. If the advertisement is placed over the content, conventional wisdom should tell you that visitors must see it. Some of these ads even require the user to manually close them before accessing the content.

Well, it appears that Google is taking aim at this digital marketing tactic, as the Mountain View company has introduced a new mobile popup penalty.


So, what is the mobile popup penalty and how does it work?
There are three specific types of ads that will trigger Google’s new penalty: popups that cover the main content; displaying a standalone ad that users must close or otherwise dismiss before accessing the main content; and pages with above-the-fold ads that mimic standalone ads.


There’s still no word yet on exactly how the new mobile popup penalty will affect websites.
Rather, Google says that offending websites and webpages may not rank as high. It’s safe to assume the new penalty is just one of hundreds of “signals” used by Google to determine where and how to rank webpages. If you have a webpage with a popup advertisement that falls under the aforementioned criteria, you may struggle to achieve a top search ranking for it. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that you won’t be able to rank it – just that it’s more difficult to rank.


Google also revealed interstitials that are perfectly acceptable and not affected by the new penalty, which includes a popup for cookie usage; an interstitial for age verification; and a top-page banner ad with a “reasonable” amount of screen space displayed below.


The new mobile popup penalty is just one of the many ways that Google is pushing webmasters to create mobile-friendly pages. As explained on the Webmaster Central blog, up to 85% of all pages in mobile search results are now mobile friendly.


Two years ago, we added a mobile-friendly label to help users find pages where the text and content was readable without zooming and the tap targets were appropriately spaced. Since then, we’ve seen the ecosystem evolve and we recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and show the mobile-friendly label,” explained Google when announcing the new mobile popup penalty on the Webmaster Central blog.