Google to punish popups on mobile

Google announced that it will be punishing sites that have intrusive popups or interstitials on mobile starting from January 10, 2017. This is in an effort to improve the mobile search experience.

“Pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”

We think this is a refreshing change as people had started to abuse popups and interstitials with spammy content and it lead to a bad browsing experience on mobile devices.

Which popups are bad?

Here are some examples of popups that Google will punish. They don’t like spammy popups or full-screen interstitials that make content less accessible.

Bad Popups

Which popups are good?

Here are some valid cases of using popups or interstitials. For example, you can still ask people to accept cookie usage or verify their age. You can also show a bar or banner that doesn’t take a lot of space.

Good popups

I use a popup! What should I do?

First, don’t panic! This change is specific to mobile devices and it does not start until January 10, 2017. Google is doing this to target spammers, not people who are improving their conversions in a nice non-intrusive way 🙂

If you are using a MailMunch popup, we have plenty of great options for you. If you are not using MailMunch, now is the time to consider switching!

Option A) Turn off the Popup for mobile devices and use a Top Bar

MailMunch provides you with a super flexible solution that already meets Google’s requirements. You can choose to show a small bar or banner that sticks on top or bottom of your site and politely asks for the email.

Mobile Top Bar

As you can see, it does not block the content, does not take much space and is not intrusive. This is something Google fully allows. We recommend you to keep the text light so it doesn’t take more space.

Now, all you have to do is turn off the popup on mobile and tablet devices, and then turn off the top bar on desktop devices. This can be done under “Display Rules” in “Behavior” step of the form editor.

Display Rules

Option B) Make your Popups smarter

Keep in mind, Google is targeting spammers. If you are using a popup in a smart way to improve your conversions, you’ll be fine! As a MailMunch user, you would know how flexible our solution is. It lets you hyper target users and improve conversions. You can trigger popups based on:

  • Exit monitoring (when user is about to exit your page)
  • Time on page or site
  • Number of pageviews
  • Past behavior
  • Click to trigger
  • and more

This is the best time to use these features if you aren’t already. Exit-intent is much more useful now. Targeting users who are exiting your site is not intrusive. Also, you can use click triggers to trigger your popups on click of a button or link. You can also set to show the popups only to returning visitors and not everyone else.

Option C) Use Embed forms for mobile devices

We still highly recommend using popups on desktop devices as they convert much better. For mobile devices, you have another option of using embed forms. We have a great variety of beautiful embed forms that can be placed any where on your site. You can put them above, below or in between your content.

Conclusion (TL;DR)

It’s business as usual. Google is doing a refreshing thing to make mobile experience better and targeting spammers. If you use MailMunch, you can either use our bars or make your popups smarter. If you are using another service or a custom built solution, now is the time to consider switching to MailMunch.

As long as you are not spamming and legitimately converting users, you should be fine 🙂

Content marketing guru at MailMunch. I’m passionate about writing content that resonates with people. Live simply, give generously, stay happy.

  • Mallory.

    What do you mean to turn off the top bar on Desktop in the image above. Should that be turn on Desktop and turn off mobile and tablet? Kindly advise. Thanks.

    • John Davier

      @mallorydurrickmerlino:disqus The idea I suggested there is to have the popup on desktop devices only and top bar on mobile/tablet devices. So for that, the popup will be turned off for mobile/tablet devices and top bar will be turned off for desktop.

      Unless of course you want to show the top bar on desktop as well 🙂

      • Mallory.

        Thanks John. I’m a little confused on what the top bar means. Can you elaborate? Where is that in settings? The Top Bar that is.

        • John Davier

          @mallorydurrickmerlino:disqus Sure! We have different types of opt-in forms like Popups, Embed Forms, Slide Boxes and Top Bars. If you go to create a new form, you will be given an option to choose which type you want and there you can select “Top Bar”.

          • Mallory.

            Okay, that makes sense. I just downloaded all the data from the old form so I don’t lose my 419 signups. But to remain compliant and not get punished, I should create a new optin form so it works accordingly come January 2017. Thanks, John.

          • Sandi Gaertner

            Thank you for explaining this. That was what I was trying to find 🙂

  • Jody

    John – I only see 3 options under display rules: show on desktops, show show in mobile and show on tablets. There is an option which asks which pages you want to show on. Where is the option to turn off on desktops?

    • John Davier

      @Jody those 3 options are basically toggles. You can turn them on and off by clicking the toggle.

  • Ron

    Or……..this could just be the first volley by Google and popups will ultimately be punished everywhere (like the one that popped up on your site 5 seconds after I came here – I’m on a laptop).

    THAT is annoying as hell no matter what device I’m viewing it on.

    • John Davier

      @disqus_3BsBLQjsSm:disqus It depends on how well targeted the popup is. It’s kind of like Ads, they’re annoying if over-done but at the same time they are very useful for the publisher in order to make a living.

      I believe the key is in maintaining a balance.

  • Liz Holt Audette

    Is a slide box that shows up when the person gets 80% down the page considered intrusive? That’s what I use with mail munch.

    • John Davier

      @lizholtaudette:disqus that should be fine. That’s another great example of how you can be smart about user behavior targeting. Good job!

      • Liz Holt Audette


  • Olaf Lederer

    Thanks for the information. I posted a similar question yesterday to your support.
    I’m sure you can use Mailmunch in a way where it’s possible to meet the Google requirements next year. There is one bad side: You need to to create multiple popup campaigns: one for mobile and one for desktop. It would be much better if there is a large popup on desktop is always small one on mobile. Just provide options for both dimensions. That way the analytics are less crowded.
    I think there is a great chance for Mailmunch, to optimize the mobile options and stay in front of the competition.

  • rose love

    Do you think Google would punish a site using a pop up which shows 30 seconds after a person visits a page? That is what I am using.

  • Sowmay Jain

    I installed mailchimp right away. Great plugin. This is something I was looking for.

  • ValMcBeath

    When I click on the Behaviour tab, I don’t get an option for Position or Closing the Bar. Is this only available on the premium version? My choices are When to Show; After User Subscribes; Display Rules; Content Gate (Premium Feature) and Tracking Pixels (Premium Feature).

    How do I get to choose the top bar for mobile?

    • John Davier

      @disqus_krMoFZb1EL:disqus the choices there are different for different form types. “Closing the Bar” is available if you create a “Top Bar” form. You need to create a new form and choose “Top Bar” when it asks you.

  • Aaron

    Do you think the slide ups will be considered intrusive?

  • computergeekblog

    I use subscription plugin only nothing else, between thanks for sharing informative write up.

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