They’re widely accepted as one of the scourges of the internet but more and more sites are choosing to use them, much to the frustration of users. Of course, we’re talking about pop-up ads. After years of having to rely solely on ad-blocker we might finally begin to see these intrusive ads start to die out, as Google have decided enough is enough and will be penalising sites that utilise pop-ups.
Google has made the decision that sites that rely heavily on pop-ups may be ranked lower as they are unpopular with the general browsing public and the information isn’t ‘easily accessible’ when obscured by ads. The change is due to take place in January 2017, giving website owners plenty of time to make changes if they think their site might be in trouble when the changes are brought in.
Google has been changing up its algorithm over the past few years and has already brought in other changes that are supposed to ensure users get the most accurate, useful search results. It started in 2014 when sites that use encryption were ranked more highly and, of course, last year we saw the introduction of mobile-friendly sites getting a better ranking.
It’s worth noting that not all pop-ups are going to be targeted by these upcoming restrictions: pop-ups to confirm a legal requirement (an age confirmation, for example) will be fine and sites that use small ad banners at the top of the screen will also be given a free pass. It’s the large overlays that are the main culprits – you know the ones, when you’re trying to read an article and suddenly the text is obscured by a huge pop-up that can only be minimised after you locate the teeny, tiny little X and click it repeatedly until the ad finally disappears and leaves you in peace.
It’s great to see Google tackling an issue that’s frustrated users for years and it seems as though they’re taking a fair course of action. Of course, many sites only exist because of ads but, providing your ads aren’t intrusive and don’t detract from your content, you shouldn’t notice any changes to your search engine ranking come January…unless you jump up a few places above a site filled with pesky pop-ups!