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  • Do popups have a negative effect on Google rankings?

    It’s not a secret that many people find popup ads annoying and they certainly aren’t anyway near as popular as they used to be two or three years ago, mainly because of this and the ability to be able to block them easily. But do popup window ads have a negative impact towards search engine rankings in Google?

    The facts suggest that Google are clearly against popups and are likely to favour a clean website with no popups as opposed to a similar website which automatically forces popup ads. The reasons being:

    • The Google Toolbar has it’s own popup blocker built-in.
    • Google AdWords landing pages which contain popup pages are disapproved.
    • Google loves quality content. If a webpage contains great content surrounded by lots of ads then some of the focus is going to be taken away from the actual copy. If a webpage forces a popup window ad to open then Google will be aware of this and are likely to consider the impact this has to users visiting the page.
    • The relevancy of the ad is also likely to have a strong influence over whether this is a negative factor.
    • Landing page load speed is important as both an SEO factor and now in Google AdWords too, so having large ads or popups which may slow down the loading time of a page could certainly be a factor to consider.

    But despite this we can only assume that they take a similar stance towards organic rankings, how large a factor this is towards having a negative SEO effect is unclear. The information available about it’s influence towards rankings is limited mostly to forum post opinions who seem to agree it’s a safe bet to avoid popup windows wherever possible, but there are many questions which are still unanswered. For example, are all types of popups treated equally? I would expect a hyperlink popup to be fine as it’s triggered by a user action rather than being forced, but are exit traffic popups any different from an SEO perspective to an on-page load opening popup? Are popups considered more acceptable in certain niches and less of an SEO problem? Do Yahoo! or Windows Live view popups any differently? Is it possible to get around this by using search engine friendly code?

    I’d be interested in hearing of any evidence of where rankings have changed as a result of removing or adding popups.


    2 Responses to “Do popups have a negative effect on Google rankings?”

    1. Steve Moss says:

      Like Kevin, I, and no doubt countless other SEO Specialists, would agree that pop-ups DO have a negative effect on Google rankings. The fact that the Google Toolbar has a pop-up blocker provides a major piece of evidence to support this. Michael Gray of WebProNews notes “seo web design and pop-ups are inextricably linked”, also citing that “one of the main reasons SEO has become such an important part of any web designer’s job is because pop-ups are still so widely used.” Furthermore, Gray notes, “Until designers learn how to use a CMS properly and separate content from context, an SEO is always going to have (to) fix the nightmare they have created.” SEO goes hand-in-hand with usability, although the same cannot unfortunately be said for pop-ups which can be frustrating for users and hinder their online search activities. Concluding, it can be seen that not only do pop-ups hinder Google rankings but so does poor web design. Thank goodness for SEO!

    2. Mark says:

      All I know is I was #4 and # 7 for 2 very competetive keywords on google, and after I put a pop-up in I watched my conversion soar for 1 week then my #4 and #7 went to #142 and #200. So I tend to lean toward NO POP-UPS of your organic search with google is important.

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