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The impact (and lack thereof) of Google’s mobile popup algorithm

Back in August 2016, Google warned that it would be releasing an algorithm to crack down on interstitials on Mobile pages. Now that the update has been live for a month, columnist Glenn Gabe shares his findings on the impact.

It’s not often that Google announces an algorithm update in advance. But when they do, not only can webmasters prepare for that update, we can also track its rollout once Google pulls the trigger. That provides a rare opportunity to gauge the impact of the algorithm update and determine what its effects are.

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing since January 10, 2017.

In August of 2016, Google announced that they would be rolling out an update on January 10, 2017, that could impact URLs employing intrusive mobile popups or interstitials. For example, if a URL presented an interstitial that covered a substantial part of the content, then that URL could be demoted in the mobile search results. The web as a whole cheered, as many users were extremely frustrated by aggressive mobile popups.

So, as January approached, many SEOs, webmasters and business owners wondered what the actual impact would be. Would there be mass casualties, minor bumps in the algorithmic road or something in between? Based on Google’s announcement, you would think that sites employing intrusive popups or interstitials would have gotten smoked by the algorithm. That would make sense, but when you’re dealing in an algorithmic world, the devil is in the details.

Preparing for the mobile popup algorithm

As the rollout neared, I had many questions. Would the update actually work? How extreme would it be? Would there be loopholes? How would it impact branded versus non-branded queries? Would large-scale sites be impacted as much as smaller sites? And so on and so forth.

That’s why I prepared for the update by collecting as many sites using mobile popups or interstitials as possible. My goal was to benchmark those sites and then gauge the impact as the mobile popup algorithm rolled out. I’m now tracking close to 70 domains on my mobile popup list — and those sites are across verticals, including news publishers, entertainment, sports, e-commerce retailers, bloggers, music and more.

Starting on January 10, I began checking my list twice per day to see which sites were still breaking the rules and which ones weren’t. And for the ones breaking the new Google mobile popup law, how much negative impact would they see? Would they see any impact at all?

My travels along the popup algorithm trail

My research took me across many sites, both large and small, across many categories and locations. It was fascinating to see which sites raised the white flag and stopped using popups or interstitials and which ones stood their ground and kept them. It was also eye-opening to analyze the various ways websites employed popups and interstitials in this new world (if they kept them). It was enlightening, to say the least.

And of course, I was able to see many different types of ads and interstitials, including benign newsletter signups, aggressive ads that take over your screen, autoplay video in popups, broken ads in popups, and even malware and malicious downloads from ads in popups. There were times I felt like I needed battle armor while visiting some sites.

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This post first appeared on SEO | SMM | SEM | SMO | PPC, please read the originial post: here

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The impact (and lack thereof) of Google’s mobile popup algorithm


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