Is your site a lead magnet using pop-up boxes or forms to collect visitors’ email addresses or other info? You need to act fast to retain your mobile traffic from Google. Here’s why:
According to Google, pop-ups deteriorate the user experience by hiding the content the user is trying to access. The problem is particularly crippling for mobile users due to the small-screen limitations. That’s why starting January 2017 Google will start penalizing websites using lead generation boxes and other forms of pop-ups by slapping them with lower mobile search rankings.
With about 60% of all search traffic now originating from mobile devices, all “lead-magnet” websites have reason for concern. The simplest thing to do would be to disable pop-ups for your mobile website. This may be a bit of a problem, because none of the existing lead generation plug-ins has that functionality. You might need to write some CSS code or disable pop-ups altogether. In either case, you are likely to experience a decline in the number of leads your website generates.
The good news is that the penalty only affects the pop-ups that cover the whole screen or a major portion of it, where the underlying content is not visible. “Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible” will not be affected by the new signal. Moreover, interstitials that are legally required (age verification, cookie usage, etc.) are also exempted. It means businesses that want to retain their mobile rankings AND leads will need to redesign their pop-up boxes and test them for the small-screen experience.
In all probability, the new signal may not have a disastrous effect on your ranking, but you’ll never know until the penalty hits. The best bet is to start optimizing now.