Google recently announced that starting in 2017, they will be making changes to their rankings. Specifically, Google will be penalizing mobile sites that use intrusive interstitials, also known as mobile popups. You can read Google's full announcement here.
Who this affects:
Any website currently using a popup on the mobile site. Namely publishers using popup to display ads, and even Privy users targeting the same popup campaign to both desktop and mobile visitors.
What is considered an intrusive mobile popup?
According to Google's official announcement, the following examples would be flagged:
A mobile popup that covers the main content, either immediately or after a period of viewing the page
Displaying a standalone mobile popup that the user has to dismiss before accessing the page
A welcome mat mobile popup where the above the fold portion of the page pushes the original content underneath the fold.
Examples of intrusive mobile popups:
What is considered an acceptable mobile display?
According to Google's Official announcement, the following are examples of acceptable mobile interstitials:
Banners that only use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or age verification.
Login dialogs where content is not publicly indexable. For example, publisher content that is behind a paywall
Examples of acceptable mobile displays:
In the above examples, you'll note how the interstitial displays take up less than 30% of the phone screen, and can easily be closed.
Best practices we recommend for Privy users:
If you haven't already, you should be running separate campaigns for mobile visitors. You can accomplish this easily using the Privy device targeting feature. This way, you can leave your desktop campaign in it's current format, and create a separate campaign that is truly optimized for mobile.
Your mobile targeted campaign should use the email bar display type. You could also consider using a flyout display type, and keeping the height of the flyout to a minimum.
Your mobile targeted campaign should not use a timer or scroll trigger. If you set any triggers at all, it should just be a floating or full width tab. In line with Google's announcement, you want to be sure that if a visitor lands on your site on a mobile device, they are actively clicking the tab to open the form.
Example of the Privy mobile bar:
In the above screenshots, notice how little screen space the closed email bar takes up. Also notice that the visitor needs to click the bar to open the form, and even in open position, the visitor can easily close the bar.
One other option for Privy users, is to keep the popup format, but remove all automatic triggers, and only use the tab as the prompt for the mobile visitor to open the popup. Here's what that would look like:
A note to Privy users on the Always Free plan:
You can remain on the free tier without concern. You will just need to tweak your existing popup campaign to only use exit intent as the trigger, and also have a tab prompt. Since exit intent only works on desktop, it will not automatically trigger a popup on mobile. The different tab styles will act as the only available prompt on mobile devices, as noted in the screenshots above. The only reason you would need to upgrade is if you want the ability to have completely separate campaigns on desktop vs mobile. That is where the device targeting feature comes into play. But to reiterate, you can use our above recommendations to remain on the free plan, and avoid any issues.
Most importantly, remember that list growth isn't just about slapping a generic popup on your website. It's about crafting relevant, personal opt-in opportunities that enhance your customers' journey. So as you rethink your approach to mobile opt-ins, keep your customers user experience as unintrusive as possible, and as relevant as possible. If you're successful achieving that, you won't have to worry about Google penalizing your ranking based on annoying mobile popups.