Well, it has finally happened. And honestly, it took much longer than I expected. Google is going to begin penalizing websites that have interstitials on them. What is an interstitial? It is a fancy way of saying pop up. The politically correct version. LOL. So, in January of 2017 Google is going to start to penalize sites that use this technique to increase conversions.
Understanding Interstitials: The Evolution of Pop-Ups
So what is an interstitial? In the old days, websites used to have a pop-up. You would go to the website, and a second window would automatically open up that would have an offer or some sort of newsletter sign-up or basically anything the site owner was trying to get you to do on it. These pop-ups became very annoying and people started to use popup blockers. Pop-up blockers were very effective at stopping these pop-ups and pop-ups became a thing of the past.
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The Rise of Sleeker Pop-Ups: Exit Intent and Transition Effects
However, recently web developers started to use a different approach to popups. Instead of a pop-up that auto loaded when you hit the URL, they begin using Scripts that would load up a pop up after you are on the site for a particular period of time. Say 3 seconds in. Or once you’ve viewed 2 paragraphs of text, or even when they see you are trying to leave the site and your mouse hovers outside of the browser screen area. This is called an exit intent.
So these new pop ups, would be much more sleek and sexy. They would slowly transition in and dim your screen and then you have no choice but to read the call to action that shows. This would be a newsletter sign-up, a buy today and get a certain percentage off offer, or something similar. And these interstitials work very well. Conversions increased tenfold or hundredfold. And now you can’t go to a website without a pop up or the fancy way of calling them, interstitials.
Google’s Displeasure and Marketers’ Dilemma
So this new form of a pop up, it’s better-looking cousin, is now becoming so prevalent that it becomes frustrating. Just as frustrating as the original pop ups of the 90s and early 2000s. So Google decided that these are a pain in the neck, and they don’t like them.
So, we as marketers and internet driven have to decide how we are going to deal with this new Google problem. Do you remove that awesomely converting interstitial or pop up? Or do you “let it ride” and see if your site begins to suffer? Me personally, I always try to err on the side of caution. So for me, I am removing interstitials from my sites. As much as it sucks to be a slave to Google, Google still owns the search market and that is a search engine you want with you not against you.
Adapting Without Interstitials: A Redesign Approach
So, what do you do once you remove your interstitial? I recommend you begin to look at your website’s design, and layout. You are going to have to better utilize the real estate on your site to get that same message across without being obtrusive. And also better utilize your side bars, or if you are in WordPress better utilize your widgets. I recommend Thrive Content Builder for these purposes. Definitely get those contact forms on the side of every page.
Make sure the offer stands out in the pages content as well as on the widgets section. Bottom line, is you need to let those people know that there is something special that you want them to realize. And you can’t do it in an obtrusive way. So in your content, utilize some texts with a better call to action. Use different colors for your calls to action. Different sizes of text. You are going to have to advertise your specials within your content as opposed to on top of it.
Impact and Reflection: A Marketer’s Perspective
Do I like this change, yes. Will it make internet marketing harder, yes. Will it make for a better web experience, in my opinion, yes. This brings an end to another “tactic” that frustrates me but works. Check out Google’s official statement here: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/08/helping-users-easily-access-content-on.html
Google is the internet’s Darwin, and only the strong will survive. So you will have to either get better with internet marketing or become extinct…
P.S. No red and yellow flashing GIFs!!!!