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.