Google’s Mobile Algorithm Update Impact on Email Newsletter Popups

A prospect’s email address is by far the most valuable piece of intel a company could hope to gather.

People don’t just give it out to anyone and everyone. They usually reserve it for companies that are important to them.

And for years, email newsletter popups and other website sign-up forms have been the "Golden Goose" for marketers to collect them.

Not just newsletter popup forms, but live chat windows and Facebook “like our page” popups have been vital tools to an inbound marketer.

There are dozens of companies whose entire business model is creating and optimizing these popups.

But with Google’s search algorithm dinging mobile pages for using certain kinds of popups, marketers need to get their mobile sites in order–and their thinking caps on– if they want their email lists to continue growing.

And if you’re not familiar with what Google is up to, you need to get up to speed.

Explaining Google’s search algorithm updates

On January 10, 2017, Google initiated a pretty seismic search algorithm change.

Any mobile websites that use intrusive interstitials on a mobile user may not rank as high in search results.

According to Google, the following mobile interstitials will be penalized:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone popup that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone popup, but the original content has been inline underneath the fold.

On March 26, 2018, Google rolled out another mobile update that improves the way information is gathered.

They rolled out mobile-indexing to a broader range of sites. This means that they will use the mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing purposes.

While this has no ranking advantage, Google still has a mobile-friendly assessment that suggests you should have a mobile-friendly site.

And on July 9, 2018, Google updated their search parameters to include page speed for mobile searches. This new rollout means that page speed will be a “ranking factor” for your site.

For years, we’ve heard about the importance of mobile and how we need to on a mobile device.

And while your website content, albeit high ranking, may be a great lead generator, it could hurt you if you use mobile interstitials like email newsletter popups and other sign-up forms.

Like any popup sign-up form.

Even the most effective popup campaigns offer more instantly gratifying options.

Like the popups we were using on our website that were converting at over 6%.

Discount codes, contest entries, or a quick guide/ebook that solves a prospects’ most common pain point–all of these things helped convert our page visitors into email subscribers.

But now things are much different for mobile.

What does this mean for your mobile website and signup forms?

A popup to access a free ebook–dinged by Google.

A popup to start a free trial or create an account–dinged by Google.

A popup for a birthday coupon–dinged by Google.

A popup to get a discount on your first purchase–dinged by Google.

A popup to sign up for a webinar or training session–dinged by Google.

A popup to receive a free marketing guide–dinged by Google.

All of these examples are ways to obtain a person’s email address, but to Google, these popups are distracting to the mobile user experience.

And that means your site could be punished in their search algorithm. That also means fewer organic visitors and potential leads.

A person’s inbox is the most intimate channel. Which is why it’s one of the most valuable marketing tools you can have.

Acceptance into an inbox will maximize the attention you get from your potential customers. But marketers and businesses will need to pivot strategies with their website email newsletter popups and sign-up forms on mobile.

We need you to be very honest with yourself for a second.

Ask yourself this very important question: Do your mobile email newsletter popups and other sign-up popup forms serve a purpose?

According to Google, some popups are still acceptable on mobile pages.

These are if the popup is required by law, such as age verification or if they don’t detract from the main content on the page, like a small banner at the top.

Now let’s talk about what you can do as an alternative to email newsletter popups:

Adapt to new sign-up form strategies

“Can I still use and other sign-up forms?”

Great question.

We suggest reading the guidance Google provided carefully and plan the best way to achieve this without harming your SEO or user experience.

Here is a solid sign-up form strategy we recommend implementing on your site today:

  • Turn off mobile popups. This should include live chat popups too. A good live chat service should have the ability for a user to still start a chat without having to close a popup.
  • If you must have a newsletter popup, keep it as small as possible. Consider adding the popup to landing pages rather than a homepage. Design for the maximum proportion of the screen, which in some cases, may be the whole screen.
  • A/B test the close or ‘X’ icon in the corner for mobile popups. Make sure people with large fingers can easily dismiss the popup, like in our example below. Make sure the ‘X’ icon is visible under multiple light conditions, and give people an “escape.”

Source: Delivra

  • Try on-page newsletter signup forms rather than popups. Add a signup form to your sidebar or embed it part-way through the page, or even in the footer. Make sure you include some text highlighting the benefits of signing up or for the user to commit their email address to you. Keep a close eye on your subscription rates and see if it makes a difference.
  • Consider a slide-in rather than a popup. When a visitor scrolls past a certain point of a page, a form slides in from one side of the page (typically in a bottom corner.) This can be less intrusive, but still brings it to their attention without it potentially being scrolled over.
  • Try adding a notice to the top of the page, like a ribbon banner. This can help capture the attention of your visitors to sign up for your newsletter or another token without annoying them by hiding the content they’re trying to see. Something attention-grabbing, like “Signup for our newsletter to get your free ebook” can be a great way to encourage people to enter their email in an on-page signup form.

Capturing email addresses is still important when done right

People genuinely interested in your product will not care about the popup but Google might.

People genuinely interested in finding more information about your services will typically not care about a popup but Google might.

People genuinely interested in donating to your organization’s cause will typically not care about a popup but Google might.

Google will forever keep improving the search and user experience and, as marketers, we must change with them.

They are constantly shifting the way marketers and businesses think about mobile experiences.

Anytime Google announces its algorithm, it is wise to take notice.

And while these new search algorithm changes for mobile are the rules of the road (for now), there are certain email newsletter popups and sign-up form tactics for desktop visitors you can still use today.

Wrap up

Highly interested customers are prime for the picking once you get that email address.

  • Just make sure you’re within the good graces of Google and stay there.
  • To recap, the three penalties to be on the lookout for are:
  • Showing a popup that covers the main content.
  • Displaying a standalone popup that the user has to dismiss.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone popup.

Some things you can do to improve your customer’s mobile experience include:

  • Turn off mobile popups in almost every case.
  • Trying on-page signup forms in the sidebar, footer, or other space.
  • A/B test the close or ‘X’ icon for maximum ease of use.
  • Design popups to be as small as possible so they won’t be intrusive.

If you need help generating more engagement and increasing your sales through your newsletter or other campaigns, Delivra can help. Contact us today.

We use cookies to serve personalized content and targeted advertisements to you, which gives you a better browsing experience and lets us analyze site traffic. Review our cookie information to learn more. You can manage your cookie preferences at any time.