Google launched an update recently that has the potential to decrease website traffic and limit the number of people who see your sign up forms and subscribe to your email lists.
Now, websites with intrusive mobile interstitials (aka sign up forms) displaying on mobile devices may see lower rankings in Google search results.
Since organic traffic accounts for up to 64% of website visits and 33% of people click on the first listing in Google search results, this update could significantly affect website traffic.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the update. In addition, get four strategies you can use to avoid the penalty and keep going on collecting new subscribers from mobile devices.
Everything you need to know about Google’s mobile interstitial penalty
On Jan10, 2017, Google made the announcement on their Webmaster blog: “Starting today, pages, where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition, from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”
According to Google, they’ll penalize forms that interrupt or impede mobile users from consuming the content on your site. The intention of the update is to make websites more accessible to mobile users, who account for 51.3% of internet users worldwide.
There are some types of forms that would be affected by this:
- Pop up forms that cover the main content of a page
- Slide in forms that cover the main content of a page
- Full page forms that completely cover the content on a page
- Page takeover forms that need to be dismissed before a user can see content
To avoid Google’s penalty, you should not display any of these forms for your mobile site visitors.
Although this rule has some well-intentioned email marketers up in arms, the sad reality is that not everyone uses these types of forms to help and educate visitors. Too often, these intrusive forms are difficult or impossible to exit out of, or don’t deliver content visitors would actually want.
To make sure you don’t run the risk of getting penalized, all you have to do is turn off those forms for mobile device users. Many signs up form builders like SumoMe and OptinMonster allows you to target forms based on the device from which people are accessing your site. And that makes it simple to ensure you’re abiding by Google’s new policy.
You maybe worry about how this will hurt your list growth, this update doesn’t end your ability to display sign up forms to mobile site visitors and collect subscribers. There are still a lot of non-intrusive ways to show your forms without being penalized by Google.
Four methods to avoid Google’s penalty
Use top or bottom bar forms
Top or bottom bar sign up forms avoid the Google penalty because they don’t cover the content on the website. They’re located at the top or bottom of a web page and follow users down the page as they scroll.
The advantage of this form over a pop up is that it can’t be dismissed or closed by the user, it also creates a much better user experience.
The form catches your eye with its vibrant color and sticks at the top of the page as you scroll down. It’s also responsive, meaning that it resizes to fit the screens of mobile users.
Add embedded forms to your site
Embedded forms often get the bad reputation of not earning high conversion rates. These forms don’t block a visitor from reading content, they may not capture people’s attention and encourage them to opt into their email list.
There’re ways to make your embedded forms stand out and capture email addresses. By using these forms, you won’t have to worry about getting penalized by Google since these aren’t restricted.
While this form is embedded into the page content, it’s the first thing you see since it’s at the very top of the page and uses a bright blue and green color scheme to capture attention.
Using contrasting colors and good placement can turn embedded forms into a subscriber magnet to gather many subscribers
Create click-to-open forms
With this type of form, website visitors must click a link or button to expand the full sign up form.
This is a more subtle way to add a sign up form to your page, there’re psychological studies that support their effectiveness.
Show an exit-intent form before subscribers leave
These forms often cover content by popping up on the screen or taking over the page, Google doesn’t consider them intrusive.
Google only penalizes sites when forms make the content “Not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results.” Exit-intent forms don’t appear on the transition from search results, but rather when a user tries to exit your site. Since this is the case, Google won’t penalize people who use them on their site.
This is good for you because exit-intent forms often have high conversion rates. In fact, according to OptinMonster, their customers have seen as much as a 600% increase in conversions with exit-intent forms.
Making the internet a better place
While you may worry you’ll see a dip in list growth because of this update, there are still multiple ways to collect subscribers from mobile devices with non-invasive forms, like the ones mentioned above. Besides, you can go ondisplaying pop up forms and collecting subscribers for desktop users.
And if this update will help make the internet a better place and improve the user experience for all, we know it’s one we can support.