Yes, pop up ads are going to hurt your rankings and your blog. But, why?
Because nobody likes them. Do you like those pop-up ads asking you install an app when you are reading something on a website? No, you don't.
Google wants you to have the best possible experience when you use their search results. And pop up ads and interstitial ads are probably the most annoying ads, especially on the mobile. Readers don't like these ads. Google made a call in August last year, that websites with such ads are not good search results and they will rank them lower. There are "hundreds of factors" that affect its search results, pop ups being one of them. But, say if two websites have a somewhat similar quality of content, then the one with pop up or interstitial ads is definitely going to rank lower.
Google aims to help users easily access content on mobile. In August last year, Google announced some changes to their ranking factors on their Official Google Webmaster Central Blog. In the official blog they clearly state:
" Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly."
Here are some examples of techniques that make content less accessible to a user:
1. 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.
2. Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
3. Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.
The above examples have been taken directly from the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog. However, the blog also states that not all pop ups will be considered bad. Pop ups which ask for age verification, cookie usage, or are login dialogs will not be penalized. It also states that banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible will not be affected by the new signals.
So, now you must be thinking that all pop-up ads are not bad. Only some of them. You are wrong!! Most of the pop-up ads are bad, if not all. I will share my experience now.
A few months ago I got this email from Google Search Console Team:
Google’s Safe Browsing systems have detected that some pages on your site might be hacked or might include third party resources such as ads that are designed to trick users into installing malicious software or giving up sensitive information. To protect your site’s visitors, your site has been demoted in Google’s search results and browsers such as Google Chrome now display a warning when users visit your site.
Why did I get this message?
Because I was using ad network with Pop Ads. And the Pop Ads are mostly about installing software be it apps or browser extensions, and they are a nuisance to the users. All my pages dropped in rankings. I was getting around 200 organic visitors per day at that time from search results, it dropped to 5 visitors per day.
How did I fix it?
I removed all the pop-up ads from my website. I replaced them with native and banner ads. After that, I submitted my website for review to the Google search console team. Within, a few hours I got mail from them. It was something like:
Google has received and processed your security review request. Google systems indicate that http://www.chewtab[.]com/ no longer contains links to harmful sites or downloads. The warnings visible to users are being removed from your site. This may take a few hours to happen.
So, in short, the solution was removing the pop ads from my website. But, your search rankings won't improve instantly. It will take some time, and probably months to get back to the position that you might have attained earlier. This in turn can lead to significant loss to your business.
Pop ads not only give the user a hard time going through the content of your website, a large portion of those ads redirect users to app installs, or software installs. Neither, the user likes it, nor does Google. Because, Google search itself has to focus on users and they want their search engine to produce relevant results, so that people keep using their service.
So, advise you to be extra cautious implementing pop ads or interstitial ads on your website. Not all pop-ups and overlays will be counted in Google’s new rankings. Smaller banners at the top of a screen that use only a smart portion of the screen are still okay. They are reasonable as long as the user can view a significant amount of content on the screen as compared to the ads.