Pop-up windows (aka interstitials) are often used to increase conversions, such as newsletter sign-ups and filling out contact forms. However, they can hurt SEO performance if implemented incorrectly. We come across this issue quite often when we perform ecommerce SEO audits. In this blog post, we’ll show you which pop-ups to use in order to avoid a negative effect on organic rankings.

To pop-up or not pop-up?

This question can best be answered by taking a look at the two types of interstitials:

1. Intrusive Interstitials

There are interstitials that pop up after the user clicks on a listing in Google search results, i.e. when the user enters the site. These intrusive interstitials provide a bad user experience and are penalized by Google.

2. Exit-Intent Popups:

These interstitials pop up when a user is about to leave the site and do not hurt organic rankings. Here’s how these exit-intent pop-ups work:

On desktop computers, exit intent technologies are usually based on tracking the movement of the user’s mouse cursor on the page. The exit intent pop-up is then triggered immediately after the cursor leaves the active area of the browser. (The browser’s active area is the actual content window, while the static area is represented by any parts of the browser that are not part of the loaded web page.)

On mobile devices, exit intent is touch-based. There are two actions that can be used to trigger a message: double-clicking the mobile browser to switch between browser tabs, and pressing the browser back button.

In summary: Do not use intrusive interstitials. Instead, exit-intent pop-ups should be used, as there is no negative SEO effect. However, from a UX point of view, it’s probably best not to use any form of pop-up, as they can interrupt the customer journey or frustrate the user.