Content Marketing
Your Pop-Up is Hurting Your Site (Here’s How To Make It Help)

Your Pop-Up is Hurting Your Site (Here’s How To Make It Help)

September 10, 2018
4 min read

Google has stated that it will lower the SERP rankings of websites featuring pop-ups that decrease the quality of mobile experiences. This means that if you don’t get your pop-ups in order, all that SEO work your web developer did will go right out the window.

To avoid the wrath of Google, you can optimize your mobile designs so that your pop-up takes up a reasonable amount of space that doesn’t prevent the user from enjoying the content. But the problem of pop-ups extends to all platforms in a more fundamental way. An intrusive or offensive pop-up that demands information or nags users for the entirety of their visit can lose you website visitors and hurt your brand. Time spent building up your credibility on social will be for nothing if, once they’ve followed the link, they think your website, and by extension your company, is obnoxious and annoying.

And even if you do land more prospects with a pop-up that appears upon visitors’ arrival and doesn’t go away until they convert, those prospects may not be the most qualified, since they haven’t even had a chance to fully engage with your site and figure out if your products fit their needs, which means you’ll be wasting resources pursuing prospects with little chance of a sale. On the other hand, you may be blowing your shot at a quality prospect if you present them with a dull pop-up that gives them no real incentive to take action, since it only takes consumers a moment to register their impression, hover their cursor over the little “x” and click.

Why Pop-Ups Are Worth It

At this point you might be asking, why then do businesses even use pop-ups? The answer is that good pop-ups actually do have a consistently high conversion rate, with the top-performing ten percent of pop-ups delivering over a nine percent conversion rate and a higher click-through rate than other kinds of ads.1 That’s because they offer an ideal platform for your CTA, concentrating all attention on a single directive without taking a user away from the site.

This makes them great for boosting other channels and getting contact information, whether you’re promoting gated content, increasing blog subscriptions, or finding new leads. They’re also useful tools for building your email lists, another high performing—in fact, the highest performing—channel in terms of conversions.

With all the potential that simple little box provides, it’s hard for marketers to resist the temptation to fill their sites with intrusive pop-ups. But it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. If you understand what you’re doing with pop-ups, you can convert qualified prospects without detracting from, and perhaps even improving, visitors’ experiences.

How to Create a Pop-Up That Will Accelerate Growth

First and foremost, you’ll want to design your pop-up with a focus on instilling a desire to engage. This often involves a substantial offer in return for whatever you’re asking for, be it a survey response or contact information. Offers can include whitepapers, newsletters or special deals, offered through download or through the email subscription that they’ll be signing up for, that are relevant to your prospects and customers and, ideally, the information they’re seeking out by visiting the page. To determine an offer that would work for your site, put yourself in the place of the consumer and ask how you can solve their problem. Make sure that your offer has objective value the consumer can’t get anywhere else and that they will feel a pressure to obtain it, which can be achieved by giving the offer a time limit or creating content that offers new findings or is particularly relevant to the moment.

Once you’ve got the offer down, you need to make it easy for consumers to get it. Your CTA should take advantage of a pop-up’s concentrated but brief hold on consumers’ attention by offering a single, clear action. Consumers’ eyes should naturally move from an eye-catching headline to the CTA, so consider using directional cues like bullets and arrows and bold colors that make it stand out, keeping text as brief as possible.

Easily as significant as the content itself is designing how the ad appears on the page. There are many design options that avoid the issue of a pop-up that takes up the entire page as soon as the visitor arrives on the site. Consider having your pop-up delay at least 30 seconds before it appears or until the user has scrolled down a certain amount of the page. This gives the visitor a chance to get invested in the content and increases the chance of only qualified leads interacting with your pop-up.

Once they’ve seen your pop-up, it’s important to not harangue the visitor with the same message again and again. You have the ability to stop a visitor from seeing another pop-up after they’ve closed one for at least as long as their session, and you should consider turning it off for days afterward to give them time to change their mind. And if they’ve already converted, you definitely won’t want to continue bothering them with an offer they’ve already accepted, so choose to exclude recent conversions as well.

Help the Consumer, Your Brand and Your Bottom Line

Even if a pop-up is well-intentioned, it will hurt your business if its content and design are mediocre. Pop-ups need to be exceptionally intuitive and substantial to pull in a high conversion rate without damaging your brand. But if you do take a serious approach to creating pop-ups with the user in mind, and make ones that add, rather than detract, from the user experience, that little box could be your best shot at leveraging your whole online presence, boosting your entire sales funnel with high conversion rates in everything from sales to email subscriptions, leading to happier, more engaged customers and a growing business.


  1. Should Marketers Use Pop-Up Forms? A Comprehensive Analysis, HubSpot

Get a Free Consultation
for Content Marketing

Mark Schmukler

Mark Schmukler, CEO and Co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group, brings more than 30 years of global marketing and consulting experience to the agency, leveraging his B2B background to lead brand strategy and business development. Headquartered in Doylestown, PA with offices in Philadelphia, Princeton, Boston and Washington, DC, Sagefrog is a top-ranked B2B marketing agency with specialties in healthcare, technology, industrial, and business services. Founded in 2002, Sagefrog’s mission is to accelerate client success through branding and strategy, websites and digital, content and inbound, and traditional marketing services. Visit or call 215.230.9024.

Related Posts

Content Marketing Secrets to Help You Succeed in B2B Content Marketing

Secrets to Help You Succeed in B2B Content Marketing

Jul 25, 2023
15 min read
Artificial Intelligence 5 Questions to Ask AI to Help Develop Marketing Personas

5 Questions to Ask AI to Help Develop Marketing Personas

Aug 1, 2023
4 min read
Content Marketing Can Freelancers Help You Scale Up Content Marketing?

Can Freelancers Help You Scale Up Content Marketing?

Feb 19, 2024
6 min read