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The world of online search is going mobile, and dentists’ marketing has to adapt to the smaller screen sizes and challenging page load times.
In fact, if your dental website isn’t already mobile-friendly, your website may take a rankings hit from Google. In recent years, Google has moved strongly to focusing on a good online experience for searchers. Websites that don’t display properly or that take too long to load on mobile devices are frowned upon, to say the least.
Now, you can add pop-up ads to Google’s list of strong dislikes.
Google has a fancy name for pop-ups – “intrusive interstitials” – but their objection seems to be based in the fact that almost any ad can cover a significant portion of the small-screen page and disrupt the viewer’s experience.
The official announcement makes it clear that legally required pop-ups are fine. In the case of dentists, that might be a HIPAA disclaimer, for instance, or a cookies notification. Here are pop-ups that won’t be tolerated beginning in January according to Google:
- “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 interstitial 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 interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.”
What Dentists Need to Do
If your website uses pop-up ads of any kind, it’s time to take a hard look at whether you really need to have them. There are other ways to induce your dental prospects to take action that don’t involve intruding on their experience.
If you’re using ads to generate revenue, consider this: how many new patients would you need to offset that revenue? Quite a few internet users will automatically click off a page when a pop-up appears. Your revenue-generating scheme may actually be costing you a lot more revenue.
The location of an ad is the key factor. For instance, if the ad is just a narrow band across the top of the screen and doesn’t get in the way of the user reading the content or navigating the site, that should be fine. If it covers the text or requires the searcher to take action to proceed on your site, it has to go. It doesn’t matter whether you’re advertising your free book, offering a discount coupon, or inviting the user to take a survey.
Think ahead while you’re reviewing your ads. Even if the ad doesn’t cover the text or require action to proceed, Google may see it as disruptive. That’s not a current consideration, but it may well become one.
And speaking of future considerations, don’t be surprised if Google extends its dislike of pop-ups to non-mobile searchers. If there’s one thing online that is almost universally detested, it’s the pop-up ad. 42 percent of users still use non-mobile search, and Google will focus on their experiences in due time.