Realities of Google’s First Mobile Crackdown

Realities of Google’s First Mobile Crackdown

For months, marketers wearily anticipated Google’s looming mobile algorithm update (#PopupDoomsday) and its implications.


Prior to the release of the update on January 10, 2017, some brands heeded the warnings and adopted on-site strategies following AddShoppers’ methodology to avoid drops in search rankings post-update.

However, some ignored the fair warning and gambled with their hard-earned search engine positions.

Day zero of the update was nothing short of anticlimactic. However, two days later confirmation of negative impacts started emerging. Throughout January 2017 the roll-out continued with up-and-down results. This gave way to speculation that the update was either weak, resulting in no impacts, or Google was having issues with the change. 

John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, took to Twitter to inquire SEO experts if the signal needed to be stronger. Upon asking, his question was answered with a resounding “yes.” Then, when questioned about the update during a Google Live session on 1/24/17, Mueller stated that Google does not have any concrete dates for when they will update the public about the inner-workings of the algorithm change -- leaving marketers wondering what’s coming next and when a heavier penalty might be unleashed.

Further, because Google often has to be careful regarding how the algorithms work, there are only basic details available to adjust strategies until the changes go into place. Much like changes in the past, what has been since dubbed Mobile Popup Doomsday has rolled out and brands are now starting to see noticeable impacts.

Over the course of three months, AddShoppers and Blue Acorn tracked and analyzed 20 eCommerce brands that used mobile popups. The results found were surprising, confusing, and yet clarified many hypotheses regarding the future of mobile lead capture using interstitials.

Due to the vagaries of Google’s announcement, there was not a great deal of information to go on regarding how much or how little a brand could get away with when it comes to mobile popups. With the data pulled, some of the assumptions both parties considered leading up to the rollout have been confirmed, but it looks like there is a lot of wiggle room for what sites become impacted.

While the long-term effects of the new algorithm change remain to be seen, we’ve uncovered several commonalities between sites that saw search ranking penalties and those that didn’t.

Interested in seeing the results of our research? 

Watch the webinar replay to learn about the common themes, negatively impacted sites, along with solutions and best mobile practices.

The replay page gives you access to a full-length report that includes additional findings not discussed during the live session.

This article was a collaboration with Elliot Volkman, Digital Marketing Manager at Blue Acorn. Read more of his work here.