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What Lawyers Should Know about Google’s Interstitial Update

Beginning January 10, 2017, if your website uses intrusive interstitials that make accessing the page’s primary content more difficult for mobile devices, you may experience a drop in your Google keyword ranking.

An interstitial is a page or advertisement a website displays before the visitor arrives at the actual page they’re trying to visit. Common examples include pop-up ads, age verification pages, or pop-ups for legal reasons like cookie usage. A law practice might use a pop-up to capture leads.

The interstitial penalty does not appear to relate to sign-in or legal verification pages. Google has also said publicly that the penalty only applies to “the interaction between the search click and going through the page and seeing the content.” So pop-ups beyond that first interaction, for example on the second page of a visit or when users signal exit-intent, should not be penalized.

By now, you should be working with your development team to remove all intrusive interstitials from your site. Since most users see pop-ups as annoying, you probably ought to do this anyway.

But that doesn’t mean your law firm can’t generate leads through your website. You can still employ a lead capture form through a notification bar that runs across the top (or bottom) of your website page. Or you can include a sidebar box with a compelling call to action that generates leads for your practice.

Of course, other ranking factors – like content relevancy – are still more important to getting your page ranked in searches. If your page is clearly the best result for a query, it’ll still show up at the top.