Are pop ups on websites good or bad for SEO?

Almost every website has a pop up now – pushing you to sign up for something, or click on something, or download something, or buy something… but do you know if your pop ups are actually working? Are they converting customers? Are they helping the performance of your website? And are they any good for SEO or are they detrimental to it? So many questions!

I’m going to break it down for you – pop ups are not dead, but if you don’t stick to these golden rules then you’ll probably find that nobody is or will sign up for your email list, which means you won’t attract or retain customers, or see an increase in the conversion rates of your sign up or pop up.

But first – some stats about pop ups, brought to you by

  • The top 10% highest-performing pop-ups averaged a 9.28% conversion rate. And, by conversion rate, we mean someone who saw a pop-up and took action.

  • Only 3 out of 100 people ever have pop-ups with conversion rates over 11%.

  • The average conversion rate for all pop-ups is 3.09%.


1. Give us a DECENT reason to sign up.. and saying you will send us information is not enough.

Sorry, but you think we’re going to hand over our precious email address to get “special news”, think again. Why? Because what makes it so special? Why are you any different to all the other websites that say they’ll send us special news? This reason is just not enough to entice us over. And while I’m at it, if you don’t even offer that as a reason, and just have a “sign up to our list” option, then forget it.

Example of a shitty sign up incentive:

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 7.28.12 pm.png

Why is this shitty?

– the offer is boring

– the headline is awful

– red indicates ‘stop’

– the copy is uninviting

Offer us something we actually would want – popular suggestions include a discount on our first order (and 10% is kinda boring, by the way), free shipping, a small gift, the chance to win something awesome, a downloadable that will actually help us in some way (checklists, how to guides etc) – something substantial!

Example of a great sign up incentive

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 7.28.19 pm.png

Why’s it great?

– Good/comedic headline

– Good copy

– Has personality

– Good CTA

2. Popups on mobile websites are a NO

I’m sure you’ve landed on a website before where a pop up immediately appears, and you can’t work out how to exit it or get rid of it, or you have to zoom in soooooo close to try and press the ‘x’ button, right? Well Google thinks they’re annoying too! That’s right, Google thinks mobile pop ups are as annoying as what we think – so they will actually penalise you now if you have a mobile pop up that covers the important content that’s on your site, that people have come to to your site to find. So get rid of them! Desktop pop ups are OK though, as long as they don’t cover up the important stuff.

3. Don’t set your pop up to appear ‘immediately’ when a person lands on your site

When we land on your website, especially for the first time, we want to figure out:

– if we’re in the right place

– if your website is going to help us in some way

– who you are and what you do

– judge you before you smash us with a promo pop up

And yes, people will judge you and your website based on your home page; got a crappy home page that doesn’t explain who you are or what you do? Bubbye.

Instead, set your pop up to appear 20 seconds after a person lands on your site – and not when they hit the Exit button either, because by then, they’ve already decided they’re leaving, so don’t be annoying and make it harder for us to do so.

4. Don’t fill the pop up with an essay – get to the point

Pop ups do not need lots of information; they’re there to give a super short and enticing offer for sticking around long enough to learn about what your site provides or offers – short text, minimal form details (enter email is enough, we don’t need to know your full name, DOB, address, favourite colour etc), but also try to use clever headlines to grab our attention, such as “SIGN UP FOR FREEBIES” or “JOIN US TO GET FREE SHIPPING” – get to the point and let us get on with our day.

5. Your call to action (CTA) needs to match your offer

Would you click “Join The Group” when a pop-up asks to sign up for a discount?

Would you click “Subscribe” when a pop-up promised just an ebook?

We asked super talented copywriting extraordinaire Ami Williamson from Damn Write Copywriting to give us her best tip around CTA’s on pop ups:

“Repeat the benefit in the button; so what benefit will the reader get from hitting that button? How will their day/biz/life improve? And for the love of all things conversion, stay away from button copy like “submit” or “subscribe” #yawn

Also, phrasing it as if the reader if saying it helps conversion… so “sort out my biz systems” rather than “sort out your biz systems”

Make sense?


Context is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. This extract from explains this very well:

“You might have the best content in the world. But if the context is wrong, then the message dies.

Context is what you surround your message with. Context gives additional meaning and understanding to your message.

Oh, and context is what gives the best pop-ups conversion rates over 40%.

At the tippity top of the highest converting pop-ups stands a very firm trend — context. Your web page does the work of establishing value, then the pop-up materializes out of nowhere, building on that value.”

So, here’s your homework:

– Check the conversion rate of your pop up (via your website builder or Google Analytics)

– Decide if the conversion rate could do with some boosting

– Look at your pop up and ask yourself “is it enticing enough?”, “would I sign up to a list based on what they’re offering?”

– Think about how you could improve the wording on your pop up including the Heading and the CTA text (if you have ‘subscribe’ or ‘sign up’ then put your thinking cap on and come up with something less boring)

– If you’ve had the same pop up for over a year, get creative and give it a makeover; offer something different

– If your pop up is set to ‘immediately’ appear when a person lands on your site, change it to 20 seconds

– Turn off your pop up for your mobile site


Written by: Karlie Plowman – The Techno Bird