A Mobile Chat Feater May Trigger Google Penalty

How Law Firm’s Can Avoid Google’s Latest Penalty



Update: Google’s Mobile First Penalty may now roll out sometime in 2018.


Hi there, I’m Mike Hart and I’m here tokeep you up to date on all things digital marketing.

If you’ve paid attention to digital marketing news, you’ve seen headlines about Google’s updates and new penalties.

In January, Google rolled out a new penalty targeting sites using intrusive pop-ups on their mobile pages. Unlike other changes,  this one didn’t come with a cute name like panda or hummingbird. This one is called the mobile interstitial penalty.

We talked about it on our blog months ago and we put a link in the description below so you can read the post if you want or you can keep watching this video Dealer’s choice, really.

The penalty targets sites with invasive pop-ups. That can mean a pop up that covers the page’s  content, an ad a user has to close before seeing the page or using a layout where an ad pushes content below the fold. Basically, Google doesn’t want anything getting between users and content. 

This penalty hasn’t affected many sites yet, but Google can put more emphasis on it in the future and like other penalties, if this one hits your site your rankings could suffer or your site could be removed from Google search results.

In a post on Google’s webmaster forum John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, said this penalty only affects mobile search results. But Google plans on launching their mobile first index sometime this year, which means your site’s mobile version will play a much larger role deciding where your site shows in search results.

This is all well and good but attorneys don’t normally have ads on their web pages, so what does any of this have to do with the law firms web site?

When Google announced this penalty on their blog they listed what would and would not be penalized. A pop-up chat feature wasn’t listed as an exemption from this penalty and if you’re an attorney, you probably have a chat feature on your site to and if you’re an attorney, you probably have a chat feature on your site to capture more leads.

Clearly, you don’t want to remove chats since it could be capturing leads that don’t want to call your firm or fill out a contact form. But at the same time, you don’t want to get hit by this penalty. So what do you do?

Well, the solution is quite simple. Go to your law firms website on a mobile device. If your chat pop-up blocks the content, then you’ll want to change it.

Since chat is a third party product, let your webmaster, ad agency,  or vendor know that you don’t want it to pop up anymore and ask what the alternative options are. That way you can still have chat on your mobile-friendly pages for conversions and avoid the penalty.

And that’s it. That’s all you have to do to avoid Google’s mobile interstitial penalty. Let us know if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or sarcastic remarks and thanks for watching.

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