You’ve probably heard the big news by now: Google has begun penalizing sites that use “intrusive” ads (a.k.a. pop-ups) and marketers who use them could start to take a hit on their SEO.
The trouble is, pop-up ads (and their close relative, “hover” ads) generate leads, which is why marketers have continued to use them despite pushback from users. On the other hand, the proliferation of ads online has encouraged many users to install ad-blockers. These block all ads online, so they’re unequivocally bad news for businesses.
With that in mind, Google’s new policy could be a net benefit for marketers. That’s certainly their intention: by cracking down on the most annoying ads online, they hope to disincentivize the use of ad-blockers.
So how can you still reach your market, without running afoul of Google’s new tweaks? And most importantly, how do you create great ads that get your message out, without* *annoying your audience?
Here’s our guide to creating effective ads that Google won’t penalize, and your users won’t hate.
1. Make your content great.
Our first tip is the eternal truth about digital marketing: the best ad is great content. Users go online to learn. If they’re shopping for a product or service, they want all the facts before they pull the trigger.
Truly great content is engaging, relevant and offers something no-one else does. With content like that, your site will survive every new Google penalty and keep readers coming back for more.
If you haven’t in awhile, go back through your website and take stock of your assets. Figure out which content is bringing you leads and which needs to be revised.
2. Don’t stand between users and what they want.
Research shows that users are most annoyed by ads that interrupt, or distract them from what they’re looking for. We’ve already established that great content is what will attract visitors to your site. To keep them (and Google) happy, make sure your ads don’t block or interfere with your content.
As internet users get more savvy, and move increasingly to mobile, they’re looking for instant access to information. Google’s own research shows that users dislike ads the most when the ads block their access to content, or make them wait several seconds to see content. Obviously, ads that blare sound or flash obnoxious graphics are big no-no. If you want to use a pop-up ad, try one that appears at the end of a user’s visit, instead of the beginning, so their access to your content isn’t blocked.
There’s good news: some hover ads don’t seem to bother users at all. Google’s report showed that most users don’t mind small hover ads that stay at the bottom or top of a page, because these ads don’t block their access to content.
3. Optimize your ads for mobile.
Google’s new penalties are largely motivated by the switch to mobile: over half of web users are on their mobile devices at any given time, and they have more exacting needs than desktop users. Obviously, mobile users also have less screen real estate. This means ads should be small and to-the-point, and most importantly, they should enhance your content instead of interfering with it.
Mobile users tend to be more goal-driven, and more pressed for time, than desktop users. This means they’ll have even less patience for so-called “prestitial” or “interstitial” ads that interrupt their access to what they’re looking for. Instead, opt for unobtrusive hover ads that don’t block content, or ads that users can scroll past as they read.
4. Make your ads relevant and responsive.
This is where good marketing automation can help you create smart ads. Rather than showing the same ad to all users, use templates to personalize your advertising, to appeal to users based on the content they’re most interested in. For example, if a user clicks on an article about a particular service you offer, show them an ad for that particular service.
Bad advertising misleads or frustrates users, while smart advertising leaves them wanting more. To keep users’ attention, give them great content, and then guide them further down the chain with ads that speak to their specific concerns and needs.
5. Think outside the pop-up.
If you use the right approach, hover ads, banner ads, and even some pop-ups can still play a role in your marketing, without incurring Google penalties. However, to really grab leads you’ll have to think outside the pop-up, with smarter, more native advertising.
Make sure your content always has an easily-accessible CTA. If your content is great, they’ll be hungry for more and looking for what you have to offer. A “contact us” button that stays in the corner of the screen is a great example. Again, if a user is interested in a particular aspect of your business, show them responsive CTAs that tell them exactly how they can get even more of what they’re looking for.
You can also grab leads with landing pages, that lead users to premium content that they can access by providing an email address. This gives you a window to email marketing, and another opportunity to demonstrate your value to potential customers.
If you need help crafting effective, native advertising for your site, Demodia is here for you. We’re ready with marketing solutions that are SEO-friendly and customer-centric. Simply drop us a quick message!