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Can Pop-Ups Cause Google Page Experience Problems? [2024] 💥

Can Pop-Ups Cause Google Page Experience Problems?


Pop-ups, often used for advertising or collecting user information, can potentially affect a website's performance, especially in the eyes of Google. In understanding their impact, it's essential to dive deep into Google's Page Experience metrics and the significance of Core Web Vitals. This article delves into the intricacies of Google's measurement tools, real-world vs. lab data, and how all of these elements can be affected by the presence of pop-ups.


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The Difference Between Lab Data and Real-World Data

Lighthouse, Google's tool, provides lab data for pagespeed. This lab data, contrary to some beliefs, does not factor into the page experience or core web vitals data. Instead, it serves as a debugging tool, giving a rough indication of potential problems. It's important not to take these numbers at face value since real-world data might differ significantly. A positive change reflected in the lab data might also show an improvement in the real-world data, but these values are relative and not absolute.

Google Search Console exclusively uses real-world data for generating the scores in page experience and detecting issues. This real-world data is obtained through the CrUX tool, which captures actual browser analytics from users who have enabled the usage statistics option in their browser settings. Interestingly, CrUX doesn't employ the Lighthouse engine for this data collection.

Priority of Data: Field Data Report vs. Origin Summary Report

If a URL receives substantial real-world traffic, and the users have the usage statistics enabled, CrUX will produce a Field Data Report. If the URL doesn't have sufficient data for this report, it reverts to the origin summary report.

The Field Data Report is computed by:

  • Averaging each metric for all the real-world views (FCP, LCP, CLS, FID).
  • Determining the percentage of views that are green, yellow, or red for that specific URL and metric.

For instance, if a URL's metrics show 75% green, 15% yellow, and 10% red, it means that out of 100 views on that page, 75 met the score for a particular metric. A "good" URL must have an overall score exceeding 90% for a minimum of 75% of its views. Furthermore, such a URL should also have zero mobility, security, and ad experience issues.

However, if there's no Field Data Report for a URL, it doesn't necessarily mean the absence of any field data. The URL might not have enough data to offer a reliable aggregated score. In such cases, the URL will inherit the score from a similar URL with a generated Field Data Report. Without any similar URLs, the site falls back on the origin summary, which might average views from all pages.

Improving Google Page Experience Scores

Initial traffic on a newly launched website can significantly influence its origin summary. If most initial traffic is directed towards poorly performing pages, it can set a negative precedent for future evaluations. Though one might make substantial improvements to these pages later, the origin summary might not reflect these changes unless there's enough traffic to generate new, updated data.

To counter this, one can take two primary actions:

  • Enhance the overall user experience across all pages. This strategy focuses on improving the origin summary score. With enough traffic, this improvement can help shift the percentage of "good" URLs.
  • Drive traffic to URLs that have been rectified. By attracting more traffic to these URLs, one can generate a Field Data Report specific to them, potentially classifying them as "good" URLs.

Variations in Lighthouse Lab Data

Running the Lighthouse tool multiple times on the same link can yield different lab data results. Factors influencing these variations include server response time, conditions of the CDN, the external resources serving the site, and the intricacies of the Lighthouse engine's interpretation of the data. The server, its hardware, software, and load can also play a significant role in these variances.

Challenges with Real-World Data

Real-world data presents its unique challenges. Unlike Lighthouse, which operates under a fixed configuration, real-world data is influenced by the device, OS, browser type, and even the plugins installed on the client's machine. Internet speed, particularly in regions with unstable connections, can substantially skew page experience scores. Importantly, this data is only sourced from users who permit the collection of usage statistics.

The Risk of Pop-Ups in Page Experience

Now, circling back to pop-ups: these elements can be intrusive and negatively influence metrics like Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Pop-ups can cause sudden layout changes, pushing content unexpectedly and leading to a poor user experience. When CLS scores fall below the 75% threshold, Google might penalize the website. Such penalties can severely affect the site's position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Conclusion

While pop-ups might seem like a useful tool for engagement, their potential negative impact on user experience and CLS metrics makes them a risky choice. With Google placing immense emphasis on Page Experience, it's crucial for website owners to prioritize user-centric metrics. A slip in these metrics, especially due to elements like pop-ups, can lead to penalties that might significantly harm a site's visibility and traffic. It's always advisable to weigh the benefits against the risks before implementing such elements on a webpage.



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