If you go on the Internet and browse the discussion boards, you will find topics on just about everything you can think of and even some things you wouldn’t think of. One of these boards had a very interesting discussion that led to some very interesting testing. The discussion was about popups and whether they had an effect on search engine rankings.
One guy at the site said, “How can it? Why would a search engine care?”. This led to some interesting theories involving the “annoyance” factor and a number of other things. Finally, these people, who obviously had too much time on their hands, did some testing over a period of several months to see if this theory carried any weight.
They each took their web sites and tracked their progress without popup windows for a period of time. They did this for each of the major search engines. They then added popup windows to their sites and watched to see if their rankings went up or down. The results may surprise you.
As it turned out, the popup windows most definitely had an effect on search engine ranking. The problem was that not all the rankings were affected in the same way.
When tracing the progress of each site for Yahoo, the change in ranking was odd to say the least. When tracked for a period of eight months, the first three months showed a gradual lowering in ranking. Between months four and six the trend began to level off. Months seven and eight actually showed a slight increase in ranking almost to the level where the pages were back in month one.
With Google however it was a completely different story. From the moment the popups were installed on the sites Google rankings increased by a scale of +92 on a -100 to +100 scale. This is an absolutely amazing number. There was absolutely no doubt after the tests were completed that Google ranks pages with popups much higher than the same pages when they didn’t have popups. Of course when contacted, Google would neither confirm or deny this. Their reply was simply that pages are ranked based on content and traffic.
There are a few things that need to be pointed out about how this study was done. For starters, over 1000 queries for over 10,000 sites were used as criteria for the results so the sample was certainly large enough.
Also, in conducting this test, no attempt was made to isolate different keywords in order to skew the results. Keywords were chosen randomly from all different types of sites from home business to healthcare to game sites. The number of keywords used was quite extensive.
At the end of the study, the people who conducted it came to the following conclusion. “While it appears on the surface that search engines do take popups into consideration when ranking a site, we can’t say for certain whether this is indeed a factor or not.”
By John Hester