Last Friday GDPR touched down and I am sure over the past week, you received hundreds of GDPR related emails mostly from companies updating their privacy policies. But you probably also have been running into web sites that show notices about their new privacy policies and GDPR compliance changes when you first visit the site. Sometimes those notices are small banners at the top or side or footer of their web site and sometimes those notices are pop ups or something more intrusive.
How would these impact SEO and your Google search rankings? Well, Google doesn’t have any exception for the intrusive mobile interstitial penalty for GDPR requirements. You do not need to use an intrusive interstitial to notify your web site visitors about any GDPR changes to your site.
John Mueller from Google answered the question on yesterday’s Google webmaster hangout at the 37:55 mark into the video. He basically said you can use pop ups but make sure they are not intrusive, make sure the content is still visible to GoogleBot and make sure to test it with the mobile-friendly testing tool. Here is what John said:
A question about GDPR pop-ups. How will they affect SEO and usability?
I don’t. They are sometimes quite annoying, these pop-ups but they are how they are.
What doesn’t work on our side is if you replace all of the content with just an interstitial or if you redirect to an interstitial and Googlebot has to click a button to actually get to the content itself then that’s not going to happen. Then what will happen there is will index the interstitial content because that’s only thing we have on this page and we won’t know that you can actually like click a button and get a little bit more information there. Googlebot also doesn’t keep a cookie. So it wouldn’t be able to say well I’ll click accept now and the next time I crawl your website you just show me your content normally. Googlebot wouldn’t be able to to kind of return that cookie to you and say I agree with your your kind of Terms of Service.
So those are kind of the two extremes that we’ve seen.
For the most part sites get this fairly right. And you can test it of course, you see it fairly quickly in search, if your site doesn’t show up at all and the search results for normal content and probably we can’t pick that up anymore. So for the most part I think that’s working well.
You can test this on a technical level with things like the mobile-friendly test. Where you can render the page as a mobile Googlebot and then look at the HTML that is generated. So within the mobile-friendly test you can now look at the HTML after rendering and you can double check in he HTML that we can actually find your normal content and not just the interstitial.
Here is the video embed at the start time:
Forum discussion at YouTube.