Do Chat Pop-Ups Hurt A Law Firm’s SEO?

In late August Google came out with some news that affected many law firm website directly.  Pop-ups – which they’re calling “Interstitial’s”.  Google said that any website that used big blocky pop-ups that took over the screen would have lower search results on mobile devices.

“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” Source

Google want’s to make users of their search engines happy and they know users hate these types of pop-ups so Google responded.  I don’t think I’m going on a limb by saying most users hate pop-ups regardless of device BUT on mobile it’s a larger annoyance for a few reasons.

  1.  If you have poor cell reception it will take longer to load the pop-up so you’ll be stuck staring at for a few extra seconds
  2.  Pop-ups on mobile can be hard to close because the close icon is hard to find and tiny
  3.   Pop-ups can take over your screen so all you can do is interact with it or not

Aside from these they suffer from the same fate as pop-ups on desktop devices namely – they’re annoying.


The problem is from a law firms perspective is that they work.  If you have chat on your website you’ll get more leads with your existing traffic.   This is especially true if your firm is using most forms of paid traffic, including AdWords or Bing ads.

Why?  Because someone coming to your paid traffic landing page usually has a higher purchase intent than someone coming to your site from an organic search and visitors with higher purchase intent are more inclined to engage with a chat agent, fill out a contact form, or make a call.

Here at Juvo Leads we want to create the best law firm chat experience possible so when we designed our mobile Chat experience we were Google compliant with the new pop-up rules even before they came out.

Here are graphical depictions of the new rules – courtesy of Google WebMaster Blog.   One quick thing to note – Google calls pop-ups interstitial.  We prefer to call them pop-ups.

Bad Pop-Ups

screenshot-6

Not Bad Pop-Ups

screenshot-5

As you can see the difference aren’t readily apparent.  But here are a few rules that we derived from Google’s statement.

  1.  Bad pop-ups are asking you buy (hence the money sign).  Good pop-ups don’t always.
  2.  Bad pop-ups ALWAYS either take over your whole screen or prevent you from doing anything but clicking on them by blacking out the rest of your screen.  Good pop-ups can be small while allowing you to ignore it, and ask permission for cookies and age requirements.

So now let’s take a look at our pop-up versus some of our competitors to see what is google friendly and what is not.  Full disclosure our law firm website pop-up is on the right – and our competitors are on the left (and yes the cell phone we tested this on did cut off the first firm’s logo).

finala4

So why is the pop-up on the left bad according to Google but the one on the right is good?   The one on the left takes over whole screen with its size and positioning, and worse of all they both black out the rest of the screen so I can’t doing anything but respond to the pop-up.  While our pop-up on the right is smaller, doesn’t prevent the user from seeing the content, doesn’t black out the screen, and does not force the visitor to interact with it.

Lastly although its not a point of emphasis with Google but it should be important for law firms is that our chats (the ones on the right) occur in the browser.  Meaning you never leave the webpage.  With the one on the left you’re sent to a new screen on a new url.  It’s clunky for the user and it takes longer to actually start chatting.

Now let’s take a look at the most popular type on the law firm websites today:

finala2

If you’ve looked at as many law firm websites that we have then you’ll recognize the layout on the left.  It’s fairly popular – but Google hates it because:

  1. It’s right in the middle of the screen
  2. It blacks out the the rest of the screen

Aside from the blatant Google violation it also opens a chat in a new window and can take up to 8 seconds to load and allow a visitor to start chatting.

For the last one let’s take a look at another popular layout.

finala5

This example is little different – the chat box on the left  Google might not like how tiny the “X” box is on the top right but I don’t think it’s a violation.  While not as blatant of a violation they do commit a few errors that some that the others commit.

  1.  List their brand name on the pop-up
  2.  Redirect you to another URL to actually chat
  3.  The person you’re chatting with doesn’t always have the same image as the person you started the chat with
  4.  The “X” to close the box is tiny and my big thumbs have trouble hitting it without simultaneously hitting the “Start Chat” button – but maybe your thumbs are smaller.
  5. The overall design is very 90’s.

None of these issues is huge in and of itself but taken as a whole they add up.

Last example I wanted to show is the poorly configured pop-up.  This pop-up either wasn’t set up correct or just doesn’t work for the website.  It’s not really a violation because it has a big “X” to close and doesn’t take over the whole screen – but it does look broken with half of the text not visible.

finala

 

Juvo Leads is different.  We wanted to change the industry for Legal Hosted Chat Services by doing 2 things.

  1.  Having better technology
  2.  Having better Chat Attendants

We have better technology because our chat boxes are 100% Google  compliant, our designs are current (We based the design on facebook chat), and all of our chat occurs in the browser.  A chat user is not redirected to a new url – which means we start chatting faster and lose less chats due to delay.

We have better Chat attendants because 90% of our competitors will take any company they can get law firm or not.  They work with doctors, dentists, pest control companies, and anyone else they can sign.  This means their chat agents aren’t specifically trained to work exclusively with law firms.

Our chat agents work ONLY with law firm because we understand the potential implications of having a person on chat believe they are getting actual legal advice.  We train our attendants on all the intricacies of each individual law firm as well as many intricacies of each law firms practice areas.  The other companies attendants are in one minute answering questions about Cavities, then the next a question about cockroach infestation.  This is not ideal for the law firms and their attendant won’t be as good as answering chats compared to OUR attendants who only answer chats for Law Firms.

If you want to try out Juvo Leads for your law firm’s website sign up below and get your first week for free.

Theodore DeBettencourt
I'm Ted and I'm the product and marketing side of Juvo Leads. I've built over 100 WordPress websites and managed online marketing campaigns for over 75 companies and law firms. I earned an accelerated JD/MBA from Case Western Reserve University in 2009 and am a 3rd generation Martha's Vineyard native.