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Popup windows and SEO - can they live happily together?
seopeople




msg:4007508
 12:24 pm on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi,

This may be the 10th time or so that we address this issue and I thought of sharing our thoughts with you in hopes to get some insights on the subject.

Let’s say that a client sells widgets. While choosing a widget from the list of widgets, there is more information about the widgets that is very important for SEO. For our example, let’s use the special kind of insurance that can come with the widget. An insurance that is very popular and people search for. Let’s call a certain insurance “drowning insurance”, just for this example.

We, of course, would like the page about “drowning insurance” to be available through the site’s normal hierarchy, under home > information > insurance types > drowning insurance. Client wants the content of this page to appear in a small popup window while choosing “more information” from the widget’s info in the list of widgets. Here are the options that we have:

Option 1: The safe easy way:
Content will be placed in the page home > information > insurance types > drowning insurance.
Link from the widget list will be directed to that page and open in a new window.
Advantages:Perfect for SEO, easy!
Disadvantages:No control over the window’s size and location. “close” button on the page could be abused by someone which reaches this page from the search engines.

Option 2: The safe easy way with a bit of cloaking
Same as option 1, just this time the code behind of the page checks the referring URL. If it is the widgets list, it will show the close window button. If it isn’t, it will not show it.

Advantages:Perfect for SEO and logical to the user.
Disadvantages:Potential Cloaking? (what do you think?), No control over the window’s size and location.

Option 3: Two different URLs.
One of the Popup window and one for the regular page with the same content.

From the widget list the window, a target=”_blank” link will open a page which has a Javascript ran in onload that can change the size and location of the window. Other page will be a regular site content page.

Will use rel=canonical tag to tell Google which is the page I want it to consider…

Disadvantages:Will it work for Google? Content is not 100% identical in these two pages…

What do you think? How would you act upon this? Any other options?

Thanks for reading :)

 

FranticFish




msg:4007835
 8:02 pm on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Option 3 is perfect.
You just place a noindex,nofollow tag in the pop up window to guarantee it doesn't get indexed (although I believe pop-ups aren't crawled at this point in time anyway).

The pop up only exists to humans, Google sees the separate page. Not cloaking.

To make this more a user feature, you could have the popup window contain just an intro/overview of the insurance, then have a 'more' link that closes the popup and opens the insurance full page.

A fourth option is to have the snippet in a hidden div and use CSS/Javascript to display it over the whole page (done on lots of gallery websites). Then you could have two options in that div (a) close (b) close and read more about insurance. Then you don't have to noindex any content. Users might prefer to have the popup though as they can position this where they want and read two 'pages' at once.

tedster




msg:4007844
 8:18 pm on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've used this approach for a few sites with no problems. I also include the regular href attribute in the anchor element for any users who block javascript. It looks something like this:

<a href="pop-up.html" onClick="popupfunction('pop-up.html','windowname');return false" target="_blank">

The pop-up page's source code includes javascript that determines if the page is loaded in a window with the correct window name. If not, then use document.write() to customize the page as needed.

seopeople




msg:4009380
 11:53 am on Oct 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your answers!

The pop up only exists to humans, Google sees the separate page. Not cloaking.

There are 100s of links from the site to the popup window while there'r only a few navigation links to the separate page. The question is, will this rel=canonical tag do the trick and provide the separate page with link juice?

You just place a noindex,nofollow tag in the pop up window to guarantee it doesn't get indexed (although I believe pop-ups aren't crawled at this point in time anyway).

Won't this hurt the passing of link-juice?

Thanks!

tedster




msg:4009403
 12:36 pm on Oct 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

The question is, will this rel=canonical tag do the trick and provide the separate page with link juice?

The page's url is the same whether it's displayed as a pop-up or in the main window, no?

I believe pop-ups aren't crawled at this point in time anyway

I see pop-up pages that are most definitely crawled and indexed. Let's not any start rumors :)

Won't this [noindex/nofollow] hurt the passing of link-juice?

Yes, the nofollow will stop link juice from flowing.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4009405
 12:40 pm on Oct 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

pop-ups piss people off.

seopeople




msg:4009955
 10:01 am on Oct 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

pop-ups piss people off.

What do you base this on?

The page's url is the same whether it's displayed as a pop-up or in the main window, no?

No, because the popup contains the content only while the relevant page in the site's hierarchy contain the whole site template.

Tedster - I'm confused now ... Would you be kind and explain the solution again?

Thanks.

potentialgeek




msg:4010012
 12:30 pm on Oct 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm currently looking for research into user response to popups.

There's a long discussion about it, pros and cons, when to, when not to, here:

Should Links Open In New Windows?

[smashingmagazine.com...]

p/g

P.S. I'm glad browsers now have new tabs instead of just new windows.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4010581
 6:19 am on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

seopeople, if they didn't piss people off, they wouldn't have pop-up blockers, would they ? (plus, they piss me off and the people I work with).

mcneely




msg:4010598
 7:13 am on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

I haven't written a popup in years.

I remember the good old days of the not-so-distant past, when a popup, led to a popup, and a popup was led to from that popup .. a nasty mess of pages full of total rubbish. Then there were the pages you didn't even dare to close .. because if you did .. you'ld be barraged with no less than 4 more pages via popup.

A New Scientist poll said that up to 81 percent of Americans use some sort of pop-up blocker with their browser [source: New Scientist, December 16, 2006, Vol. 192, Issue 2582, p. 23].

.. and though the survey be a bit old, I believe the same holds true today. Especially when dealing with many popular blogs and news sites, where one has to navigate the page as if it were a mine field .. being careful to not mouseover over selected words for fear of the scripted 250 x 150 info box popping up over the half read article. (the biggest peeve of late, by the way)

Popups are a bad scene. Even though you might use the popup for good intent, you have to remember that for every good info filled, educational popup, there are going to be 2,000 worthless popups floating about out there in cyberspace to compete.

TheMadScientist




msg:4010601
 7:28 am on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

pop-ups piss people off.

What do you base this on?

Me...

onepointone




msg:4010620
 7:58 am on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

wow, I thought pop-ups pretty much died 3 years ago...

tedster




msg:4010798
 1:56 pm on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

because the popup contains the content only while the relevant page in the site's hierarchy contain the whole site template

Let me understand this - the exact same url will display its content within entire site template if it's accessed directly - but if that url is accessed in a pop-up window, then only the text content is displayed.

Is that correct? And if so, how does the source code determine whether the pop-up is accessed within a new pop-up window or directly?

Wlauzon




msg:4010997
 6:46 pm on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with some here that popups piss me off.

tedster




msg:4011035
 7:35 pm on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Folks, this isn't a poll about whether you like pop-ups. I suspect that some of the responses aren't even differentiating between informational pop-ups that render after the use CLICKS and advertising pop-ups that load all on their own, with NO USER ACTION.

But whatever the kind of pop-up, the question asked is whether there are SEO challenges from using pop-ups. And there can be, but a little bit of forethought and intelligent coding can sidestep those issues. I assume here that we are discussing javascript launched new windows. There can be elements that look like pop-ups but they are css/javascript combinations and the source code is right in the original server response.

The big deal for me is what happens if the content in a url, intended for a pop-up page, gets accessed directly because it starts to rank and generate search traffic. Somehow you want that visitor to be attracted into the rest of the website.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4011078
 9:24 pm on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Folks, this isn't a poll about whether you like pop-ups. I suspect that some of the responses aren't even differentiating between informational pop-ups that render after the use CLICKS and advertising pop-ups that load all on their own, with NO USER ACTION.

To me, and I guess a number of others here will agree - that a pop-up is the latter. ie. NO USER ACTION

If a user clicks on a link, then it should be called "opened in a new window" - no matter what size that window is.

To me, they are different things.
So which is it ? Pop up or open in new window ?

tedster




msg:4011090
 9:43 pm on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

The opening post says: "Client wants the content of this page to appear in a small popup window while choosing “more information” from the widget’s info in the list of widgets."

That sounds to me like the page is loaded after a user's click.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4011094
 10:08 pm on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

That sounds to me like the page is loaded after a user's click

Then the header is wrong. [Popup windows and SEO]

tedster




msg:4011138
 11:08 pm on Oct 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

What kind of event opens a new window does not affect the SEO - and that interaction is the question. In fact, if the new window is opened by any kind of javascript at all, there is a decent possibility that the content of that window will not be indexed. That's an SEO effect.

If the new window contains content that the site does want to see indexed (as the client in this case apparently requested), then the best way I know of to achieve that goal is to have a regular html link to the same url. That's what the code I offered above achieves:

<a href="pop-up.html" onClick="popupfunction('pop-up.html','windowname');return false" target="_blank">

So you can have an "informational pop-up" and also have that content indexed.

It seems from reading the thread that something is different between the two ways of loading this added information - namely the presence of the full page template when the content is loaded in the same window. The question is, does the source code have the same URL no matter whether it is displayed in the original window or a new one?

If the two methods also use different urls, then you want to keep the "pop-up" version out of the index.

The question is, will this rel=canonical tag do the trick and provide the separate page with link juice?

So it sounds as though the two loading methods are using a different url. I've never faced this situation, so I can't say for sure if the rel="canonical" meta tag will send link juice or not.

As a general rule, there cannot be "too much difference" between the page and it's canonical version, or else Google will simply not listen to the "canonical request". Since the difference is the entire page template, with all its links and whatnot, I'd say there is a good chance that link juice sent to the pop-up version will NOT be added to the stand-on-its-own url.

TheMadScientist




msg:4011193
 12:34 am on Oct 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Option 4

Show a hidden <div id="popup"></div> which is filled with the desired content depending on where the click happens with JS / AJAX.

<script>
function showContent(ContentToShow) {

/* Make an AJAX GET request to the page containing the content referenced by ContentToShow */

document.getElementById('popup').innerHTML = result;
document.getElementById('popup').style.display = "block";
document.getElementById('popup').style.zIndex = "2";
document.getElementById('popup').style.position = "absolute";
document.getElementById('popup').style.top = "50px";

/* You get the point */
}

function hideContent() {
document.getElementById('popup').innerHTML="";
document.getElementById('popup').style.display = "none";
}
</script>

<a href="javascript:showContent('ReferenceToContent');">Link Text</a>

No inbound links = Little to no SEO impact.

You could even make it 'not a link':
<span class="LooksLikeALink" style="cursor: pointer; text-decoration: underline; color: blue;" onClick="showContent('ReferenceToContent');">Link Text</span>

* It's possible I'm not understanding the question correctly, but I think this is the way I would go personally.

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 12:44 am (utc) on Oct. 22, 2009]

tedster




msg:4011199
 12:42 am on Oct 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've been using option 2 (in the first post) for a long time, and with no bad effects that I can see.

TheMadScientist




msg:4011201
 12:52 am on Oct 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

That's the cool thing about scripting languages and SEO...
There's 10 ways to arrive at the same basic result and which you choose is up to you.

The question was about SEO impact and using the 'no text hidden div' which displays content dynamically inserted on a mouse event means you basically don't have to worry about link juice passing or not passing or whatever, because it requires a mouse even to show, does not require an actual link (using the <span> example I posted), and the chances of picking up a link to the page generating the html (it could even be coded into the JS) are minimal, so there's almost no thought to SEO impact. You don't even have to think about it and you can basically do what you want... Besides, you can't block my example with a pop-up blocker, because there's no window to open (LOL :).

tedster




msg:4011253
 2:27 am on Oct 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Agreed, there can be many tools that achieve the same result - and that definitely is cool. I think the challenge in this case is seopeople's desire: "We, of course, would like the page about "drowning insurance" to be available through the site’s normal hierarchy under home > information > insurance types > drowning insurance."

If they link directly, then the information would be hidden when the page first loads.

TheMadScientist




msg:4011291
 4:10 am on Oct 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hmmmm... Maybe I'm not understanding, so let me try to be concise, which is difficult for me in a general setting...

If I wanted to display 'essentially the same' information via PopUp I would use the method I outlined a couple posts ago on whatever page I wanted to show the pop-up on. I would not remove the information from the regular page within the hierarchy... Basically, what I suggested gives you a way to 'duplicate' your content without ever worrying or thinking about a SE knowing you did.

<body onLoad="showContent('$SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] = ContentToShow');">

The above in 'correct' PHP & JS would show the content dynamically based on the referrer, and would show on an initial page load...

Again, 10 ways to arrive at a conclusion, and the implementation is up to the individual user, but I'd wager there is a way I could do what is asked with PHP, JS and an 'empty div' as well as anyone else can using any of the other methods described... (I actually might be able to do better since I don't have to worry about a pop-up blocker installed on any browser to show the information I feel like showing to a visitor... If I feel like showing you a 'pop-up' there's not much chance you'll stop me, but I don't like 'em, so I don't use 'em personally.)

Just my .02 and the OP will have to decide based on their own ideas and ability to implement the ideas & thoughts thrown out here, some of which require a higher degree of creativity and/or knowledge than others to implement effectively in any given situation.

seopeople




msg:4013422
 10:07 am on Oct 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you all for your replies...

I’ve worked out the way I’m going to do it, and here it goes:

1.All of the details pages will be under the main site’s hierarchy: Home > Information > Insurance Details > {0} (Change with name of the page)

2.The pages themselves will have an anchor in the beginning of the information (under the top part of the site’s template).

3.The link from the lists of items will be as follows:

<a href="{1}#anchor" onClick="popupfunction('{1}','windowname');return false;" target="_blank">

(replace {1} with the url of the information page)

4.The information page will have a function that checks the referrer . If it is a product list, a “close window” button will be displayed as well.

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