Chat boxes can be essential for any legal website. It helps your users connect with you instantly to get their questions answered. Sometimes a phone call or a contact form just doesn’t cut it. I know I always hit the live chat box before calling someone, just because it’s easier for me to understand a person’s written command than someone talking me through a problem. But there are a few problems with the chat box. It can be…well…intrusive, for a lack of a better word. Like you’re trying to read a page about your issue and then next thing you know, the screen goes dark and a chat box is in your face. No, I don’t want to chat just now, thank you. Click.

Although this can be a minor annoyance, Google believes it can hurt user experience. And that’s why it rolled out the intrusive interstitials mobile penalty last week. Other than being a mouthful, what this penalty means is if you have a popup on your mobile website, you’re going to get hit with a penalty and your SEO will decrease.

This penalty is important in two ways – one, it’s showing that Google is favoring the mobile websites more than the desktop version (although there are grumblings the intrusive interstitials penalty will be coming to desktop websites soon enough) and two, that Google is really honing in on the user experience. After all, there’s nothing worse than trying to get rid of a popup on your mobile browser.

But it also brings up a good question: What does this mean for a chat box? It is a popup so will you be penalized for having it on your mobile site? Well, it depends on how your chat box is presented. According to Search Engine Land, Google is targeting three types of intrusive interstitials. Check it out:

intrusive interstitials penalty enx2 marketing

What’s not affected are:

  • Legal obligation popups, like cookie usage or age verification
  • Long dialogs where content isn’t indexable for the public, like private content in an email or content behind a paywall
  • A banner that uses a reasonable amount of screen space and can easily be dismissed, like a small chat box in the corner of your screen

So here’s the question of the day: Are chat boxes even necessary on your mobile site? In my opinion, yes they are. Like I said above, not everyone wants to get on the phone with someone to talk about their issue (aka me). And sometimes an issue needs to be answered right away and an email is just not going to cut it. A chat box, even if it’s a robot on the other end, can give you the help you need. If you use a chat box on the mobile site, you might notice that you can text your questions. And come on, who doesn’t like to text?

If you have any questions about your SEO or mobile website, you need a sharp, experienced marketing team to help you out. Contact ENX2 Marketing today and take your business to the next level.