The case for pop-ups on your recruitment website

Pop-ups are a divisive subject in the world of website design. Some feel there is no place for them as they can annoy visitors, others value their use as a conversion tactic and as a way to help direct visitors to perform an action that will be useful to them.

We encourage their use on recruitment websites but advise caution. They need to be used carefully, contextually and with purpose, respecting the user so that the pop-up helps rather than annoys. It’s a fine balance, which is why we’ve compiled this guide to help you navigate the dos and don’ts of pop-ups.

What is a pop-up?

Pop-ups are small windows that appear in the foreground while browsing a website. Used mainly as a form of advert, there are 5 basic types of pop-ups:

  • Instant – these occur before a user has had time to look at, let alone interact with, a website. They risk deterring users before they’ve even properly landed and should therefore be avoided.
  • Time-based – these need to be thoroughly tested in order to get the timing right but can still be annoying for users as they can break the focus they had absorbing your content – not what you want.
  • Scroll-based – these will be triggered after the user has scrolled down through a certain percentage of the page. As this means the user is more committed and invested in what they are digesting, they may be more receptive.
  • Action-based – appears after the user performs an action, whether that’s clicking on a word, a button, a link, or another website element. These can be tailored to the action the user is taking so could have more relevance. 
  • Leave intent – these will only appear when the user is about to leave the page. The advantage of this approach is that you are not breaking a user’s focus as they are viewing your content. You are simply offering them something they may have missed before but that would be valuable to them – and it is made all the more valuable because it has context now that they have (hopefully) absorbed some of your content.

Does Google penalise pop-ups?

In short, Google only penalises those pop-ups that require users to download an app to read the page content, those that are difficult to close, and any that hide or block content. It is, however, important to pay close attention to pop-ups on your website’s mobile version. In March 2021 Google switched to mobile-first indexing on all websites, meaning that Google will use the mobile version of your website to rank it on its search results pages. Pop-ups can be an issue on mobile devices, where the screen is far smaller. You may choose not to have pop-ups on your mobile version but that would mean your pop-ups won’t be seen by a good proportion of users and opportunities may be lost.

Google’s guidelines aimed at getting rid of ‘intrusive mobile interstitials’ (intrusive pop-up ads) define them as any which ‘make content less accessible to a user’, i.e. those that mask ‘the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.’ As long as your pop-up doesn’t fully cover the content of the page and it can easily be dismissed, Google will be kept happy. Of course, usual Google guidelines regarding content also apply so keep the content of the pop-up relevant, clear and non-spammy.

The case for pop-up

The strongest case for using pop-ups on your recruitment website is their high conversion rate. In a study analysing data from close to two billion pop-ups, the average conversion rate (i.e. a user that saw a pop-up and took direct action) was just over 3%, with the top 10% highest-performing pop-ups averaging a 9.28% conversion rate. This may not sound a lot but when you consider that another study found that the average click-through rate of traditional CTAs is just above 1%, it becomes an impressive number.

Why is the conversion rate so much higher than traditional CTAs? Implemented well, they catch users’ attention at the right time and offer them something valuable – something they may have forgotten, didn’t realise existed or didn’t know they wanted until they were offered it. It’s a great way to reduce bounce rate as you keep the user on the page for longer and it encourages interaction with your website.  

Recruitment website pop-up examples

Pop-ups can be used to good effect in a number of ways on recruitment websites:

  • Register for job alerts – a candidate may visit your jobs page but is about to leave before applying. This is the perfect time for a pop-up encouraging them to register for job alerts.
  • Subscribe for content updates or a newsletter – this is a good one for your blog page and can include blog articles, news updates and webinars. 
  • Chatbot – if a user is pressed for time or hasn’t found what they’re looking for a chatbot pop-up offering to help can keep them from clicking away.
  • Course ads – offering a CV writing or interview techniques course? Let your users know with a pop-up. 
  • Guides – if you’ve compiled a guide for candidates, a pop-up is a great way to let them know and provide an easy way to download it. 
  • Surveys – user surveys can be really helpful and are also a great way to encourage interaction. You could also do a salary survey

Pop-up dos

  • Enable the user to dismiss a pop-up.
  • Ensure they are relevant to the page and the user. 
  • Define an objective and stick to it – don’t confuse users by giving mixed messaging.
  • Keep them concise, both in what you’re conveying and what you’re asking the user to provide – a simple CTA asking for simple information works well.
  • Set them to appear at the right time and not before the user has had a chance to even see who you are and what you offer. Try a 50% scroll or exit pop-up. 
  • Monitor results – if your pop-ups are negatively affecting bounce rate and/or leads, change them. Any time you add something new to your website it is important to monitor the analytics to see it it’s working and positively impacting your website goals.

Pop-up don’ts

  • If a user has dismissed a pop-up or performed the call-to-action, don’t allow it to appear again on another page or the next time they visit your website.
  • Don’t enable more than one pop-up on the same page – this will ultimately destroy the user experience.
  • Ensure your pop-ups aren’t intrusive – this is especially important on mobile devices. A ‘non-intrusive overlay’ that only displays half the pop-up so that it can easily be dismissed is advised.

The best pop-ups grab user attention in the right way and add value to their experience. They are contextualised, related to the page and understand what the user wants. They pop up at the right time, are simple to read and to execute and don’t take over the entire page – always allow users to easily exit or they will simply click away from your website. Poorly executed they can annoy users to the point that they click away, never to return. BUT, implemented well, pop-ups can increase user interaction, provide your users with valuable information now and in the future, and capture user details. 

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