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Cookie consent is necessary to ensure compliance with privacy regulations like GDPR and ePrivacy Directive (Cookie Law) in Europe, CCPA, VCDPA, CPA in the USA, LGPD in Brazil, and others. Cookie consent banners or pop-ups are used to inform users about their personal data collection and management and to collect Cookie Consent.
However, website owners often wonder if these cookie banners could damage your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rank. In June 2021, Google released an algorithm update called “The Page Experience Update” that prioritizes pages with quality page performance. Page experience could be impacted by many factors, including Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS security, and “intrusive elements that block web content".
In this article, we’ll explore how Cookie Consent and cookie banners can impact a website’s SEO and provide recommendations on how to correctly implement a Cookie Banner that complies with privacy laws and does not damage your website’s SEO rank.
Understanding Cookie Consent
Before we dive into the potential SEO implications, let's first understand what Cookie Consent is and why it's important. Cookies are small pieces of data stored on a user's device when they visit a website. There are different types of cookies, including strictly necessary cookies, performance cookies, advertising cookies, tracking cookies, and others, and they serve for different purposes.
Website owners must get Cookie Consent from users prior to storing cookies on users’ devices. This isn't a recommendation. It is a legal requirement, regulated by strict privacy laws. Non-compliance with the privacy laws could lead to huge fines, from $2,500 per website user to €20 million or more.
Cookie Consent collected from users must be stored for proof of compliance.
The Role of SEO in Website’s Reach
When users search for information online, they use search engines like Google to find relevant web pages among millions of others. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is crucial for websites as it directly affects websites’ visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO is used to get better search engine ranks for relevant keywords and phrases by optimizing different on-page and off-page aspects like keywords, meta descriptions and titles, headers, and backlinks.
Your website has to be SEO-optimized to be shown on top of result pages by search engines. Anything, that hurts SEO rank, should be eliminated or changed.
The Impact of Cookie Consent on Your Website’s SEO Rank
Now, let’s look if Cookie Consent banners can affect your website's SEO rank.
- Page load speed. One concern related to cookie banners is that they could increase the page load time. Cookie banners are typically loaded early in the page load process, are shown to all users, and can potentially influence the loading of ads and other page content. Google algorithms consider page speed as a ranking factor, and slower websites may rank lower in search results. As long as you follow the best cookie banner practices, banners contribute to just a minimal delay, which is not significant enough to have a substantial impact on SEO.
- Mobile friendliness. Another factor to consider is if your Cookie Consent banner is mobile-friendly. With the increasing use of mobile devices for internet browsing, for Google algorithms it’s very important your cookie banner’s mobile usability when ranking websites. Ensure that your Cookie Consent banner is responsive for all browsing devices (PCs, mobile phones, tablets) and doesn't disrupt the user experience.
- Content accessibility. The usage of cookie consent can affect content accessibility. If your banner covers part of the content on your website or disrupts user navigation, this will decrease page experience dramatically. Since Google and other search engines consider page experience as one of the main factors for SERP, it could negatively impact your SEO rank. Using of cookie walls is not allowed by many privacy laws, and it would also negatively impact your SEO rank, so don’t use them. Ensure that the banner is unobtrusive and allows users to access content easily.
- Google's guidelines and certifications. Google itself needs to comply with privacy laws since non-compliance leads to fines. If you want to use Google advertisement products like Google AdSense, Ad Manager, or AdMob, you must use a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP) integrated with IAB’s TCF 2.2. Recently, Google launched new consent management requirements for CMPs to get Google certification for serving ads in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK. Google certification needs an updated IAB TCF 2.2 compliance. Only Google-certified CMP can provide you with a correct Cookie Banner that is privacy-friendly and complies with regulations. Thus, Google encourages website owners to implement cookie consent in the correct way, and it shouldn’t hurt your website’s SEO rank. Just the opposite- if you use a Cookie Banner that does not comply with privacy laws, don’t use a banner at all, or use non-certified CMP, it could decrease your website’s SEO rank.
How to Correctly Implement a Cookie Banner That Doesn’t Hurt SEO Rank?
- CookieScript Cookie Banner doesn’t hurt page load speed.
- CookieScript Cookie Banner is mobile-friendly.
- CookieScript cookie banner doesn’t affect content accessibility.
- CookieScript is a Google-certified CMP, present in Google's list of Google-certified CMPs.
How to Test Cookies?
You can use various methods to test cookies for web performance and SEO. One such method is a cookie audit with CookieScript. A cookie audit can provide a report on your cookie usage, compliance, and optimization. Cookie monitoring can also track the effects of cookies on your website speed, performance, and SEO metrics.
Perform a cookie audit for free with CookieScript!
Cookie consent is necessary to ensure compliance with privacy laws. It is a legal requirement, not a recommendation. The question is not if to use a cookie banner or not to use it on your website, but how to correctly implement a cookie banner that complies with privacy laws and does not damage your website’s SEO rank. We have evaluated if cookie consent banners can affect page load speed, mobile friendliness, content accessibility, and Google's guidelines and recommendations, and found that cookie banners have minimal effect on SEO ranking if implemented correctly. Just the opposite- if you use a cookie banner that does not comply with privacy laws, don’t use a banner at all, or use non-certified CMP, it could decrease your website’s SEO rank.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cookie consent damage your website’s SEO rank?
If you correctly implement a cookie banner that complies with privacy laws and Google's guidelines and recommendations, it will not damage your website’s SEO rank. Your banner should be mobile-friendly, don’t block content accessibility, and follow Google's guidelines and recommendations. One of the requirements is to use a Google-certified CMP like CookieScript.
How to correctly implement a cookie banner that will not damage SEO rank?
To comply with privacy laws and don’t hurt your website’s SEO rank, you need to correctly implement a cookie consent banner banner. Use a reliable Consent Management Platform like CookieScript to implement a cookie banner that doesn’t hurt page load speed, is mobile friendly, and doesn’t block content accessibility. CookieScript is a Google-certified CMP, present in Google's list of Google-certified CMPs.
Do cookie banners increase the web page load time?
As long as you follow the best cookie banner practices, banners don’t affect the web page load time and do not damage your website’s SEO rank. To correctly implement a Cookie Consent banner, use a reliable Consent Management Platform like CookieScript, which is a Google-certified CMP.
How to test cookies?
One of the methods to test cookies for web performance and SEO is a cookie audit. The cookie audit with CookieScript provides a report on your cookie usage, compliance, and optimization. Cookie monitoring can also track the effects of cookies on your website speed, performance, and SEO metrics. Perform a cookie audit for free with CookieScript!