Google Decides to Penalize Intrusive Interstitials
Google Decides to Penalize Intrusive Interstitials

Google’s recent announcements will lead to some major changes in search engine optimization trends. Reportedly, Google has decided to drop the “mobile-friendly” labels in search results, as the company feels it’s not necessary anymore considering the fact that about 85% of pages that appear in mobile search results are mobile-friendly.

Website owners will still be able to check whether their websites meet Google’s mobile-friendliness criteria. This announcement, however, doesn’t affect the ranking of pages in the mobile search results. The second announcement stirred up a little bit of controversy.

Google’s recent post reads:

Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. 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.

This means intrusive interstitial ads in websites will incur penalty from Google as they hinder the users’ access to content.

The types of interstitials that could get the website penalized include:

  • Ads that the user will have to dismiss so as to access the main content
  • Popup ads that cover the main content while the user navigates the page
  • Ads that appear above the content and obstructs the user from navigating without tending to the ad first

Google, however, also made it clear that “responsible interstitials” will not be penalized. For instance, the interstitials for cookie usage, age restriction etc. that appears in response to legal obligations, login dialogs on websites where content is not available for the public, advertisement banners that don’t take up a lot of space and can be easily dismissed etc. will not be penalized.

Full-screen banners can be penalized, with the company stating that it hinders users from viewing the contents. Google’s decision to support full-screen interstitials in response to legal obligation while penalizing full-screen banners like app-install, has been questioned by other search engines. The restrictions will be active from 2017 onwards.