Google has confirmed that it will soon be punishing publishers who use pop-up ads on mobile that are hard to dismiss. Google believes that these “intrusive interstitials” have a detrimental impact on user experience, and will roll out a new algorithm update next year that will push mobile sites that feature these ads further down in the search engine page rankings.
It is important to note that Google won’t be clamping down on all uses of interstitials — it is focussing purely on those that are particularly annoying and cumbersome to get rid of, such as ads that take up a whole page and have tiny buttons for dismissing them. Basically, any ad that makes content less accessible will not be viewed favourably by the search engine giant.
“We previously explored a signal that checked for interstitials that ask a user to install a mobile app,” Google said. “As we continued our development efforts, we saw the need to broaden our focus to interstitials more generally. Accordingly, to avoid duplication in our signals, we’ve removed the check for app-install interstitials from the mobile-friendly test and have incorporated it into this new signal in Search.”
The negative ranking for some types of interstitials is one of two major updates to mobile search results. The other is the removal of the “mobile-friendly” label in SERPs, which was originally launched to show internet users whether particular web pages or content were optimised for mobile devices.
Google feels that the labels have run their course as an impressive 85 per cent of pages in mobile SERPs now meet the mobile-literate criteria set out by the tech giant. Google says that removing the label will also ensure that search results remain uncluttered. This is just an aesthetic change as mobile-friendliness continues to be a key ranking signal.
To meet Google’s guidelines for mobile optimisation, content providers are urged to avoid software, such as Flash, that are uncommon on smartphones or tablets, to increase the size of text so that it is easy to read without zooming, and to size content correctly. Any links should also be spaced apart so that no more than one can be tapped at once.