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Google to Punish Mobile Sites With Intrusive Ads Come January

Google plans to penalize mobile websites that permit pop-ups and other intrusive ads that interfere with user experience.

Pages that allow such ads, which are known as interstitials, may be ranked lower in its search results beginning early next year.

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible,” Google product manager Doantam Phan said in a blog post.

“This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. To improve the mobile search experience, after Jan. 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.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 1.51.40 AMSome examples of no-nos that Google will not look kindly on are:

  • Popups that cover the main content on the page, either immediately after the user arrives on a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Standalone interstitials that the user has to click off before being able to access the main content.
  • A layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

As always, there are some exceptions to the rule: Any pop up that Google deems unintrusive, or those that provide a public service, will not be penalized. Pop-ups advising users of a site’s cookie policy or those asking for age verification, for instance, will still be permitted.

Banner ads that use “a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible,” will also be permitted. App install banners from Safari or Chrome would be examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

Google also said it will be removing its mobile-friendly label because more than 85 percent of sites are now meeting the criteria.

“To keep search results uncluttered, we’ll be removing the label, although the mobile-friendly criteria will continue to be a ranking signal,” Phan said. “We’ll continue providing the mobile usability report in Search Console and the mobile-friendly test to help webmasters evaluate the effect of the mobile-friendly signal on their pages.”

About the author


Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.


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  • This is a wise and fantastic thing that Google has decided to do. the popups are design for conversion but they are also designed to keep people on the page for a micro second or more than what a ‘normal’ website would get. This to me is a form of Blackhat SEO and should be considered a very bad UI/UX, mostly UX (user experience).

    Annoying and distracting. Forbes and WSJ and other larger publishers use this consistently. I never read any of their articles due to this practice. They lost me as a customer many years ago. Whether or not they can measure me as a non-returning customer who spent less time on the site than it took to see this intrusive objective on the screen, is yet to be seen.

    Thanks Goog. P.S. Ironically, this very page/article has a popup (I can’t tell you what for… I closed it before it could finish loading)

  • Does this include newsletter signups? I assume so, but it’s never completely clear with Google. 🙂

  • Excellent! And it’s about time. All popups are intrusive and rude in my view. Even this site has one. I never click on them and always delete them out. When clicking to a page the last thing I want is some popup in my face. So many sites do this and it is very annoying.

  • As I was reading this article, I was thinking to myself that, SiteProNews has (or certainly had – the last time I visited on my mobile (I generally visit via a desktop/laptop)) an interstitial that pops up, and the comments that follow the article confirm that this is still so.

  • These types of ads are annoying for the users and thus the UX is impacted in a negative way. In this light Google is right in penalizing the sites that are using them.