In an effort to help searchers find more of the content they’re looking for in mobile search, Google has announced it will begin to devalue pages with intrusive pop-ups (otherwise known as interstitials). This change will come into effect after January 10, 2017.
Google’s definition of an intrusive interstitial is one where the main content on a page cannot be read due to interstitial covering up the entire screen. Landing on these types of pages is frustrating for users, Google says, because the pages are not immediately displaying the content users expect to see.
“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible.”
Specifically, Google will be targeting pages with interstitials that are displayed either when the user immediately lands on the page, or those which pop up while a user is scrolling through the page. In addition, Google will also target pages where the above-the-fold content is designed to look like an interstitial, with the main content being displayed underneath the fold.
Pages with banners that use a “reasonable” amount of screen space will not be affected by this change. Pages that are forced to use interstitials in response to a legal obligation, either for cookie usage or age verification, will also not be affected by this change.
If this algorithm change sounds familiar, it’s because Google previously had a signal that devalued pages with interstitials that prompt users to install a mobile app. After further development efforts, Google says it became clear that there was a need to target interstitials more generally.
Google reminds that this new signal is only one of the hundreds used to rank content. If Google determines that the main content of a page is highly relevant to what a searcher is looking for, pages with intrusive interstitials may still be served in search results.