Google to Penalize Sites That Prompt You to Download Their App

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Google has come out fighting against app download interstitials — those prompts you get from some websites that want you to download their mobile app.

Today the search giant announced that, as of November 1st, sites with intrusive app download interstitials will be penalized:

“After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.”

Not being considered mobile-friendly will significantly impact organic traffic, as it’s known that Google aims to return only mobile-friendly sites in mobile search.

Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool has been updated to reflect today’s announcement. As well, the Mobile Usability report in Search Console will warn you if it detects large app download interstitials.

Rather than using app download interstitials, Google reminds that browsers promote apps in ways that are more user-friendly.

In late July, Google published a post on its blog asking people to reconsider using app download interstitials. When I initially reported on it I suggested Google may eventually turn app interstitials into some form of penalty. Now that appears to be what’s happening.

History shows when Google issues a recommendation it’s wise to listen, because usually an algorithm update is soon to follow. In line with this trend is today’s news, so take Google’s advice and “reconsider” app download interstitials if you happen to be using them.

Editorial Credit: Shutterstock

Matt Southern

Matt Southern

Lead News Writer
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides.
Matt Southern
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  • Rajnish

    So, it is going to harm many websites. As I see almost every website shows the interstitial banner to download the app.

  • Jaspreet

    This seems to be quite a contradictory feature. What if the user have the app installed on their device. Where will deep linking come in picture?

  • Steve Kaplan

    Good call on predicting the penalty Matt. Thanks for putting this out there. Clients need to be aware of this news to prevent the penalty.

  • Sue Bride

    I wonder if this will follow through to sites that have full page ads, calls to action, or even images that have a lot of text? These are now more common.

  • Gregory

    Well, this is quite logical from Google’s point of view. Dedicated mobile apps are “stealing” their users. They just want every one to start with the search engine, than move to a webpage.

  • Sunday

    Well, I must say this is somewhat timely because accessing many websites on mobile platforms often leads to ‘forced’ download of apps. Its often annoying!

    The abuse of the mobile-friendly adaptation must have lead Google to consider penalizing sites with app download interstitials. I am in support of the move as it will help for better online experience!
    This comment was left in as well.