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Google: Interstitials are Fine Under this Condition

Google's John Mueller offered a nuanced explanation of how the negative ranking factor related to interstitials works

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller discussing the Interstitial penalty

Google’s John Mueller answered if Google considered mobile interstitials a negative page experience factor. Mueller acknowledged that nothing has changed. But he then suggested a way to show interstitials without any negative quality factor affecting the rankings.

Mobile Interstitials

A mobile interstitial ad is one that significantly covers a web page, keeping a user from seeing the content.

There are two kinds of interstitials, one that is overlayed over most of the web page and requires a click to close it.

The other kind of mobile interstitial is the kind that covers the entire web page.

Google Anti-Interstitial Negative Ranking Factor

In August 2016 Google announced that they were going to make mobile interstitials a negative ranking factor. The update to the algorithm occurred in January 2017.

Google specifically noted these kinds of advertising as subject to triggering a negative ranking factor:

  • “Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using 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.”

Has Google’s Stance on Interstitials Evolved?

The person asking the question noted that interstitials performed very well for them. But they were concerned about a negative ranking factor.

This is the question:

“In 2017 interstitials were a big non-no.

And even today monetizing with AdSense Vignettes is capped to showing only once per hour.

However for our use case, again interstitials are far better solutions than banner ads because banner ads take precious screen space. Interstitial ads is very common in mobile apps.

Is there any change to Google’s stance on interstitials?

Will it affect our rank if we do use interstitial ads on our mobile website?”

Google’s 2021 Opinion on Mobile Interstitials

John Mueller stated that Google’s position has not changed or evolved in any way.

John Mueller’s answer:

“There’s not really a change in our stance when it comes to interstitials in that intrusive interstitials is still something that we would use for as a ranking factor.

It’s a part of the page experience and elements as well.”

Google-approved Interstitials

Mueller next described a way to show interstitials so that they will not trigger a negative ranking factor from Google.


“However, this is essentially focused on that moment when a user comes to your website.

So if you’re using interstitials as something in between …the normal flow of when a user goes to your website, then from our point of view that’s less of an issue.

But really, if someone comes to your website and the first thing that they see is this big interstitial and they can’t actually find the content that they were essentially promised in search then from that point of view that looks bad.

But if people can go to your website, they can do something on there, they can start to play a game, and kind of like at the start of the next level you show an interstitial ad then from our point of view, that’s perfectly fine.

That’s essentially something between you and the user and finding that balance of how many ads you show or how you present those ads during the …session on the site, that’s essentially something up to you.

So from that point of view, probably this is less of an issue to focus on.

I don’t know your specific website, I don’t know how it is when users go to it.

But that’s something where probably I would guess it’s okay.”

User Experience: First Thing Visitors See

Google’s position on mobile interstitials is that users should be able to see and interact with the content when they reach the web page from a search result.

When Google sends a user to a web page they expect users to find the content they are looking for and not be kept from it by an interstitial.

But according to John Mueller, as long as the interstitial is not the first thing a user sees then that should be fine.


Google’s Interstitial Penalty Announcement

Helping Users Easily Access Content on Mobile

How to Use Interstitials Without Affecting Rankings

Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 35 minute mark:

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Roger Montti Owner - at

I have 25 years hands-on experience in SEO and have kept on  top of the evolution of search every step ...

Google: Interstitials are Fine Under this Condition

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