Blog

We are passionate about the work we do, which is why we regularly research and update our blog with original content to keep you updated with industry news.

Google Set to Penalise Websites with Intrusive Interstitials

Date Wednesday, 24 August 2016 , By: Dave Davies , In: Digital Marketing

Google Set to Penalise Websites with Intrusive Interstitials

In a bid to further enhance mobile search experience, Google have announced that from 10th January 2017, they will begin to crack down on websites that use intrusive interstitials. The penalty being lower rankings of the site’s pages within search results.

A New “Mobile-Friendly” Ranking Signal

Two years ago, Google introduced a mobile-friendly label to its mobile search results, helping users to identify pages with content that’s suitable for reading on a mobile device. Since then, they have found that 85% of web pages within mobile search results meet the mobile-friendly criteria.

To keep search results from becoming too cluttered, Google are removing the label, but the mobile-friendly criteria will still remain a ranking signal. With the latest announcement of penalties for intrusive interstitials, there will be another factor to consider as part of the mobile-friendly ranking signals.

Although most web pages are meeting the current mobile-friendly criteria, Google have been seeing many examples of pages where intrusive interstitials obscure the content of the page, and subsequently effect user experience.

Pages that use intrusive interstitials offer a poor experience to users compared to web pages where content is immediately accessible. Google view these adverts as problematic for users on mobile devices, where screen sizes are a lot smaller than desktop computers. The ads can impede on the user being able to easily access the content of the page.


What are Intrusive Interstitials?

Examples of interstitials that could be in line to receive the penalty would include:

  • Showing a popup on the site that covers the main content of the page
  • Displaying an interstitial that has to be dismissed before the page content can be accessed
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold appears to be a standalone interstitial, but the content has been inlined underneath the fold.
Bad Examples of Intrusive Interstitials

Will there be Exceptions to the Rule?

There will be exceptions to the rule if interstitials are used responsibly, for example:

  • Interstitials used for legal obligation such as cookies or age verification
  • Login dialogs where the content is not publicly indexable, such as email or private content behind a paywall
  • Banners that only use a small portion of screen space and are easily dismissible.
Examples of Responsible Interstitials

To further improve the mobile search experience, this new ranking signal will start to roll out after January 10th 2017. If your website currently makes use of interstitials that could affect your rankings in future, then it is important to start preparing for the new signal.


Update - 11th January 2017

Google have officially confirmed that the mobile intrusive interstitials penalty begun rolling out yesterday (10th January) as promised nealry 6 months ago.

The penalty will only affect intrusive interstitials that occur directly after clicking from a mobile search result and moving to a specific page. It doesn't impact pages after this click.

Dave Davies

By: Dave Davies

Dave has been with us since 2012 and brings years of experience as a talented graphic designer as well as an innate understanding of usability and web layout. Since joining us Dave has been developing his digital marketing and SEO knowledge, effectively combining his natural talent and experience with this new discipline. Having a strong understanding of what clients wish to achieve in both marketing performance and usability for websites, Dave is great at both communication and application alike.