If you hate pop-up ads and interstitials (full page ads that pop-up before a web page) while browsing the web on your phone, it is a good time to be alive! Google is finally doing something to help prevent this intrusive and annoying trend and will be showing you a lot less of them in the near future.
Thanks to new regulations, any mobile web page that uses interstitials or pop-up ads will see their Google ranking tumble. Originally announced back in August 2016, Google confirmed that the new algorithm update has officially gone live as of January 10.
Google is targeting “problematic transitions,” and has given three specific examples of pages that would be affected.
- Pages that show a pop-up ad that opens right after a user clicks a link or as they scroll through a page, hiding page content.
- Pages that show an interstitial ad that must be closed out before the user gets to their desired content and,
- pages that keep content “under the fold” with an interstitial on the top of the page.
Google has also noted that “small” pop-up ads won’t be affected by these rules, but they didn’t give any details about what specific size constitutes “small.”
Therefore, if web pages purposefully hide content behind ads or force interaction with an ad, Google doesn’t like it. For now, these changes only apply to mobile versions of websites, so desktop pages are safe.
Interestingly, the new rule applies only to the first click on a page from Google. Once you’re on a website, there are no penalties if you encounter the ads following another link. Also, Google will not penalise web pages rankings that use legally required interstitials, like those needed to verify age.
A segment of Google’s statement:
“Although the majority of pages now have text and content on the page that is readable without zooming, we’ve recently seen many examples where these pages show intrusive interstitials to users. While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result.”
Google have given a significant warning period for people to adjust their websites and there has therefore been no significant impact as of yet. Some online users have noted that this may also be because there are a number of different ways to program interstitials, and it’s just taking Google time to get around to combatting all the different versions.
Commercial websites need ads to operate, but forced interactions can be a pretty frustrating user experience, so it’s fantastic to see Google take a strong stance here.