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Google Bans Interstitials for Improved Mobile User Experience

Google recently announced that it will penalize those mobile websites which will display pop-up messages to distract users. Mobile users are happy about the announcement while marketing people are panicked regarding the ban on interstitials. Google started this penalty from January onwards frowning on “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results.” This penalty is only applicable for mobiles and companies’ whose pop-ups appear as banner on the top of a mobile website. The penalty does not apply to small banners like the ones containing passwords or legal information. It applies to:

  • Interstitials covering up the entire content on the website

  • Interstitials that must be closed prior to accessing the content

  • Penalty is also levied for those websites where the content appears below the message

The crux of the matter is that pop-ups appears to be a big problem in smaller devices due to its screen space.

Lessons from Previous Interstitial Updates

Google began targeting since November 2015. Google answered the queries from various digital marketers stating that their decision was based on a study on less intrusive user engagement. However, this was criticized based on narrow research factors. Moreover, intrusive interstitials works sometimes. Another article pointed out that interstitials increased app downloads by 100% and 300% for various websites. However, Google moved ahead stating that they are putting the user’s interest first. This was the precursor to the latest update that penalizes all interstitials.

The Impact of Mobile Interstitials Update

Search marketers assume the worst when they hear of penalty. However, the impact on these sites vary greatly. In such a circumstance, the marketers receive a notice of violation from Google through the Search Console. Here they are required to submit a reconsideration request. However, the good news is that, the penalty is not so severe. The penalty does not appear to be a serious on in terms of penalty, but it is more in terms of algorithmic updates.

The worst impact could be a potential drop in search engine ranks. However, a research shows that, this is not always the case. Research was done on some 70 websites and they did not show any major dip in rankings. So, the panic of digital marketers regarding constricted search engine optimization does not get greatly affected by the fact. In the same breath, popunder ads were being mentioned. Experts say, popunder ads will not be affected by this update. The update is more about preventing users from inhibited use of websites through interstitials. However, marketers should keep monitoring ranks so that they can find out about the long-term impact.

Penalty Preps for Mobile Interstitials

Many of the marketers had prepared for the unknown amount of impact due to the update. They are wise. However, for the ones who did not prepare, here are the advices:

  • Ensure readily available content

  • Ensure that the pop-ups serve a purpose

  • Ensure that ads are gone while readers scroll the page

  • Consider the advantages of organic ranking above short-term benefit

  • Develop a less intrusive strategy for leads

  • Do not misinterpret the elimination of mobile-friendly label

  • Improve desktop interstitials while they are allowed

  • Allow mobile interstitials even when readers have left the website

  • Mobile interstitials can be displayed between website pages

How to Recover?

There is a backup plan for recovering from the loss many website owners have incurred. Here are some points to help you recover.

  1. Make changes to the website and explain it to your team the reason for doing it. Understand Google’s policies before doing it.

  2. Replace it with a less intrusive version or place interstitials in between pages

  3. Do not treat rank drop as a penalty

  4. File a reconsideration request to Google with all supporting details. You do not have anything to lose.

  5. Take your case to Webmaster Forum as the last resort.

The single intention behind all these is to provide the user with a better surfing experience and also quicker app downloads. Google’s stance on interstitials is part of their fundamental mission to create the best possible user experience. It is even more important in terms of mobile.



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