Google came up with mobile-friendly update 2 years ago, which helped its users to find pages where the text and content were readable without zooming and the tap targets were appropriately spaced. Google search goal is to provide best answers for any users query and a mobile interstitial penalty is one more step towards achieving that goal.
Google in August 2016 made this announcement that it will start marking down pages with intrusive pop-ups, also called interstitial. This change came into effect on 10 January 2017.
What is Mobile Interstitial Penalty?
Nowadays a lot of sites shows intrusive interstitial to users. As a result of this, the user is not able to reach the content of the website easily. The content present on the page available to be indexed by the Google is visually blocked by interstitial.
This can be more problematic with mobile devices as the screen is very small. So from 10th January 2017 websites that use pop-ups and interstitial, covering more than what is a reasonable portion of the screen will be ranked poorly. Google’s not-at- all-defined, “reasonable amount of screen space”. However, “hundreds of signals” go into Google’s search result rankings and not every website will feel pressured to remove these interstitial. If a site with a pop-up still has the best information, it’s still likely to appear first in search results.
What Counts As Intrusive Interstitial?
Google earlier in august 2016 in a blog post gave examples of interstitial that will be considered ‘intrusive’. This comprises of:-
Pop-ups that cover the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they going through the page.
A standalone interstitial that user has to decline in order to reach 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 gets hidden underneath the fold.
Google in its blog post also gave examples of interstitial that won’t be affected. These include pop-ups for logging in, legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification. Interstitial that covers a reasonable amount of screen space and is easily dismissible will also remain unaffected.
The reaction to this update has been mixed. Site owners will require a period of time to get adjusted to these new changes. In the long-term this update could lead to user spending more time on site, more page views per visit, and a lower bounce rate. There are both positive and negative aspects to this update.