Google is keeping up with their efforts in making search more efficient by valuing pages that offer more content. This is part of their campaign to help users find the best answers to their questions with whatever device that they are using. On the other hand, this also means that they have to devalue pages that have what we call “interstitial”.
The original Google announcement was made last year, August 23, 2016. During the announcement, Google also announced what they consider to be interstitial ads.
Remembering the original announcement from last year
Basically, anything that prevents the main content of a page to be read because the ad covers the entire screen is an interstitial. Understandably, anyone landing on a page like that will feel frustrated because they can’t immediately see the content that they want to see.
However, pages with banners or the like that only use a “reasonable” size of screen space won’t be affected by these changes. Also worth noting is that pages that are legally obliged to have pop-ups such as age verification of usage of cookies will not be affected by these cahnges.
This isn’t the first time Google is doing something like this. Last year, Google devalued pages that had interstitial that forced users to install mobile apps. Doing this for a couple of months made Google realize that there was a need to enforce this for interstitial pop-ups on a more general scale.
If you’re using pop-ups, you might want to use Google’s “example of techniques” when used responsibly, would not be affected by Google’s new changes.
Another thing worth noting is that this new signal just one of the many hundreds of signals that are actively used in ranking. Google warns that the intent of the search query is still a very strong factor so a page may still rank highly as long as it has quality, relevant content.
Truth be told, I’m not aware of any changes made to this directive from August 23, 2016 to January 10, 2017 but when I checked Google’s blog, it seems nothing has changed. Take this with a grain of salt, however, as the new changes have only just taken effect; this is true if we take their earlier announcement into consideration.
Why these changes?
Last year, Google was trailblazing the path to a better search experience for Mobile-users. It makes sense that they’re doing everything that they can to make the user-experience better, faster and more convenient especially for those mobile uses.
Google is aware that many of the pages on the internet can already be read without the need to zoom in or to enlarge the content. However, there were many recorded instances of intrusive interstitial pop-ups that negatively affected the user-experience. Of course, the content is still available for perusal on the page but they are still visually obscured or partially hidden by the interstitial, which is something that Google does not want.
This is Google’s primary source of concern because it tilts the user-experience towards a more negative feel – and Google is all about making the user-experience better.
Not all pop-ups are bad because some of them are important especially if you want to abide by the law. Some countries or states require the user to acknowledge a pop-up that tells them about a certain cookie’s behavior while other websites are required to have a pop-up for age verification. Pop-ups are okay but at the end of the day, it’s all about how and why they are used.
You can still have pop-ups on your website as long as they are not intrusive, specifically speaking they shouldn’t obscure the content.
I think it’s fascinating that we’re seeing changes from last year take effect to this year, specifically today’s changes for interstitials.
Do you have any experience with annoying pop-ups? Do you have any pop-ups that you want to talk about? What are your plans for the changes to interstitial ads? Let me know in the comments below!