Google has announced that it will begin cracking down on “intrusive interstitials” on January 10, 2017, because this type of ad “can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”
This is specific to mobile devices and further reinforces Google’s emphasis on the mobile search experience saying that “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” This is a good thing, it improves the mobile search experience for all users.
The types of interstitials that are going to be problematic, include:
- Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing 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 has been inlined underneath the fold.
Three types that “would NOT be affected” if “used responsibly” are:
- Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
What does this mean for you? If your site makes use of popups on mobile devices, you’ll need to evaluate them and determine what needs to happen on a case by case basis. You should be able to disable them for mobile devices while leaving them intact for desktop.