In Google’s attempt to improve search results for mobile users, the company announced that “intrusive interstitials” may not rank as highly starting January 10, 2017. As Google phrases it in their announcement:
“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.”
The cloud tech giant also notes that this situation is even more worrisome for the mobile users with smaller screens, because some ads will do more than frustrate and annoy users – they will drastically decrease the user’s experience from the website.
This may come as good news for some users, but can be devastating for marketers, who rely on popups to bring in leads and prospects.
But not all is bad. What some websites called “a war against mobile popups” can also be a good opportunity for great marketers. As a matter of fact, a lot of good can come out of this situation. If we play it right, we will not only increase the chances of users not being annoyed by our well-planned advertisement, we will also enjoy higher ranking on Google’s search.
So what NOT to do?
Here are the guidelines under which content is considered as being less accessible to the user, according to Google:
1. 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.
2. Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
3. 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.
Examples of interstitials that make content less accessible:
And here are some acceptable popup techniques:
1. Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Examples of interstitials that would not be affected by the new signal, if used responsibly:
As for comforting closing words, Google wants you to know that “this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.” But all we have to remember is that as long as we play it right, we will only rise above even our own expectations.