Intrusive Interstitials in mobile design to be frowned upon by Google

Google Now Rolling Out Penalties for Intrusive Interstitials on Mobile

Both John Mueller and Gary Illyes have recently confirmed that Google has just started rolling out a brand new penalty system for webmasters using intrusive interstitials on mobile websites.  The official launch date for this penalty was January 10, 2017 (just 3 days ago), with Gary Illyes announcing the roll-out on Tuesday, followed by John Mueller’s confirmation the very next day.

Which Sites Will Be Affected?

So far, the only websites that will be affected by the new penalty will be those accessed via Google’s mobile search engine, which are guilty of displaying offending interstitial components as set out in Google’s guideliness.  Sites accessed through desktop search will not be affected by the new ranking signal – at least, not for the time being.

Examples of Mobile Interstitials that will be Penalized

If you are unsure whether or not your interstitials will be punished by the new algorithm update, here are a few examples of the kind of thing that Google is looking to clamp down on.

  • Standalone pop-ups / interstitials that cover the main content of a website, which need to be dismissed before the maint content is displayed.
  • Interstitials that obstruct the main page content as soon as a user arrives at a page from the mobile search results, or large mobile pop-ups that appear whilst a user is reading a page.
  • Sites that use a layout where the top half of the page appears identical to a standalone interstitial, with the original content appearing inlined beneath the popup.

Acceptable Use of Pop-Ups / Interstitials

With this in mind, it is important to remember that some pop-ups and interstitials will not be punished by the new update.  These include legally required interstitials such as age verification pop-ups and cookie consent forms.

Interstitials which are only displayed when a user leaves a website are also acceptable.

Although the changes are now officially live, John Mueller has said that the effects may take a number of days to propagate across Google’s many servers.