Webmasters who make use of intrusive pop ups, which are known as interstitials, are set to be penalized from January 10, 2017 and onwards as part of a new clamp down.
The ranking algorithm penalty itself is not something completely new and it will serve as a direct replacement for the app interstitials ad penalty which was introduced in September last year in an attempt to deliver an improved user experience on mobile platforms.
However, although this previous penalty is being replaced, the overall effect should be exactly the same where interstitials are concerned.
This means that anyone who uses an app which provides targeted pop ups from an ad server while their main content is loading will should notice their site being significantly demoted in the search engine listings as a result.
As the algorithm update approaches, Google has informed us that not all interstitials will trigger a penalty and make a page rank lower.
In fact, they have provided the following list of examples which will have an adverse effect on search listing positions as they negatively affect mobile performance by making content more difficult to access:
By the same token, Google have also provided a list of interstitials which would not be affected by the new algorithm update:
To reflect these changes, the mobile usability report in Search Console has also been updated.
According to Google:
“App install interstitials will no longer trigger an error in the Mobile Usability report; therefore, you may see a drop in errors in this report. However, although no longer reported as an error, the presence of all types of intrusive interstitials are used as a ranking factor for pages in mobile search results.”
All in all, most webmasters have welcomed the changes although suffice to say there has been no mention of an official Google testing tool that will enable a user to check whether their interstitials will be deemed as acceptable or not when the new update is rolled out.