Are You Compliant?
Firstly what is “Interstitial”, this is an advertisement that appears while a chosen website or page is downloading.
This post will give you a complete outline on what you can and cant do when it comes to avoiding the Mobile interstitial Penalty. The quickest way to ensure you are compliant is to grab your mobile device right now and bring up your website. If you are seeing advertisements before any site content you may be at risk of free falling down Google’s search index.
Google confirms new mobile interstitial penalty is now live
Google has confirmed that its new mobile interstitial penalty is now live. The penalty targets intrusive mobile interstitials, meaning sites that use that type of advert within the mobile versions of their site could see themselves tumbling down the search results pages.
Google first indicated its intention to tackle the problem six months ago, meaning webmasters had quite a lengthy heads-up before the sanctions were rolled out last week.
The new interstitial penalty specifically targets those sites that make the transition from the mobile search results to the desired page problematic for users in one of three ways:
Image and article source: https://www.wordtracker.com/blog/google-confirms-new-mobile-interstitial-penalty-is-now-live
If your site is mobile responsive and you have any advertisements including pop-ups for newsletter subscriptions on your site that blocks the content you may find this to be problematic with the Interstitial Mobile Penalty.
The problem with these types of ads on a mobile device is that they can not be easily closed and that causes a poor user experience for site visitors which is not what Google wants and nether should you as an online business owner looking to build a client base.
Google has given all website owners ample time to comply releasing information about this back in August 2016. If you have not made changes and are heavily advertising on your mobile site then you may start to see a decline in rankings.
So What Types Of Interstitial Would Be Acceptable?
Firstly lets say everything needs to be in moderation do not go over the top. Here are three forms of advertisements that will not be affected by the new signal algorithm currently, again I must place emphasis on the fact that you do not over use these.
From the above image you can see that you may have a accept form for cookies another if you require age verification and even a banner that is relevant to the page content which only uses a minimal amount of space without obscuring the content the visitor was searching for. From what I can see regardless of the advertisement being used they must all be easily dismissable by the user or you could risk a penalty.
Note: Diagrams Above Are From Google To Show Levels Of Acceptable Use.
How To Avoid A Mobile Interstitial Penalty
What Google Has To Say
The best place to get any and all advice is of course Google and this is what they had to say…
“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
What Does This Mean? You need to ensure your content can be viewed as soon as the visitor lands on your page from the search results.
Make Sure Any Pop-Ups Serve A Purpose
If you have spent any time at all surfing the net using a mobile device then you would have first hand knowledge of how annoying navigating pop-ups can be.
“The easiest way to avoid the mobile interstitial and pop-up penalty is to think like Google, whose main objective is to make the internet more accessible, browser friendly, intuitive and honest, especially for mobile browsers. This means there are some exceptions to Google’s pop-up policy: If yours serves a real, honest purpose, chances are you’ll be okay.” This is a quote from Ben Silverman at Brafton Marketing
My Thoughts: Some pop-ups are still OK, such as those required by law such as accepting cookies or age verification or if they are relevant to the site content and do not interfere with the page content and how it is viewed.
Content That Gets Hidden
Something I have never liked whether it is we or mobile is how websites use an overlay that covers the whole page of content.
“For the most part, Google is targeting overlays that gray out the content beneath them to prevent you from reading a website, either for a few seconds or until you find and very carefully tap a little X to dismiss them.” This is advice shared by The Verge
My Thoughts: No longer acceptable are pages that load and then the whole screen is covered from view by being greyed out or completely covered with some form of advertisement. This includes when you scroll or timed that then activates and covers the content. On the Mobile Internet it’s not acceptable to stop a user from reading the content on any page of a site. You can still get away with this on on Web Search but for me it is something i believe all web site owners need to consider changing.
Adopt More Effective Strategies
It’s all about user experience and yes, removing your ads may be a little painful to start with but you may also find you end up with a more loyal and responsive customer base.
“…if they haven’t done so already, marketers solve for mobile SEO first. The pain that comes with changing a revenue model is inevitable, but shorter-term – and businesses that rely on advertiser dollars, should figure out ways to make money that don’t totally disrupt the mobile user experience.” Senior Product Marketing Manager, Marcus Andrews from HubSpot shared the above advice.
My Thoughts: Losing organic search traffic from the mobile index is going to be much more painful than having to remove revenue generating ads from any mobile version of your site. Basically Google is telling you to look for and implement more intuitive ways to generate income from your site.
Use More Effective Content Marketing Strategies
It’s now all about User Experience and Engagement have both and you will see success not only in the search listing but in generating revenue.
“The consistent creation and distribution of relevant content attracts users without beating them with a hard-sell stick. Use content—including blog posts, round-ups, guides, videos, infographics, and more—to educate audiences and guide them through the buying process.” This advice was from Google’s Interstitial Ad Penalty and Its Effect on Mobile Marketers on Sitepoint.
My Thoughts: It’s all about making content easily accessible to the end user, again it’s all about User Experience and Engagement. Provide better content with out the traps and you will see a much better following of your products and services. Building trust though the site content is now more important than ever before.
Important Facts: With Google’s mobile-first indexing of the Web and 60% of searches coming from smartphones, an error-free mobile site is a must. You will need to comply to survive online.
Lastly: make sure any site you own is mobile friendly by taking a simple test online provided by Google. Is Your Web page Mobile Friendly? Now you have got that sorted there is one more step I suggest you take and that is testing the speed of the site using GTMetrix. GTMetrix doesn’t only analyses the speed of your site it will also give you detailed instructions on what you need to do to make improvements on speed.
More Online Resources Worth Investigating
- Winter is Coming for the Digital Advertising Industry – The recent announcement by Google that it will soon “permanently retire” interstitial advertising was met with glee and giddy laughter by many Internet users.
- Helping Users Easily Access Content On Mobile – January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high. As we said, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking and 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.
- Mobile Devices Now Driving 56 Percent Of Traffic – The report is based on the company’s analysis of the top 10,000 US websites in 24 categories. It does not include app usage. The following are the top 10 mobile traffic site categories, with the top five are receiving at least 60 percent of their traffic from mobile devices.
- Data Show Users Hate App-Promotion Interstitials – Almost 70 percent who encountered one abandoned the visit completely. Very often smartphone users click a link to a mobile Web page and are confronted by a interstitial promotion asking them to download the publisher’s app.
- 10 Ways to Get Ready for Google’s Mobile Interstitial Penalty on January 10th – Google announced back in August 2016 that it will begin to devalue web pages in mobile search with intrusive interstitials as of January 10, 2017. Going forward, Google recommends using interstitials on mobile pages that only take up a “reasonable” amount of screen space.