Google Interstitial Penalty
If you’re on this blog post, it’s because you heard about this penalty and aren’t sure if it impacts you. My goal today is to educate you on why Google made it, and whether it’ll impact you or not. As of January 10th, Google unleashed this penalty. As of Jan 23, 2017 – it’s been live for almost 13 days, and we’re probably going to start seeing the results. As with most Google penalties/adjustments, Google has to crawl your website post-launch, for the impact to occur.
Why was it made
Most traffic on the web is mobile; that shouldn’t be revelation. Unfortunately, the mobile user experience is not uniform from one website to the next. In specific, many websites like Yelp interrupted the mobile search experience with annoying advertisements on it’s mobile web pages. People would click from Google to a website, and see a big annoying popup. Google’s algorithm update lowers the rankings of these web pages until the annoying popup is gone. If the popup interferes with the UX and prevents content from being easily accessible, then it won’t rank as well.
Cases where interstitials are a problem
- When a popup covers the main content on a website immediately after the user gets to it from Google.
- User gets to a web page from Google, starts scrolling a huge popup appears
- A popup appears which has to be dismissed before user gets to see content
Here’s a diagram Google made to help illustrate the cases:
Cases where interstitials are fine
Google has acknowledged there are some valid cases, where such as a popup is necessary. Here are the situations where its OK to do it.
- The popup is a legal obligation, such as mentioning cookie usage, or age verification
- It is a login popup to access content that isn’t publicly visible.
- Banners which use reasonable amount of space, and are easy to dismiss.
How to remove the penalty
If you have a legitimate use – then keep your popup running. Because of the roll out of the penalty – you should know fairly quickly if your usage of the popup is harming your rankings. If your website’s rankings are harmed – you need to remove the popup and wait for Google to recrawl your website. Because the algorithm works on a page by page basis – if you wait for Google to crawl the page (with the popup removed) – you’ll be able to get the penalty lifted.
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