Google is no stranger to change. Usually, they’re made for the sake of the user, with usability at the heart of every modification.

Last week, the company announced its latest change: penalising mobile pages that feature intrusive interstitials.

Google explained the algorithmic change in a blog post:

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. 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.”

How do you know if your interstitials are going to cause your mobile pages to rank lower? Google said if the interstitial “makes content less accessible to a user.”

So, if you currently run full-page ads for app installations on your mobile pages, you’re going to want to pull them fairly quickly.

Pop-ups that cover key content will come under fire, but dismissible installation ads, login forms and cookie banners are expected to pass the accessibility test.

Remember, this is just one of hundreds of signals that Google uses to ranking web pages. Intent is still the strongest signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.


If this latest change is stressing you out, don’t panic. These changes provide a great opportunity to use inbound marketing to enhance your presence on mobile, or otherwise, and aid mobile accessibility for your site.

We’re still quite a way off from January 2017, but here’s what you can do to get ready in the meantime:

  • Ditch interstitials, unless they’re required by law. Small ads, age verification displays and cookie pop-ups are fine – remove anything else.
  • If you rely on interstitials for ad revenue, figure out where that money is going to come from now.
  • Find ways to generate revenue without obstructing the user experience, and in a way that keeps your mobile pages accessible to all.
  • Understand that solutions often exist in the content you create. Draft something valuable for the user.

If you need help with the finer details, connect with us and we’ll help you prepare for the change.

We are Connect – the original web development agency. We have been providing best-in-class design, development and data services to public and private sector clients since 1994.

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