Google Search will penalize sites that use interstitial ads next year

Advertisements on the internet can range in annoyance, with intrusive interstitial ads that pop-up over text being among the most frustrating. Google is gearing up to take a harder line against sites that show these kinds of ads early next year, and it's doing so as a way of making content easier to access on mobile.

While those pop-up interstitial ads are frustrating no matter where you encounter them, they can be downright demonic on mobile, as tapping the little red X to dismiss the ad can become rage-inducing exercise on a smaller screen. Starting on January 10, 2017, Google Search will begin to penalize sites that employ these ads and make accessing content from search results more difficult to mobile users.

However, not all interstitial pop-ups are created equally, and Google seems to recognize this. Instead of showing ads, interstitials can be used to inform incoming users of a site's cookie policy or show an age gate to add another layer between users and adult content. Google says it won't penalize sites that use these types of interstitials, nor will it punish sites that employ banner ads that only take up a "reasonable" portion of the screen on mobile.

With that in mind, if a site uses a pop that appears at the beginning of an article or after the user has scrolled a certain length down the page, hiding the text underneath, Google considers that a no-no and may begin penalizing the offending sites in search results. It's important to keep in mind that consideration for interstitial ads is just one signal Google uses to determine the search ranking of a page, so using these ads isn't a guarantee that search ranking will plummet.

Google also took this opportunity to announce that it will be removing the "mobile-friendly" tag from search results. The tag was rolled out two years ago in an effort to let searchers know when a site offered a page that was easily readable on mobile, but since it has recently found that 85% of sites now qualify for the "mobile-friendly" label, it will be removing it in order to keep search results free of clutter.

So, there are significant changes coming to Google Search. We'll see if this has any noticeable effect on the number of interstitial and pop up ads, but regardless of the results, it's nice to see Google focusing on them. Stay tuned.

SOURCE: Google Webmaster Central