If you are one of the billion people using Google to search the web, you'll probably be thrilled to hear of their latest announcement. Starting January 10th, 2017, we can say good riddance to those annoying pop-up ads that block us from trying to reach the content of a website. The search giant will begin enforcing what will essentially be an "algorithmic penalty" for the use of "intrusive interstitial ads" in an effort to improve the mobile search experience Google provides to its users.
"So what exactly is an 'interstitial ad?'"
An interstitial ad is one that intervenes with or makes the content of a page unreadable. According to Google Webmasters, “This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result ...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.” Therefore, if this new signal recognizes an interstitial ad, it will have a direct effect on the webpage’s ability to rank well in search engine results pages.
"Am I using interstitial ads on my website?"
The Google Webmaster Blog provides a nice list with examples of interstitial ads that make content less accessible. We encourage anyone using any kind of interstitial to review that list and compare it with any pop-up ads in use on your website. While not all interstitial ads will be affected by the new signal, you should familiarize yourself with the acceptable and unacceptable use cases to ensure you maintain your position in search.
Remember, keep things in perspective!
As always, it's important to remember that this new signal is just one of over 200 factors Google uses to determine rankings, so while it's encouraged that you do your best to follow Google's best practices and provide a positive experience for your users, don't make an irrational decision. Plan ahead and put some thought into new ways you can accomplish your goals that don't involve these interstitial ads. After you have come up with a new strategy, then transition your campaigns to a more acceptable format.
Google changes its ranking algorithm all the time! Need help you keeping up? Our SEO Team will help you stay ahead of the mayhem!