What is the Effect of The Mobile Interstitial Penalty Rolled Out by Google?

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Several months ago, search engine giant Google announced an upcoming feature to the way mobile search engine optimization functions, insofar that websites would have to pay heed to their implementation of mobile interstitials as per Google, or else suffer the consequences of a penalty to their online search rankings.

Mobile interstitials have often been a simple and highly effective, if arguably irritating way to build traffic to a specific product or page, and even rake in sales. Typically, an interstitial takes the form of a large intrusive pop-up with a very small removal icon, sometimes giving the first-glance impression of being on another page, or interstitials that completely block the view of content for no good reason other than advertisement or other promotions.

Google made the decision that these interstitials are counterintuitive to a quality browsing experience, and have instituted rules regarding their usage. However, the crackdown isn’t as far-reaching as some might expect.

Exceptions to the Rule

The three broad types of interstitials that would be largely untouched “if used responsibly” (in a way that did not greatly hinder the browsing experience) include:

  • Interstitials that fulfill a legal requirement, such as an age verification.
  • Interstitials that use a reasonable amount of screen space (mostly unobtrusive) while being easily dismissible.

On top of that, interstitials found deeper within a website (on non-indexed pages, unavailable through Google’s results. As such, if a visitor finds a page not through Google but through the website itself, and is confronted with an interstitial, the use of that interstitial will not be penalized.

The Effects of the Penalty

Google began initiating the penalty as far back as November, but it wasn’t until January that it truly became an official part of Google’s mobile SEO algorithm.

Basically, Google would check through a signal for use of such interstitials on indexed pages, and would implement a penalty to your page’s potential in rankings, to help crack down on their usage.

While apparently the changes have not been immediate, it’s clear that this web design and marketing tactic will require the expertise of a penalty recovery and design expert to correct.

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