Google Lowers Rankings for Advertisers Using Interstitial Ads
According to a post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, on November 1, 2015, Google has announced that it will give sites lower rankings that use interstitial ads to promote download of a mobile app by hiding site content. While these ads are typically designed to build the mobile app subscriber base of the sites that use them, Google says that this does not provide a good search experience for users.
Webmasters have until November 1, 2015, to make the changes before they start to see changes in their rankings as a result of the update.
Check Your Site With the Mobile-Friendly Test
When Google rolled out its Mobile Update a few months ago, it introduced a new tool known as the Mobile-Friendly Test. This tool was designed to notify webmasters of whether their sites are user-friendly. This was designed to encourage webmasters to redesign their websites with responsive design.
With this latest update, the Mobile-Friendly Test will now prompt webmasters to change their websites for sites that show app install interstitials which hide a significant amount of content. These app install interstitials will no longer be considered as mobile-friendly content.
App Install Banners
To replace these giant ads, Google is recommending that webmasters use browsers to promote their apps as a more user-friendly option for providing content. App install banners are currently supported by Safari and Chrome. On Safari, these banners are known as Smart Banners. On Chrome, they are known as Native App Install Banners.
Webmasters Can Still Use App Banners
This change does not mean that all app banners are considered not to be mobile-friendly. In fact, Google also says that webmasters are still free to use their own implementations of app banners. However, in order for these custom app banners to be considered as mobile-friendly, they must not take up a large portion of the screen. They must also not block visitors from viewing the content on the page in favor of downloading the app.
Other Interstitials Are Not Affected By This Change
The change also won’t impact websites that use interstitials to support other types of content that are not mobile app downloads. These interstitials will still be considered as mobile-friendly. With the update, just months away now is a good time to update your website if you are concerned about losing rankings due to this change.
As the number of mobile search users continues to increase, Google will likely continue to make more changes that affect site design for mobile sites. As a result, you should always make sure that you keep up with the latest recommendations from Google via the Webmaster Central Blog.