Google has announced that it will begin penalising websites which hide content behind pop-up interstitials exhorting users to install mobile apps, beginning this November.
For years, the mobile web was a terrible place. The weak processors, limited memory, low-resolution displays, and poor browsers of feature phones led to an awkward user experience. More control could be had by offering users a site-specific application instead, and while today's smartphones do a much better job of rendering full-fat web pages the popularity of dedicated apps continues.
Sites that push users towards installing apps by popping up a full-screen advert, though, are going to find themselves dropping down Google's search rankings. According to an announcement
made by the company this week, sites that hide the majority of their site behind a pop-up interstitial advertising a mobile app when smartphone visitors arrive from search engines will be penalised. 'After November 1,
' Google's Daniel Bathgate explaind, 'mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.
This reclassification will directly translate to a drop in search rankings, following a modification to Google's ranking algorithm which prioritises sites the advertising giant certifies as mobile-friendly. Google is not, however, banning pop-up interstitials, even ones which cover the majority of the page content: only those advertising applications, rather than, say, generic Viagra, will have their hosting site demoted.
Google's suggested alternative for app interstitials is app banners, natively supported by Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android.