September 10, 2015

In order to take users’ search experience to yet another level, Google recently announced a major change that it is going to implement in mobile search results. It stated that the mobile websites which use pop-up ads to prompt the users to download apps will be penalized in the form of lower rankings. The latest move by the company can prove to be a major setback for the advertizers, app developers and web publishers.

According to the post published on Google Webmaster Central Blog, “After November 1, mobile websites having an app interstitial that hides majority of the web page content will no longer be considered mobile friendly.” Adding further, it specified, “Our analysis shows that it can be frustrating for the users when the content that they expect to see on a web page is blocked by an undesired interstitial.” The update has been released following the company’s internal survey that showed 69 percent of the people abandoned a website after being encountered with such pop-ups while only 9 percent actually downloaded the app.

As a replication to this announcement, Google has also updated its mobile friendly test to warn sites that have large app download interstitials during users’ transition from search pages. The mobile usability report in search console will display the number of web pages where the issue has been found. Google also stated that it will penalize only those interstitials that cover a significant amount of relevant content on any web page. Also, the company has advised websites to present app download interstitials in a more user friendly manner. Instead of using the obstructive pop-ups, smaller and less intrusive banners can be placed at the top of a web page. It will provide a more convenient way of promoting an app while allowing the users to manage their browsing experience.

Google has always strived to provide quality and relevant search results to the ever increasing number of mobile users. Once the new update is live and you still have large pop-ups on your website, you are bound to witness a considerable drop in your mobile search rankings. In order to avoid being penalized, you should make sure you do not prompt your visitors to download your app. You should keep user experience as your top priority while designing your website in order to increase traffic and reduce bounce rate.