Google To Crack Down On Annoying Pop-Up Ads On Mobile Sites

There is a website I used to visit on a daily basis that has recently adopted pop-up ads and when they’re displayed on the mobile phone, it cripples my ability to view the main content. How I hate pop-up ads. Google seems to understand my consternation because it has just announced that websites with intrusive pop-up advertising will be demoted in its search engine rankings. Here’s what you need to know.

Online ads are part and parcel of surfing the web. We get it; websites need a way to make money, especially when they have full-time staff creating free content (that includes Lifehacker Australia, by the way). But some websites just take it too far. They throw pop-up ads at users, often with the smallest ‘close’ button that you can barely see on the webpages which makes you accidentally click on the ads. Then they will either bounce you to other sites you had no intention of visiting in the first place or, worse, download files that may be malicious in nature.

These annoying ads severely impact the user experience as they take over websites and most of the time you need to dismiss them before you can access the content you were looking for. Google agrees:

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials [pop-ups] provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

Then company has announced a move to address intrusive interstitials:

“To improve the mobile search experience, 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 [on Google’s search engine.”>

Some examples of interstitials that Google is trying to combat include:

  • Pop-ups that cover the main content that appear after the user navigates to a page from search results or while they are looking through a page.
  • Standalone interstitials that users have to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Web page layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Google did recognise that some websites are responsible in using popups and gave some basic guidelines on interstitials that won’t cause a website to be demoted in its search engine rankings. These will come in handy for website developers and page owners who want to stay on top of Google’s search engine:

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

You can read more about the changes over at the Google Webmasters blog.

[Via Google Webmasters blog]

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