Google loves making changes. It is constantly updating and re-inventing its services. The newest change? How their algorithm pulls the precise content you want from your search. When you do a search for almost anything, you get the result you’re looking for within the first 10 results Google retrieves.  The last major change Google made was giving result-boosts to company websites that were mobile friendly (or, to put it differently, discredited sites that were only optimized for desktop views).  Through that change, Google set a new precedent and now 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and show the mobile-friendly label.  Starting on January 10th, 2017, Google released another new rule that effects companies who rely on advertising money for a bulk of their revenue or trying to expand their email list.

Interstitial Pop Ups

Interstitial Pop Up from GoogleWhat in the world is an interstitial?  You are at your computer/phone and start searching.  You finally find that article you’re looking for and click on the link to the website.  However, you are rudely disrupted from your article browsing after only reading the first two words of because a pop up! You know, the ones with the teeny-tiny close button hiding in the obnoxious graphics.  That is what Google is cracking down on.  The goal is to give you, the consumer, the best experience possible – and those types of interruptions don’t allow for a smooth user experience.

These types of pop-ups are most commonly used for two main reasons:

1) Collecting email addresses for your a mailing list

In order to grow the company mailing list, we all know that site that blocks the content we’re searching for with a pop-up connected with their email provider to blast out new blog articles. There is now a need to be more careful – especially with readership on mobile devices. These types of pop-ups are going to reduce site priority in search results. Currently, this algorithm update does not affect desktop experiences. There hasn’t been any discussion around desktop yet, but we plan on keeping our ears open.

2) Advertising Revenue

This is the business area that will be hit the hardest by this change.  A lot of companies rely on advertising revenue because of these pop ups.  Now, those companies are going to have to start weighing the pros and cons of keeping the ad slot revenue at a loss of Google Page Rank.

So What Do I Do?

Google Interstitial Banner AdFirstly, if you don’t have a developer on staff to dynamically change your interstitials to only pop-up on desktop, I highly recommend removing all together for the time being.  As a business owner, I’d rather lose out on a handful of email list sign ups than risk having my website moved down in Google’s Page Rank.  Secondly, start thinking outside the box.  Google will still allow ads to pop up, but that have to use an appropriate amount of screen real estate on mobile.  To the right you’ll see an ad that does pop over the content, but utilizes an appropriate amount of space (it doesn’t block anything).  Start consolidating the information on your pop-up so it can fit into a smaller space so you can both: A) appease Google and B) still collect the information you need.  Perhaps being more concise with your ad content / email sign up form might actually prompt more people to click/sign up.  Nowadays, consumers are so used to having full-screen pop up ads, that their muscle memory automatically closes those out without even having to think about it.

Google is a constantly evolving monster. Often, adapting in response to its users behaviors. Not only are content blocking pop-ups annoying and obtrusive to user experience – now there is an actual penalty for heckling users. In a moment of confession; I can’t say I’m not unhappy about the change. Even if it means I need to make a few more changes to my own data-collecting approaches.

Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog