On the 1st of September, Google announced that they were going to start cracking down on mobile websites with “interstitials” that hide a significant amount of the content. If you aren’t sure what an “interstitial” is, it’s basically a large pop-up. In this case Google is cracking down on full-page notifications telling you to download the website’s app.
Google says that interstitials that hide most of the content on a page can be annoying to users who came to visit a site, which is an opinion supported by their data. They go on to say that they have started making sites with interstitials fail their mobile friendly checks, and in November, Google will start to depreciate their ranking in the results.
Unfortunately this only applies to webpages with interstitals advertising THEIR OWN APP! Unfortunately Google will never crack down on full-page advertisements because guess who serves the ads? Yep. Google. If they penalized sites for displaying equally-annoying large ads, Google would be hurting their own bottom line.
Yeah, I know what you’ll say “cracking down on sites that display ads will ruin revenue for a webmaster”. I really don’t believe that. Every time I encounter a full-screen advertisement on a website (on my phone or PC) I immediately leave the site, 100% of the time. I don’t care how compelling their content sounded. I’m much more likely to see the 10 other ads on your site if you don’t stop my entrance with one large one. The experience is the same with ads as it is with interstitals advertising an app, it blocks the content I expect to see. Ads are part of the internet’s DNA – they aren’t going away and that’s fine. I just wish Google would apply the same standards to everything because always try and make it sound like they are being magnanimous when they make “improvements” like this. If they were really looking out for user-experience this change would impact ALL large interstitials.