Google is taking steps towards making surfing the mobile web better for its users. In a recent blog post, the company announced that it will now give mobile websites a low ranking in its search results if it is caught utilizing intrusive pop-up ads.
According to them, pages that display pop-up ads provide a poorer experience to users, compared to other ones where content is immediately available to them. "This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller," the blog post stated. "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."
Google took the time to indicate what falls as an "intrusive" pop-up under its system. Here are a few examples:
- Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout 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.
However, despite this, not all pop-ups will be affected. Google indicates that there may be some instances where pop-ups in mobile sites are essential to the website's function. They list a few examples:
- 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.
Lastly, Google asks websites to not worry too much about the new policy, as it is only one of the many algorithms working in order to display relevant search results to mobile users. If a website is seen to have great, relevant content, it may still rank high, despite possibly intrusive pop-ups.
Back in March, Google modified its mobile search algorithm, favoring those websites that are 'mobile-friendly' in search results.
Editor note: Neowin does not display pop up advertising.