Google’s Mobile Interstitial and Pop-up “Penalty” Now Rolling Out

On January 10th, Google began rolling out its mobile interstitial and pop-up change. Initially announced in August 2016, the change will devalue rankings for mobile sites with intrusive interstitials and pop-ups.

What is an intrusive interstitial? “Intrusive” interstitials or pop-ups block the main content of a site from view. They can appear immediately or over time as the user looks around on the site.

Examples of interstitials that may result in lower rankings are popups that cover the main content.

The change is not for all pop-ups and interstitials, just intrusive ones.

Google’s list of conditions shows when the change may not affect sites that use interstitials:

  • The change does not impact desktop searches, only mobile.
  • Pages can still rank if they have “great, relevant content.”
  • “Okay,” interstitials include cookie usage agreements and age verification pop-ups.
  • “Reasonably sized banners” that are “easily dismissible” are also okay.

Can desktop-only sites get devalued rankings? Or mobile-friendly websites?

Desktop-only sites may still receive devalued rankings because they don’t have a mobile version. Mobile results will use the desktop version.

Additionally, John Mueller says sites can still be mobile-friendly and get devalued rankings due to bad pop-ups. The mobile-friendly test and the interstitial change are “separate.”

Many outlets are calling the change a Google penalty, but it isn’t one; it’s one of the hundreds of ranking signals.

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