Google Mobile Pop-Up Penalty

Everyone knows the frustration when you’re scanning a website for information and that obnoxious pop-ad blocks your view. What’s more, it’s often near impossible to hit the close button, and you end up on the ad’s website against your will. Well mobile web users, you’re in luck! Google just recently implemented a penalty for pop-ups, or what they’re calling “interstitial ads”.

Modifications for Improved User Experience

Improving user experience seems to be the common motive for Google’s occasional modifications to its algorithm. Back in 2015, Google introduced an algorithm update that adjusted search engine rankings based on websites’ mobile friendliness. As a result, the sites that were least mobile friendly were lowered in the rankings providing users with sites that could be easily navigated.

The most recent changes to the search algorithm took place on January 10th, which will ultimately lower the ranking of sites with mobile pop-ups. Google claims these pop-ups, or interstitials, hinder the user’s experience and ability to quickly and easily access information.

Google considers the following techniques interruptive to the user experience:

  • 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.

How this impacts businesses

While companies might be frustrated with having to choose between ranking and profit, Google found 69% of users that were shown an interstitial ad for the Google+ app abandoned the visit altogether. This sheds light on the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of these annoying pop-up ads. Although it seems Google is forcing the hand of brands to eliminate these ads, it may be beneficial for brands to shift their marketing strategy. Focusing on providing engaging and quality content will simultaneously attract users and improve the search ranking.

Certain pop-ups, such as those used by liquor companies to display an age limit, are still required by law and will not be penalized. Those who decide to keep their interstitial ads will only be penalized in the mobile search results since the ads impede on the navigation of smaller screens. Google will also allow mobile banners that take up minimal space and are easy to dismiss.


Google is constantly making updates to its products in order to provide a better user experience. The better the user experience, the more users will utilize Google’s services. Regardless of whether Google makes these updates for their own ultimate benefit, mobile users won’t have to worry about those disruptive mobile pop-up ads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *