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Has your brand or business been using large pop-ups to gather email addresses or asking people to like you on Facebook? You might be in trouble with Google if you don’t change your site soon.

Google has announced it will begin to penalize sites with intrusive pop-ups or interstitials starting January 10, 2017.

As Google defines them, intrusive interstitials are pop-ups that block the main content on a screen until an action is taken. While this can be an effective way to ask visitors to take action, most people find these annoying because it serves as a roadblock before they are able to see what they came to see.

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

For the moment, Google is just singling out interstitials on mobile devices and devaluing search rankings for mobile results. It is unclear if they intend to extend this to desktop in the future.

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The change to Google’s algorithms specifically targets pages with interstitials that either pop-up immediately when a person lands on a page or is triggered by scrolling down the page. It was also devalue sites which use oversized above-the-fold content to look like an interstitial.

There are some exemptions to Google’s interstitial rules. Pages with “reasonable” banners that don’t take up excessive amounts of screen space will be considered acceptable. Also, sites that are required to use interstitials for legal reasons – such as cookie usage or age verification – will be exempt from ranking devaluation.

The latest change shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Google has already cracked down on one form of interstitials in the past by devaluing pages with interstitials that prompt users to install a mobile app. According to the company’s announcement, their work into that algorithm change showed the company they also needed to tackle interstitials as a whole.

As with all algorithm changes, the new guidelines for interstitials don’t automatically mean death for your online traffic if you are using interstitials. If your site is still highly relevant for a search, it may still appear in the top results. However, it is usually better to err on the side of caution with Google, rather than face the risk of a penalty.

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While loading speed is a crucial issue for most mobile internet users, Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Algorithm” isn’t currently using it as a ranking factor for mobile pages. However, that is likely to change when Google releases their next mobile-friendly update.

According to reports from the recent Search Marketing Summit in Sydney this week, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed Google would be including page speed as a factor in the next mobile update. But, it may be months until that update arrives.

The inclusion of page speed seems like common sense. The majority of mobile users are likely to leave a page if it doesn’t load within five seconds, and some are even more impatient. From Google’s perspective, including page speed as a factor means they are more likely to help users find a site they will be happy with on the first click as often as possible.

It also makes sense considering Google introduced their version of Accelerated Mobile Pages recently.

Want to know how your site stacks up in terms of page speed or other mobile friendly factors? Google has also released updated versions of their mobile-friendliness and page speed tests for both desktop and mobile in one place.

The new tool, available here, combines all the free site evaluation tools Google offers in one easy-to-read report. You can also get a more extensive report emailed to you for deeper analysis.

Large overlay advertisements will likely be going out of style fast, as Google has announced app interstitial ads that cover a “significant amount of content” on your page will be considered not mobile-friendly and will not rank as well as mobile-friendly pages.

The change will go into effect on November 1, but Google’s mobile-friendly testing tools are already showing them as not mobile-friendly as of yesterday. In the announcement, Google wrote:

After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly. This does not affect other types of interstitials. As an alternative to app install interstitials, browsers [should] provide ways to promote an app that are more user-friendly.

Here is an image to give you an idea of the kind of app interstitials that Google is attempting to do away with:

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Here is an example of the type of interstitials that will be considered mobile-friendly, according to Google:

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This means the native Apple-supported Smart Banners and Google Chrome-supported App Install Banners will continue to work just fine without causing any problems for your rankings, but the extra-large ones that cover up most or all of the page will no longer be mobile-friendly.

If you want to make sure your site is safe, be sure to test your pages that use app interstitials to ensure they pass the mobile-friendly test or the mobile usability test. Either of these tools will show you immediately if your pages have issues with app interstitials or other issues that may make your pages rank poorly on mobile searches.

Google said this only impacts app ads that block content like this while other ads not for apps will apparently remain unpunished. In the announcement, it said, “This does not affect other types of interstitials.”

Those who have been following search trends in the past couple years have likely heard that being the first result on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is not nearly as important these days, mostly because the results we see are now customized based on location and user habits.

This is absolutely still the case for desktop searching, but a new click-through ranking study conducted by seoClarity suggests the difference between first and second in mobile search results may be the difference between success and failure. Their findings show such a large drop-off between the first and second rankings that there was no notable difference between the second listing and those that followed.

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In the graph of mobile click through rates, you can see the first result receives nearly three times the number of clicks compared to the second ranking, while desktop rankings continue to show a more gradual slope following the first result.

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To conduct the study, seoClarity examined over 2 billion impressions from Google Webmaster Tools data over a 90 day period between June and August. You can download and view the full report here.