Posts

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:

app-interstitials-google-not-mobile-friendly-750x600

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

app-interstitials-google-yes-mobile-friendly-750x600

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.”

Google has been aggressive about encouraging webmasters to make their sites more mobile-friendly, and it appears they will only become more strict in 2015. Google has started sending mass notifications to webmasters whose websites are not appropriately optimized for mobile.

The notifications, titled “fix mobile usability issues found on…” informs webmasters that their sites have mobile usability errors on all pages and thus will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

The notifications are popping up in Google Webmaster Tools and via email. Perhaps more interesting, Google is also sending the notifications to sites that are blatantly not mobile friendly. Typically these sites already know they are not mobile-friendly, but Google is sending alerts warning these webmasters nonetheless.

This is the latest sign that Google is almost certainly going to be amping up the role mobile optimization plays in search, and many believe there may be an outright “mobile ranking algorithm” in the close future.

The increased importance of mobile to Google is little surprise as mobile gradually overtakes desktop traffic. Google wants to ensure they are directing users to sites that will fit their needs wherever they are, and sites who aren’t mobile-friendly simply don’t deliver.

Here is a copy of the notification being sent out:

google-mobile-seo-errors-1421674683

Google has been emphasizing the importance of mobile design and usability over the past year and now the search giant has added mobile usability reports to Webmaster Tools. Many believe this could be a sign that Google may be making mobile usability a ranking factor sooner rather than later.

The tool is intended to show whether your mobile site has any of the common usability issues that degrade a user’s mobile browsing experience.

Currently, the tool included specific errors for showing flash content on mobile (which can also result in a warning on mobile search results for your site), missing viewport meta-tag for mobile pages, improperly small fonts which are hard to read on mobile, fixed-width viewports, content not sized to viewport, and clickable links and buttons spaced too closely together.

John Mueller from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst team based in Zurich said they “strongly recommend you take a look at these issues in Webmaster Tools.”

Of course, Mueller could simply be encouraging this because it improves user experience, but there is strong evidence to suggest Google will eventually make mobile user experience a ranking signal within search engine algorithms.

You can see an example of the reports below:

Mobile Usability Reports