Google wants mobile users to see the search results they’re looking for instead of ending up stuck face-to-face with ads that block content.
The company on Tuesday said it will begin cracking down on mobile websites that show popups that cover their main content, display a standalone interstitial that a user has to click through to access the main content or use a layout that makes the above-the-fold section of the webpage appear as a standalone interstitial with content underneath.
These types of ads, Google said, frustrate users looking for content and companies that utilize these formats may soon find themselves further down in its search results. The company is leaving some time for websites to adapt, though, noting the changes won’t go into effect until January 10, 2017.
Google said the new criteria item is just one of hundreds of cues that will continue to be used in search result ranking.
The change appears to be an expansion of Google’s September 2015 policy that introduced penalties for mobile pages that showed app installation prompts.
The new penalty will not apply to interstitials that are in response to a legal obligation – as for cookies or age verification – nor will it apply to login dialogs or easily dismissible banners that use a “reasonable” amount of screen space, Google said.
To further streamline mobile search, Google said it will also be removing the mobile-friendly label since 85 percent of all pages in mobile search results now meet the criteria for that label.