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What You Need to Know About Google’s Intrusive Interstitial Update

What does Google’s Intrusive Interstitial algorithm update mean for your website and SEO?

On January 10, Google updated its mobile search algorithm in a big way. The algorithm now makes the visibility of smartphone content an important ranking signal. What does this update, unofficially known as the Intrusive Interstitial update, mean for marketers on mobile platforms? Any website which uses popup boxes will be penalized in search engine rankings in the near future. Here’s what you need to know about the Intrusive Interstitial update and how it will affect your marketing strategy.

Search Rankings Are Becoming More User-Focused

As with nearly all of Google’s algorithm updates, the Intrusive Interstitial update will help users find the content they’re searching for without annoying interruptions. It is aimed at penalizing mobile sites that don’t place the focus on their users and their user experience. Mobile is quickly becoming more important, as we have discussed in previous blogs, owing to the fact that 56% of traffic that major sites receive online come from mobile platforms. The Intrusive Interstitial update is meant to drive the development of easier-to-access content that users on smartphones and tablets can access easily.

Okay, But What Is an Intrusive Interstitial, Anyway?

The best way to ensure your website isn’t penalized by Google is to understand what an intrusive interstitial is. If there is something on your site that:

  • Blocks a page
  • Renders content unreadable
  • Pops up with no interaction
  • Is hard or impossible to close on a mobile platform
  • Annoys the user

…then you have an intrusive interstitial on your website.

Protecting Your Site

If you have popups on your website, there are a few steps you should take to avoid getting penalized by Google’s algorithm. If your call-to-action comes in the form of a popup, use in-text hyperlinks to lead to dedicated landing pages. Also, keep in mind that this change only affects popups that disrupt the user experience. Login popups, banners that are small and easily removable, and other popups might not be flagged by the algorithm. When in doubt, ask yourself if the popup disrupts the user experience. If you can answer “yes”, then it should probably be removed.

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