Websites featuring interstitial, or pop-up, advertisements will be penalized in search results by Google – meaning marketers, publishers and organizations that value SEO may want to look elsewhere for digital ad results.
Google considers these ads intrusive for mobile web users whether they are on desktop or mobile devices, and after Jan. 10, 2017, will begin showing sites that have pop-ups lower in search results in order to improve user experience.
“Any website that shows a pop-up ad that covers the site's main content – whether right when the user gets to that page or while the user is on the page – will be ranked lower in Google's search results,” according to Mashable. “That applies to pop-ups users have to dismiss to continue onto a site, and advertisements that cover the top half of the page.”
Some types of pop-up techniques won’t be impacted by the new standards, including interstitials that are a response to a legal obligation (such as cookie usage notifications or age verification) or log-in dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable or behind a paywall.
According to Google, banner ads that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible are also OK, such as app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome.
Last fall, Google started targeting and penalizing websites with large interstitial ads for app installs in search results – a practice that will be incorporated into these new guidelines.
"We previously explored a signal that checked for interstitials that ask a user to install a mobile app,” according to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog. “As we continued our development efforts, we saw the need to broaden our focus to interstitials more generally. Accordingly, to avoid duplication in our signals, we've removed the check for app-install interstitials from the mobile-friendly test and have incorporated it into this new signal in Search.”