Google made two announcements this week regarding their mobile SERPs rankings and UI. First, they let everyone know that the “mobile friendly” tag on mobile SERPs is being phased out. Google’s attempts to scare the pants off of everyone evidently worked, and they now report that 85 percent of pages use mobile optimization techniques.
The more complex story is that Google will now start punishing rankings for sites with obtrusive on-page “pop-ups” that are hard to navigate away from and hog the content. Read on to learn more about exactly what types of practices Google is trying to discourage and how your site can adjust.
Hit the Monkey and Win a Porsche! (Except Please Don’t)
Raise your hand if you miss pop-up ads. Don’t be shy! Huh. No one’s raising their hand. You guys are sure?
Well, most people feel the same way you do, which is why browsers began to integrate pop-up blocking features natively. Now, a site better have a darn good reason for starting a new window, especially when other options like new tabs exist.
Despite the mass migration away from popups, a huge portion of marketing-led sites insist on utilizing their own breed of on-page pop-ups known as “interstitials.” Most of them are built in CSS3, Java or HTML5 these days.
Desktop users most likely notice them as they try to navigate away from pages, but mobile users have it especially bad. Since mobile users don’t have a mouse, page designers decided to get extra cruel and have these interstitial ads pop up right as they navigate onto a page. No doubt you have noticed them as you visited a page and almost immediately clicked on an ad while trying to scroll to the content.
Yeah, Google doesn’t like that. They know users’ pain, and they see how bad practices proliferate if left unchecked. Their latest efforts will dock rankings on sites with exceptionally bad interstitial practices that ruin user experience and make mobile browsing difficult.
Which Types of Ads Are Being Punished?
The good news is that not all interstitials are part of the witch hunt.
Google most likely recognizes that they can be a great strategy for converting page visitors to the next desired action or landing page. To that end, they have no problem with small ads that display characteristics like these:
- Doesn’t take up full screen
- Displayed with a border that allows users to navigate away by clicking back on the content
- Sits on top of content rather than replacing it, especially above the fold
- Prominent “window close” button
- Static ads that don’t move around obnoxiously
Basically, Google wants to get rid of intrusive ads that push away content, are hard to navigate away from and basically trick the user into clicking on them. If these qualities sound like the foundations of your mobile lead capture strategy, it’s time to rethink it before Google sends a lightning bolt your site’s way.
If you would like any assistance with refining your mobile lead capture strategy to reduce dependence on ads Google will punish, consider using EverSpark Interactive’s Atlanta web design services. We keep ranking at top-of-mind, blending SEO and solid user experience to create a product people and Google both love.