Got a Big “Try Our App” Ad? You Might Have a Penalty

Got a Big "Try Our App" Ad? You Might Have a Penalty

The phrase “interstitial ad” might not mean much to you, but if your business has its own app, it could have a huge impact on your mobile SEO. Google just launched its new algorithm that penalizes sites with interstitials.

What Is an Interstitial Ad?

The easiest way to understand an interstitial is to see one in action. Grab your mobile device and try navigating to yelp.com. At the time of this writing, what you’ll most likely see is not the reviews of local businesses that you’d expect. Instead, you’ll see a red-accented screen suggesting you download their mobile app.

This page is “interstitial” because it stands between you and the content you actually want. There is a (small) link that lets you continue to the mobile site anyway, but it still serves as a sort of roadblock or doorway page, which Google already penalizes in regular search results.

Just like regular doorway pages, the reason Google doesn’t like interstitial app ads is that they degrade the user experience. Google’s job is to give users the best, most user friendly results for a search, not a detour. Rerouting users wastes their time and, in Google’s opinion, can’t be considered mobile friendly.

The new algorithm went live November 2. If your site features an interstitial, the update won’t knock your page out of mobile search results altogether, but will put you farther down the search results compared to more user-friendly competitors.

Alternatives

Does the new algorithm mean you can’t advertise your app? Not at all. Google has taken many steps to encourage app development, such as indexing in-app content and boosting it in search results. They just want to make sure your ads don’t serve as a barrier to the content users are seeking.

Based on Google’s recommendations, I would recommend two steps to avoid the penalty:

  • Make sure that mobile visitors go directly to the content they clicked on—load the destination page immediately, with no redirect or interstitial on the way.
  • As an alternative to the interstitial, put a banner on top of your mobile page advertising your app. Include an “x” the user can tap to close the banner if they’re not interested.

Of course, there is another easy solution: just build your actual site to be mobile friendly, so users don’t need an app in the first place. You’ll save money and make life easier for your customers.

Need help making your site mobile friendly, and winning the SEO game? Contact EverSpark Interactive. We have a seasoned team of SEO and web development experts, and offer a free in-depth consultation. Get your free consultation today.