On January 10, Google has updated its algorithm, applying the so-called Mobile Interstitial Penalty.

If your website pages features elements that make the content not easily accessible to your mobile visitors, your ranking on Search Results Page may suffer a backlash.

This should mostly target pages that appear on mobile search results.

Desktops popups and interstitials are still not penalised as much. I wouldn’t be surprised if this should change in the future, though.

How to avoid Google Mobile Interstitial Penalty?

If your website, when visited from a mobile device, features Popups, Modals or other Interstitials that:

  • Cover your content (even just by graying it out)
  • Cannot be removed unless you click the “X” to close them
  • Cannot be remuved unless a specific amount of time has passed (pretty much like some ads on mobile apps).

You should remove them right away.

Only exceptions, according to Google, are popups that serve a purpose such as displaying informations about Cookie Policy or Age Verification popups.

Like most of what is related to search engine’s ranking factors (and Search Engine Optimisation in general), think first and foremost in terms of user experience.

Ask yourself: will this feature slow my visitor’s ability to browse my content? If it does, you should remove it.

Luckily it is Google itself, in the blog post that announces the algorithm update, that shows us some examples of which are to be considered Good and which Bad Interstitials.

Bad Interstitials vs Good Interstitials

Examples of intrusive interstitials

Examples of intrusive interstitials – Source: Google

These are examples of intrusive popups and interstitials, according to Google.

The first should be a Modal. The second and third ones are standalone interstitials.

As you can see, all of them cover most – if not all – of the content of a page. Also, they are advertising a paid service.

A visitor reaching the page from a mobile search results – will likely be far more interested in the actual content, rather than in stuff that gets in the way.

Just in case you may need it, here is an article about the difference between a Popup, an Interstitial and a Modal.


Examples of good interstitials

Examples of good interstitials – Source: Google

These are examples of interstitials that are less likely to get you penalised by Google.

The first one is an example of what a Cookie Policy popup may look like. The second one is an actual interstitial, covering the whole content, but for the purpose of Age Verification.

The last one is an advertisement, but it is included in a small, simple banner. It doesn’t really block the actual content of the website from being browsed.

So, yes! It is possible to have ads on a website’s mobile version without being penalised by the Mobile Interstitial Penalty. Just be reasonable!

If you want to read more about the topic, I suggest you to read this article published on Search Engine Journal.

Do you need help to avoid being penalised by Google’s Mobile Interstitial Penalty? Contact us!