Google’s new pop-up penalty

Google’s announced a new policy that’s going to start affecting your mobile-centric websites next year. If you have interstitial ads on your site, Google is going to start punishing it by lowering its rankings. This doesn’t affect websites meant to be seen on desktop computers, only those designed for viewing on mobile devices.

Interstitial ads are those designed to replace and cover the viewing portion of the website. One example is something almost all of us have on our sites: a pop-up ad designed to gather email addresses for newsletter lists. Another example is one used by Forbes and other large companies, an ad that fills the entire page before you’re even allowed to view the site you’ve searched for.

The curious thing about this is when you do a search for Google’s instructions on how to create ads for the AdWords Network.

They feature a section aimed at developers that teaches all about creating interstitial ads. Apparently, creating this type of ad for AdWords is all right, in Google’s view, but not for your own website.

Your best bet is to cut down on the size of your interstitial ad. It seems like an ad that takes up the top portion of the page, above the site title, will be ok.

Also, smaller pop-ups with a tiny footprint that don’t cover everything might be all right. The idea is to avoid those ads that cover all the real estate in your entire website, allowing readers to click off the ads more easily. We’re going to keep watching this to find out just what kind of effect this will have on rankings, but start working on a smaller ad if you’re going to have one at all.

For more information, visit the StewArt website.

Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.

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