Google’s Penalty on Mobile Intrusive Interstitials

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Mobile traffic is more prominent than ever and Google is taking another step further in cracking down on websites that have poor mobile experiences. Google is dictating how interstitials (popups) should work on websites. It is time to stop driving your users away and negatively impacting your mobile search rankings with popups. Explore this blog to understand what Google’s penalty is and how it impacts mobile search going forward


As of January 10th, 2017, implementing invasive interstitials can result in a penalty. Google has stated that pages where content is hidden behind an interstitial when clicking from a search result is a poor mobile experience. Pages that make this mistake may suffer from a lower search ranking (currently only affects mobile search rankings). Therefore, it is imperative to make sure the content on any pages that are being indexed in mobile search are easily accessible when a mobile user navigates to a page from Google.

Three types of Intrusive Interstitials

Google believes that intrusive interstitials detract from the online mobile experience and often provides information counter to what the user expected when clicking on a search result. These intrusive interstitial often come in the form of a popup that prevents a user from viewing the content that they intended to see. Couple this blocked content with the smaller screens on mobile devices and you have a difficult user experience for people that are often trying to get info on the go.

Here is a list of three interstitials that are problematic according to Google:

  • Displaying a popup that consumes the entire screen of the main content, especially when a mobile user immediately maneuvers to a desired page from the search results or when looking through a page
  • An interstitial that is shown that requires a mobile user to exit out of or dismiss before reaching the main content
  • Implementing a layout where the above-the-fold section of the page appears comparable to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been in-lined underneath the fold



It is also important to note that you may receive a penalty on interstitials that are irrelevant to the search query. A page with relevant content may still rank highly.

Three types of Unaffected Interstitials

However, Google is not banning all interstitials. Google has put together a list of accepted interstitials that will not be penalized:

  • Used for legal obligation (such as cookie usage, age verification)
  • Logins where content is not able to be indexed publicly
  • Banners that use a tolerable amount of space on a screen, but are easy to escape or dismiss



With the rise of mobile dominance, it is important that everyone is aware about how popups and marketing campaigns directly affect their users. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly, compatible, and abides by the interstitial rules so that your business can rank higher in mobile search. This in return will boost and positively impact your SEO for your website.  is an industry leader in online advertising, SEO and custom web design. Our comprehensive digital marketing solutions include social media management as well as social media advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social outlets. Looking for mobile website solutions or help with search engine marketing? Contact us online or by phone at (425) 822-8200.

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