Google Announces a Brand New Penalty

Google Penalty Check. A New Penalty is Announced.

Google Penalty Check. A Brand New Penalty Announced.

It’s an exciting time of year. It’s actually my absolute favourite time of year – the Fall. It’s a time of change, and one of the most beautiful as well as motivating times of year for me. In the world of SEO and search engine marketing (SEM), things are pretty much always changing.

The announcement this week, from the world’s largest search engine, is a doozy. Especially if your business is in to producing mobile apps. Google announced a brand new penalty. If Penguin, Panda, and the mobile-friendly algorithm update weren’t enough, there’s now one more Google penalty to be aware of.

The New Google Penalty

Here’s exactly what Google has to say about penalizing websites that continue to use interstitials after November 1, 2015:

“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant answers, no matter if the answer lives in an app or a web page. We’ve recently made it easier for users to find and discover apps and mobile-friendly web pages.

However, sometimes a user may tap on a search result on a mobile device and see an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content and prompts the user to install an app.

Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page.”

Google Penalty Checker     app download interstitials pages

As of now, Google’s already updated the Mobile-Friendly Test tool, which tells me that sites should avoid showing app install interstitials that hide a significant amount of content from the user on the transition from the search result page.

Pro Tip: Your SEO company or consultant should use The Mobile Usability report in Search Console, (formerly Webmaster Tools) to see the number of pages across your website that have this issue.

So What Does This Mean?

Essentially it boils down to this. Google is deadly serious about a offering every user a smooth experience on mobile devices. I wrote about this recently in a post discussing Google search engine ranking factors and the User Experience (UX) your website provides visitors.

If you’re trying to sell your app or increase app downloads from your website, using pop-up prompts or app download interstitials, you will face a Google Penalty starting November 1, 2015.

“After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.”

So first off, what th #!@$ are app download interstitials anyway?

What Are App Download Interstitials?

App download interstitials are those sometimes annoying little prompts you get when browsing some websites on your mobile device. They prompt you to to download their mobile app or “continue to mobile (or desktop) site”.

Wikipedia says “interstitials are web pages displayed before or after an expected content page, often to display advertisements or confirm the user’s age (prior to showing age-restricted material). Most interstitial advertisements are delivered by an ad server.”

Users tend not to like these interstitials because they feel the use of such pages to present
online advertising before allowing users to see the content they were trying to access is shady.

The Wrap

Stop trying to prompt users to download your app when they visit your website from a mobile device, or else!

Google says that on November 1, 2015, websites still using app download interstitials will not be considered mobile-friendly.

If your website is deemed to be mobile-unfriendly by Google, it will most certainly damage your company’s mobile search engine rankings. 

Need some help with a mobile-friendly website or in removing your app download interstitials?

Contact us today to start your new digital marketing strategy.

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