Google mobile popup algorithm mobile interstitital

The Impact of Google’s Mobile Popup Algorithm Update

In August 2016, Google warned the world that they would be releasing an algorithm update to crack down on interstitials on mobile pages. For anyone who isn’t familiar with what an ‘interstitial”’ is, then I guess I should explain it to you… An interstitial is an advertisement that appears while a chosen website or page is downloading. This can be interpreted as an unwanted advertisement and can appear very spammy.

Here are just a few examples of what interstitial could be:


  • Newsletter signups
  • Popups on scroll
  • Delayed popups
  • Autoplay video
  • Broken popups
  • Malicious downloads
  • Multiple popups on one page


This list goes on…

Now this update has been live for just over a month, and the effects of the interstitial algorithm are unclear. What makes this algorithm so prominent is the fact that it’s rare for Google to announce an algorithm update in advance, and when they did, the webmasters and SEO experts of the globe rejoiced. It is fair to assume that they did everything to prepare for this update, and we all knew when to track the progress of this update as soon as Google rolled the algorithm out.

Google Algorithm Mobile Interstitial Testing

President of G-Squared,Glenn Gabe had his own method of testing Google’s Mobile Popup algorithm update; from January 10th to February 10th Gabe measured the impact of the update in order to determine what the real effects were. It was clear from Google’s announcement that the new algorithm update could impact URLs employing intrusive mobile popups or interstitial. This meant that if your website presented an interstitial that covered a substantial part of the onsite content, that URL could potentially be demoted and penalised in the mobile search results.

Now, everyone knows just how infuriating intrusive pop-ups are, and as a site user I was pretty thrilled to learn about this algorithm update and assumed that it would have an immediate impact on sites using mobile interstitial. However, Gabe’s testing disproved many of our assumptions with his findings;

The Impacts of the mobile popup algorithm

From Gabe’s research, it was clear that there wasn’t any significant impact to mobile rankings and traffic from the mobile popup algorithm update. However, this could be down to the fact that it is too early to see a plummet in rankings. Furthermore, people were able to prepare for the update well in advance – as stated in Gabe’s study, a significant amount of online publications  removed a number mobile pop-ups and interstitials during January 2017.  Gabe came up with an excellent theory – the mobile popup algorithm was in fact working and the lack of significant evidence indicating that sites were being penalised showed that business were prepared. This reinforces the importance of your business staying on top of Google’s algorithm updates, and it is an incredibly smart move. You can never predict how much of an impact a Google algorithm update will have on a site (it can cause sleepless nights) and in the past, we’ve worked with clients who had previously chosen to ignore algorithmic updates and been severely penalised.

From a user experience perspective, I am in full support of this update coming into effect. However, the fact of the matter is that these mobile popups can be beneficial from a conversion point of view… So, will we continue to see these mobile popups in the near future? Will a site risk decreasing the amount of conversions by removing interstitial? Has the mobile popup algorithm update been rolled out properly? There are so many questions. Personally, I think the effects of mobile algorithm update will happen eventually, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!

If you’ve seen this update or any other algorithm update has affected your site, then please do not hesitate to get in touch – as we can help you and your website overcome this.


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