Google will rank sites with intrusive ads lower on search results

Google finally draws the line and takes measures against websites that are using intrusive ad practices.

There are plenty of websites that in pursuit of revenue do everything to become non-user-friendly. All these intrusive ads really slow down the loading of pages but also they just interfere with users getting the desired content, especially taking into account the small size of mobile devices screens. Google has recently outlined most annoying kinds of such ads:

Image: Google Webmaster Central Blog

  • Popups that cover the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Standalone interstitials that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Websites using such ad techniques will be 'punished': their pages rank will be lowered. As stated in Google blog: "While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result".

There are some interstitials that won't be affected by new rules, namely:

Image: Google Webmaster Central Blog
  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

Starting with January 10, 2017, pages containing ads that make content less accessible for a user on mobile search results may be ranked lower. Although, as Google adds: "this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content".

Will see how it will work out. Sounds interesting anyway. By the way, what do you think about this initiative?

Daria Magdik on Industry News
August 24, 2016
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