What are pop ups? Pop ups are a small window of advertising that pops up on your web page, usually annoying your site visitor and making for a subpar user experience (UX). Pop ups are soon to be known by their more technical name, intrusive interstitials. Google’s new Page Experience update is calling for no intrusive interstitials, which means many website owners have questions around how to stop pop up ads from affecting your rankings or how to fix intrusive interstitials or how to remove pop ups or even -- and more to the point -- what is an interstitial?
Google wants to ensure that no intrusive interstitials get between the users and the content they need. The Page Experience Update means that websites using intrusive interstitials, particularly mobile intrusive interstitials, will get a Google interstitial penalty.
If you can keep your website interstitials to a minimum and fix mobile interstitials, you’ll offer a better user experience. Now is the time to refine your technical search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and preserve your Search rankings.
But how do intrusive interstitials work? More specifically, what is the Google intrusive interstitials update?
Here you will learn all about intrusive interstitials, including how Google intrusive interstitials and mobile intrusive interstitials affect the user, and the benefits of mobile interstitials for a website owner. Furthermore, we tackle the Google interstitial penalty, how to stop pop ups from affecting your rankings and how to fix or remove intrusive interstitials.
What Is Intrusive Interstitials?
Users are always asking how to stop pop up ads and for good reason. Don’t give your visitors a reason to bounce off your site. Let’s delve into how interstitials work and the reason for the mobile interstitials penalty.
An overview of what is interstitials and how intrusive interstitials work:
What does interstitial mean – the dictionary definition? The interstitials definition is to be between things. To that end, interstitials in an online context are web pages or popups that interfere with the content users are viewing.
A Google interstitial is when content is interrupted by interstitials or popups for users coming specifically from Google Search results.
Interstitial Pop Up vs Pop Up Ads
An interstitial pop up is an umbrella term for content-blocking pages. Interstitial pop ups examples include marketing strategies such as blog subscription sign-ups or display advertisements such as Google pop up ads for eCommerce listings.
Types of Pop Ups
Common types of pop ups include new-window Google pop up ads, full-page interstitials, pop up overlay (partially covers the page content) and modals (windows for required actions such as sign-ins or legal notices).
Google pop up ads and interstitials are proven to benefit website owners, so users encounter it frequently – so often that many wonder how to stop pop ups and even go on to search how to stop pop ups on Google. The Google no intrusive interstitials update was designed to manage popup use.
Why No Intrusive Interstitials Matters to Google Page Experience Ranking Factors
Google’s mission is to serve users the best answers to their questions in the shortest amount of time. You use a Google interstitial to capture your potential customer’s attention, but pop ups delay the user from getting the content they need.
Not all types of pop ups are bad. Google allows website owners to use required interstitials (modals) and reasonably-sized interstitials (pop up overlay or banners). Intrusive interstitials are pages that completely interfere with your content’s readability. How intrusive interstitials work is that it takes up most of the space on a mobile screen.
Remember that blocking content with pages deteriorates the user experience. This matters all the more on mobile screens because of the limited space. Before your users leave to find out how to stop pop ups on Google, abide by technical SEO rules and avoid the Google interstitial penalty.
The Page Experience update emphasizes having no intrusive interstitials as a critical ranking signal, along with Core Web Vitals, mobile friendly and HTTPS.
Google has recently added a Page Experience report to Google Search Console that consolidates your site’s performance for the different Page Experience ranking signals. While there is no specific metric associated with the no intrusive interstitials ranking signal, the Page Experience report introduces the Ad Experience report that may provide some insight.
You will have to manually check your site’s Ad Experience status outside of the Page Experience report. Google notes that many sites are not tested for Ad Experience, but this isn’t a bad thing! If your site is not tested, it is considered as passing the Ad Experience test. But if it is flagged, then you need to take a hard look at what Google considers intrusive ads or interstitials.
Take note that while the Page Experience report shows a percentage of your mobile URLs with a good Page Experience, it will be inaccurate if your site has Ad Experience issues.
How to Avoid Intrusive Interstitials
When Googlebot crawls your site, it will find every Google interstitial present on pages that can be found on Search results. But it doesn’t mean you can’t use any interstitials; you just need the right approach.
The current mobile intrusive interstitials guide is not extensive, so a technical SEO expert would turn to Google representatives like John Mueller for additional insight. Work with officially released information on the Google no intrusive interstitials update and run tests based on various insights to find what works best for your site.
Avoid a Google interstitials penalty with this key information:
Interstitial Web Page
Google is generally lenient with desktop interstitials but strict with mobile. Use an interstitial web page on mobile only if it’s worth risking a penalty. An acceptable interstitial pop ups example is a small app install banner on mobile.
Modals and Legal Interstitials
Some interstitials are required by law, and the mobile intrusive interstitials guide says these will not be penalized “if used responsibly.” Examples of this are age verification pages, cookie usage popups and sign-in windows. Google’s John Mueller has confirmed that Googlebot can recognize modals or legal interstitials and doesn’t need a markup to label this, so you don’t have to worry about penalties for modals.
How to Remove Intrusive Interstitials
The first step for a technical SEO expert is to conduct a site audit using third-party tools. Google has not released an official intrusive interstitials checker but this is accounted for in the mobile friendly guidelines. But especially for small websites, knowing what is and isn’t allowed by Google is enough to do a manual inspection and removal.
How to Improve Intrusive Interstitials
The bottom line of Google’s mobile intrusive interstitials guide is to optimize the user experience on mobile and avoid interstitials. Removing mobile intrusive interstitials is key to positioning your site well for the Google no intrusive interstitials update.
How to fix intrusive interstitials like a technical SEO expert:
Remove New Window Interstitials
Interstitials or pop ups that open in a new window are entirely unacceptable to Google. Most browsers block these automatically, so prioritize removing new window interstitials.
Remove Full-Page Interstitials
Full-page interstitials are automatically considered as Google intrusive interstitials and will be penalized. If an interstitial opens in the same window or page your user is on, make sure it doesn’t take up the entire screen (especially on mobile).
Keep Your Interstitials Small
Google allows interstitials that are sized reasonably. Experts recommend using small banners at the top of your home page or utilizing the lower one-third portion of your page for necessary interstitials. Make sure your interstitials are easy to dismiss with a clear exit button.
Load Interstitials on Top of Content
Googlebot needs to be able to crawl the page for you to rank. If the server only delivers the interstitial, Googlebot would not be able to click through to crawl the content. Use the HTML tag to ensure your interstitial is on top of the content and not replacing it.
Use a Timed Pop Up Overlay
Your site visitors are less likely to ask how to stop pop ups if it’s not ruining the user experience – and showing one immediately after their click does. If you must use a pop up, consider using a timed overlay that appears after a number of seconds or a certain scroll depth on desktop and make sure it’s below the fold on mobile.
Investigate Your Traffic Sources
The rules surrounding Google intrusive interstitials apply to pages users click when coming from organic or paid Search results. Audit your site to ensure your mobile site visitors coming from Search are seeing only minimal interstitials. For all other traffic sources, it’s best to abide by Google’s general rules on mobile friendliness and page experience.
Now that you know all about how intrusive interstitials work and guidelines on Google intrusive interstitials, make sure you improve your interstitials for the Page Experience update, which began rolling out on 15 June 2021.
Our technical SEO agency spent the last four months improving our Page Experience ranking signals. Call our technical SEO agency at 866.908.4748 or fill out our contact form to find out how to improve your intrusive interstitials with customized technical SEO services.