Mobile Intrusive Interstitial Penalty from Google 2017

Google Removing Mobile Friendly label and launching new update named Mobile Intrusive Interstitial Pop up ads: Jan-2017

Last year, Google announced the launch of a new algorithm that will crack down the sites that uses Intrusive interstitial pop ups. The algorithm takes into effect from Jan – 10 – 2017. Google ads up a statement that, they are dropping “Mobile friendly label from their search results” as because 85% of sites were turned into Mobile Friendly.

Then, what is this new algorithm Mobile Intrusive Interstitials Penalty?

Google Says, “Where ever content is not easily accessible to the users in mobile views will not rank quickly”.

Intrusive Interstitial

Google in their official Webmasters Central Blog, says:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout 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.


But there are some exception for some pop ups such as asking for Legal notices, login dialogue boxes and banners that don’t take more than 15% of the mobile screen and easily dismissible Pop ups were all unaffected in this Mobile Intrusive Interstitial Penalty.

Google in their official Webmasters Central Blog says:

  • Interstitial 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.

What is Mobile Intrusive Interstitial Pop-ups?

Two Years ago, Google Introduced Mobile Friendly label for all the domains after then, domains that are responsive will get better rankings then.

On 21 April 2015, Google released a mobile friendly update in their algorithm where all webmasters asked to take action to make their site responsive so that their website contents can accommodate in all screen sizes without horizontal scroll bar.

This has improved a lot in terms of user experience. On Jan – 10 – 2017, Google announced another update appending Mobile friendly design and that is called as “Mobile Intrusive Interstitial Penalty update”. Intrusive interstitial are also called as Pop ups.

They tend to bring bad user experience because most webmasters use to display Ad sense ads, call to action and other banner ads.

These types of Intrusive interstitial’s make it frustrating because users won’t able to access the exact content of the page what they are looking for.


Why Google announced Mobile Intrusive Interstitial Penalty?

This announcement were not decided by overnight but were planned some years ago.

Since Aug – 2015 Google first announced that they are working to ban pop up interstitials and consider it as a negative ranking factor. They also added, “WE don’t have anything to announce at this moment, but its our future plan”.

Mobile traffic in recent decades was growing enormous and Google continuously insist better user experience in their mobile traffic. They noted in a speech, that more than 78% of traffic to a website was coming from Mobile search.

Marcus Andrews, HubSpot marketing manager in his Google mobile friendly update reminder says, “Google is very focused on the user,” “Marketers are always looking for hacky ways to increase traffic and conversion rates, and every once in a while, Google needs to make a correction to improve the user experience.

With Pop ups and Modal windows, there proved to be an average 3.09% CTR with some high-performing pop ups reached 9% conversion rate, a recent study reported. It adds more value that Google focus on Mobile user experience.

Pop-Up Conversion Rates


How to identify Intrusive interstitial?

Google from their webmaster blog said, “Sites with intrusive interstitial ruining user experience will negatively impact their site ranking”. So, as a webmaster you must need to check your site against those intrusive pop ups and fix them ASAP! to stay safe from Google Penalty.

There are three types of Intrusive pop ups Google declared as subject to penalize.

First one is a Regular Pop up or modal window blocking the entire content of the page. These pop ups were usually shown with dark semi-transparent background.

Second one is a standalone, full-screen interstitial that occupies entire screen. If you want to see the actual content you must scroll up to see the rest of the content. It is just like a regular pop up but there will no preview of the actual content and it hides entirely behind this popup.

Third one is a also a standalone, but it occupies the entire layout of the screen. This will block the actual content and there will be no preview at all. A best example I can say is, Live Chat Box that automatically appears over the screen when a web page is loaded.

This is however to help the visitor, but it ruin user experience because not all visitors need to chat. Hence it may ruin user experience if all they want to do is read the content they are looking for



Some non-penalized Intrusive interstitial:

As earlier in this post, I mentioned that there are some exceptions for the Intrusive pop up interstitials and not all the interstitial will be penalized, as Google says. Let’s see what are those?

Legal notices such as Confirming Legal age, asking to accept terms and conditions, asking to accept cookies for better user experience. Google will not punish these interstitial.

Age verification Pop up blockers was required in age-sensitive content such as adult website or alcohol information sites.

Cookie consent notifications were required by EU and Google poses no penalty over this pop up.

Display Pop-ups such as Email subscription Forms will not be punished as long as they do not take reasonable amount of space.

Google hasn’t mentioned the exact sizes, but assume that it will not occupy more than 15% of mobile screen sizes in both Landscape and portrait mode.

This further goes with how you approach this update by respecting users screen space and size will determine your penalty level. Re-designing pop up interstitial ads make them to occupy lesser space with proper A/B test could be a change and make you to stay away from penalty.


Final Words:

Google always wants to provide better user experience and it is our foremost duty to provide the same as a webmaster. Respect user screen size and provide them actual content.

Better stop displaying intrusive interstitials in mobile screens to stay safe from Google Penalty if you cannot able to make them to occupy very lesser screen space.

So far, no one knows what Pop ups be punishable and what not?

Only Google knows, as a webmaster respect user and work with responsibility. Watch your interstitials and take action to avoid penalty.

We do not know how strong this ranking factor would be, but Google shows a confirmative strong preference over this intrusive interstitial factor.


If you receive any warnings as Mobile intrusive Penalty from Google Search Console, follow this action immediately to recover.

  • Review your interstitial whether they are for Age verification or cookie notifications. If not so consider removing them entirely or stop showing in mobile screens.
  • Find interstitial that leads directly from Google Search Results, that acts Ads.
  • If an interstitial were of mandatory that you find not to remove, then redesign to take up a small screen of less than 15% on all mobile devices.

Still you have doubts about new Intrusive interstitial ranking factor, Ask here I will provide you with best solutions.


Mohana Priya. G, Student pursuing B.Tech Information Technology, hailing from TamilNadu. Student and blogger by hobby, laying the road to transform blogging into a business.

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Mobile Intrusive Interstitial Penalty from Google 2017

by Priya time to read: 5 min