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Google: Interstitials are Fine Under this Condition via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s John Mueller answered if Google considered mobile interstitials a negative page experience factor. Mueller acknowledged that nothing has changed. But he then suggested a way to show interstitials without any negative quality factor affecting the rankings.

Mobile Interstitials

A mobile interstitial ad is one that significantly covers a web page, keeping a user from seeing the content.

There are two kinds of interstitials, one that is overlayed over most of the web page and requires a click to close it.

The other kind of mobile interstitial is the kind that covers the entire web page.

Google Anti-Interstitial Negative Ranking Factor

In August 2016 Google announced that they were going to make mobile interstitials a negative ranking factor. The update to the algorithm occurred in January 2017.

Google specifically noted these kinds of advertising as subject to triggering a negative ranking factor:

  • “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.”

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Has Google’s Stance on Interstitials Evolved?

The person asking the question noted that interstitials performed very well for them. But they were concerned about a negative ranking factor.

This is the question:

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“In 2017 interstitials were a big non-no.

And even today monetizing with AdSense Vignettes is capped to showing only once per hour.

However for our use case, again interstitials are far better solutions than banner ads because banner ads take precious screen space. Interstitial ads is very common in mobile apps.

Is there any change to Google’s stance on interstitials?

Will it affect our rank if we do use interstitial ads on our mobile website?”

Google’s 2021 Opinion on Mobile Interstitials

John Mueller stated that Google’s position has not changed or evolved in any way.

John Mueller’s answer:

“There’s not really a change in our stance when it comes to interstitials in that intrusive interstitials is still something that we would use for as a ranking factor.

It’s a part of the page experience and elements as well.”

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Google-approved Interstitials

Mueller next described a way to show interstitials so that they will not trigger a negative ranking factor from Google.

Mueller:

“However, this is essentially focused on that moment when a user comes to your website.

So if you’re using interstitials as something in between …the normal flow of when a user goes to your website, then from our point of view that’s less of an issue.

But really, if someone comes to your website and the first thing that they see is this big interstitial and they can’t actually find the content that they were essentially promised in search then from that point of view that looks bad.

But if people can go to your website, they can do something on there, they can start to play a game, and kind of like at the start of the next level you show an interstitial ad then from our point of view, that’s perfectly fine.

That’s essentially something between you and the user and finding that balance of how many ads you show or how you present those ads during the …session on the site, that’s essentially something up to you.

So from that point of view, probably this is less of an issue to focus on.

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I don’t know your specific website, I don’t know how it is when users go to it.

But that’s something where probably I would guess it’s okay.”

User Experience: First Thing Visitors See

Google’s position on mobile interstitials is that users should be able to see and interact with the content when they reach the web page from a search result.

When Google sends a user to a web page they expect users to find the content they are looking for and not be kept from it by an interstitial.

But according to John Mueller, as long as the interstitial is not the first thing a user sees then that should be fine.

Citations

Google’s Interstitial Penalty Announcement

Helping Users Easily Access Content on Mobile

How to Use Interstitials Without Affecting Rankings

Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 35 minute mark:

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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