Google has decided to crack down on websites which force pop-up ads on mobile users, specifically those which are difficult to remove on mobile screens.
The search engine leader describes these as “intrusive interstitials” and notes how frustrating these can be to users on smartphones with reduced screen space and proportionally tiny removal buttons.
“While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial,” Google explains. “Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible.”
After January 10, 2017, Google says pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly. However, not all pop-ups will be treated equally.
Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification, will not be affected, nor will login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable.