Google to Penalise Sites with Intrusive App Install Popups

Google has announced that it will penalise sites with intrusive popups that ask mobile users to install an application. This latest update is one that could threaten your site’s rankings if you aren’t aware of what it means and how to make sure your site still meets Google’s mobile-friendly requirements.

What the Penalty Means

This penalty targets sites that use an interstitial that asks people to download an app and covers most of the content or makes the site hard to use. If your mobile site has one of these popups, and looks like the image below, you need to change what you are doing.

Image source.

Google will no longer consider sites that work this way mobile friendly. This means your site will no longer have the “mobile friendly” label in search results and you could be at risk of losing your rankings.

Google explains why it is penalising this practice: “Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page.”

Alternatives to Use

Sites that use these interstitials will be penalised starting November 1, so you have some time to make sure your site is still mobile friendly and meets Google’s guidelines.

It’s very important to understand that Google isn’t asking businesses to completely stop using popups. This update will only penalise sites with popups asking people to download an app that cover most of a site’s text, as shown above.

However, you can still use banners that aren’t intrusive and don’t cover most of your mobile site’s content and still be in good standing with Google. In fact, Google’s announcement suggests that site owners use Safari’s Smart Banners or Chrome’s Native App Install Banners instead of annoying, full-size popups.

Here’s what a Google-approved app install banner would look like:

Image source.

You can see this is much simpler and doesn’t make it hard for users to see and navigate a mobile site, although it does give businesses a chance to promote their apps.

Don’t Skip App Promotion

This announcement shouldn’t cause you to stop promoting your mobile app. In fact, if you have an app, asking mobile site visitors to download it is an excellent way to publicise it. Now, it’s more important than before that you promote it in a way that doesn’t annoy users or make your site hard to use.

Mobile apps are a great marketing tool that can help you connect to mobile users who want to interact with your business, buy products or view your content.

This latest update from Google shows how the search engine sees mobile readiness as extremely important, and isn’t interested in promoting sites that are hard to use due to popups that cover most of the screen. Instead of doing this, opt for a smaller banner that lets you promote your app while keeping your site easy to use and meeting Google’s guidelines.