Google Won’t Consider Sites Mobile-Friendly If They Use Those Annoying, Full-Screen App Install Ads

On the left, annoying. On the right, you're mobile-friendly.

On the left, annoying. On the right, you’re mobile-friendly.

There you are, searching for the perfect cheese dip recipe on your phone, and you think you’ve finally found the cheesiest of the cheesy. You click on the Google search result, excited, anticipating, ready to gain knowledge — and you’re faced with a plea to install that site’s app that covers your entire screen and forces you to find the tiny “X” to close out of the thing and move on with your life. Hate that? You might see it less often, as Google says sites that use those full-page app install ads will soon not be considered “mobile-friendly” sites.

In April, some website owners had to figure out how to adjust quickly when Google’s algorithm started favoring sites that opened easily and smoothly on mobile devices — sites with pages that automatically resize to fit the screen, with large text and easily clickable links — and then bestowed higher rankings on those mobile-friendly sites.

Google has added another requirement for sites that want to rise higher in search results, announcing Tuesday that as of Nov. 1, sites that use those annoying app install overlays or pages will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.

“…sometimes a user may tap on a search result on a mobile device and see an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content and prompts the user to install an app,” a post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog reads. “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.”

This doesn’t affect other kinds of interstitials, the post explains. Instead of app install interstitials, there are other ways to promote apps that don’t get in the way of what people are searching for, Google notes: Both Safari and Chrome support app install banners, which simply pop up at the top of a page and still allow users to see the page they’re viewing without having to take any action.

In July, Google made another push for sites to become more mobile-friendly, by adding alerts to mobile search results when sites use Flash, which is not now and never has been supported on iOS devices.

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