Google’s new search algorithm changes take place today – will you be affected?
Back in August, Google announced big changes coming to its search algorithm. Starting on January 10, 2017, the use of interstitials will play a factor in ranking websites. The reason? More and more people are accessing Google on smartphones now.
What’s an interstitial, you ask?
The word interstice means “a space between things or events” … like a crack in the wall where the ivy starts growing through … or spaces between biological cells or organs. In the digital world, interstitials are web elements that appear between things or events – like pop-ups you have to click before reading a page.
Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report for KPCB shows the average US mobile user in the US now spending an average of 5 hours per day using mostly 3 apps – Chrome, Facebook, and YouTube.
Data from the 2015 report shows 51% of users accessing digital media on mobile. That now surpasses the 49% on desktop. Pop-ups and other unwanted interstitials block users from quick access to the data they’re searching for.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page have worked to provide the highest quality search results possible. Their earliest goals included making research more efficient. In one of their papers, they wrote:
“The biggest problem facing users of web search engines today is the quality of the results they get back. While the results are often amusing and expand users’ horizons, they are often frustrating and consume precious time. For example, the top result for a search for “Bill Clinton” on one of the most popular commercial search engines was the Bill Clinton Joke of the Day: April 14, 1997.”
As the amount of information on the Web continues to skyrocket, Google continues making the process seamless. The idea? They’re making searches so natural and easy. Users find the information they want without being fully aware of the process itself.
The new change moves us toward creating a seamless path to information.
When that path is abruptly stopped by something, users experience frustration. Google wants you to have a pleasant, satisfying experience on the web.
How Will Google’s New Search Algorithm Affect Your Website?
If you have any of the following, your ranking could be penalized:
- A modal pop-up that appears when mobile visitors arrive at or are reading your web page Looks like I may have to test this one …
- A stand-alone window that readers must X out before they can read what they searched for
- Pages with the equivalent of a landing page taking up the entire area above the fold and forcing users to scroll down to read the primary text.
There are several exceptions to the rule. Your rankings won’t be affected if your pop-ups or interstitials satisfy legal requirements or are user initiated:
- Cookie notifications
- Age requirement notifications
- Small pop-ups that only take up a small amount of space and don’t block significant content.
Google’s Continued Attention to Mobile Trends
Back in 2014, Google announced it would designate mobile friendly websites in search results. Although they later dropped labeling, mobile friendliness still plays a role in ranking. If you have interstitials or any other elements that can affect mobile performance, now is the time to make adjustments before the crawlers get to you.
To see how your site performs on mobile, test it on a variety of devices and use Google’s automated tools. Access Google’s Webmaster Tools for a mobile usability report. You can also type any website address into their mobile-friendly test for general results.
To find out more about what you can do for a mobile friendly site ranking, check out Google’s handy guide here: Mobile SEO Overview.
And remember – if you want to save hours of time, get more leads and conversions, and increase your ROI with customer-centered copy, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my contact page.
P.S. If your pop-ups are only on desktop and not on mobile, you should be in the clear. Check out this helpful post from Optin Monster for more details and solutions.