The initial mobile friendly algorithm was simply a “yes, this page is mobile friendly” or “no, this page is not mobile friendly”, and if it was “yes”, they got the boost along with the “Mobile-friendly” tag we see in the mobile search results.
Interstitials are wildly popular with many websites with apps, but many searchers despise them. It means that when they see a site in the Google search results and click it, instead of seeing the webpage as expected, searchers are instead redirected to an app interstitial to try and force the users to download the app – or worse, it will then open up the app automatically in the App store for whichever mobile OS it is. In order for the user to see the webpage they wanted, they have to close the app interstitial – or worse, close the app store then maximize the browser window once more – before they can see the webpage.
Depending on how Google implemented it, sites which hijack the searcher with the use of an App interstitial could be either slightly demoted or lose it’s mobile-friendly tag and subsequent mobile-friendly boost.
Page Speed is a bit more self-explanatory, but could be more complicated for webmasters to fix. Obviously it isn’t a good user experience for anyone if a mobile site takes longer than usual to load. However, sites that are slower than average could see it affect their mobile rankings.
To test your mobile page speed, you can use Google’s page speed tool here, which will also include details on desktop site speed as well, but often many of the problems are the same on both desktop and mobile, unless you are using an m.example.com version of your mobile site.
On the positive side, Google does offer plenty of resources to help webmasters get their site speed down, even including a tool that will optimize your website for speed.
Gary Illyes brought it up at SMX Sydney, and strongly hinted that page speed “will probably become part of the mobile friendly signal group”, although it is currently not being used.
— DEJAN (@dejanseo) May 12, 2015
Google has dropped plenty of hints that this will be coming previously though, so many webmasters have started to look at page speeds for their mobile pages already.
@jenstar yet 😉
— Gary Illyes (@methode) April 10, 2015
— Gary Illyes (@methode) May 6, 2015
And about interstitials for apps when you attempt to visit a webpage.
@jenstar I don't have a public safe comment for those. Yet 😉
— Gary Illyes (@methode) April 14, 2015
And John Mueller also hinted around about it in the last Google Webmaster Hangout. The only thing we don’t know is when these might come into play with the mobile friendly algo, and whether we will get a warning of a date they will take affect or not.
It isn’t surprising that Google is considering a move in this direction, especially because many of us see ways that it could be improved from a user experience perspective. App interstitials are my #1 mobile search annoyance, with sites that redirect all mobile traffic to the homepage instead of a mobile version of the page I wanted – or even the desktop version of the page I wanted, coming in at a close second.
So especially if you are using interstitials, make sure it is easy to turn them off. And likewise, because page speed can sometimes be a result of multiple issues, if you know your mobile page speed is higher than you’d like, you should begin work on that as well.
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