Google has officially begun making pages that serve app interstitials to users coming from the search results as no longer mobile friendly. This means those pages lose both the mobile friendly tag and associated ranking boost.
Starting today, pages with an app install interstitial that hide a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page won’t be considered mobile-friendly.
It was actually supposed to go live on November 1st – Sunday – but it didn’t go live until Monday, November 2nd.
Sites that are still serving app interstitials seem to be losing their mobile-friendly tags and associated ranking boosts. It will be interesting to watch and see if they notice a drop in traffic and change the app interstitial to an app banner instead.
I am also seeing pages where they are clearly gaming this and are keeping their mobile friendly tags, despite serving “app interstitials”. When you view their site, it appears it is an app interstitial – and some that seemingly leave you with no option but install the app if you want to view the content. This was something Yelp initially tested after the original Google announcement but they switched to an app install banner almost immediately after that.
I have also noticed another site using an “app interstitial” which is actually a huge app ad overlay that leaves just a tiny sliver of the page behind it showing at the very bottom. So it functions almost exactly like an app interstitial, yet these pages still have the mobile friendly tag in the Google search results. And these actually have a worse user experience than the original app interstitials did, which is pretty difficult to achieve.
At Pubcon, I asked Nathan Johns, a Search Quality Analyst from Google, about this issue. He said it was something they would probably be looking at, since it wasn’t providing a good user experience, so hopefully that feedback made it back to the team. It will be worth watching to see if any of these sites lose their mobile friendly tag and boost for their fake app interstitials.
It will be interesting to see how Google handles these kinds of cases where sites are serving up what seems like an app interstitial, but with a much worse user experience.
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