New Google Restrictions on the Usage of Intrusive Mobile Content-Covering Ads
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SEPTEMBER 2016

It’s no secret that most people find pop-ads intrusive and annoying. Imagine that you only have a few seconds to scan a text fragment on a certain website, and have to close multiple pop-ups to be able to retrieve the piece of information that you’re desperately looking for. In all honestly, pop-up ads can get on your nerves, especially when the online search is done using an Internet-enabled gadget with a so-tiny-I-can’t-see-without-my-glasses screen.

What Does Google Have to Say about Those Exasperating Pop-ups?

If you are also bothered by this issue, we have good news for you and every other mobile user who thinks that intrusive advertisements are lowering the quality of his or her overall web navigation experience. Google plans to solve this problem in the near future: in a recent post, they have announced that starting January 10, 2017, pages comprising content featuring pop-ups that make it difficult for users to access website information may no longer rank as highly as they do today. This important change is expected to improve the quality of the user experience, and favor websites that offer easy access to valuable onsite information, instead of using aggressive advertisements to cover it up.

Even when the content displayed by a website is relevant and tailored to the reader’s intent, needs and demands, the fact that its core is entirely or partially covered by an interstitial can frustrate most visitors, who will be unable to visualize and assimilate the ideas that they were looking for in the first place, when they clicked on that particular search result.

Google firmly believes that intrusive, annoying ads can affect the way in which one interacts with any webpage using a mobile device- and they are not wrong. Just think about how many times you were forced to read the more or less relevant message displayed by interstitials taking up almost the entire display, while desperately trying to find and hit the “X” button to make them go away and get a step closer to the specific information that made you land on that page to begin with. Starting January, 2017, chances are that you will no longer have to worry about this impediment. The punitive measure announced by Google will most likely compel webmasters to opt for less intrusive advertisements, and ultimately turn content-obscuring pop-ups into a thing of the past.

Is It Time to Change Strategy?

So assuming that you are a webmaster looking for ways to promote a certain product or service via your onsite content while also staying friends with Google, what approach should you embrace to make all this happen? Google is kind enough to shed some light on this matter. In theory, if you care about your rankings-which we’re sure you do! – you should avoid using intrusive interstitials that make your information less accessible.

This category includes ads that cover the content that users see as soon as they click on a page or as they browse through the website, and also standalone interstitials that have to be closed before accessing the content. Luckily for webmasters who are afraid of Google’s wind of change, certain types of advertisements are still considered harmless and perfectly acceptable, and thus, won’t trigger any punitive actions.

For instance, featuring interstitials in connection with age verification or cookie usage is a legitimate practice. The same goes for login dialogues displayed on websites with content that isn’t publicly indexable, and also for banners that occupy a reasonable amount of space on the mobile screen, and can be easily dismissed. This means that only the most annoying and disruptive ads will be impacted by this new change announced by Google.

How Would This Punitive Measure Affect Users and Content Marketers?

As a matter of fact, Google stated that these punitive steps target solely the ads that make it extremely difficult for users to visualize the desired content, by covering a big part of the mobile screen. This change can be seen as a great method to protect users’ best interest, by facilitating their access to quality information, and eliminating the stress and frustration that most of us experience after landing on a page with ad-covered content and aggressive pop-ups that are difficult to dismiss.

At the same time, this measure favors websites that see the overall user experience as an absolute priority, and poses new challenges for webmasters who still make use of annoying advertisements that overshadow the relevant, useful information they provide for their readers. So how is this new strategy expected to impact the work and bottom line of providers of quality content writing services?

While some content marketers see Google’s announcement as a threat, considering that this change would most likely decrease their publishing revenues, the best specialists in this field will inevitably come up with new, Google-friendly ways to boost their profits and serve their clients’ best interests without affecting the quality of the mobile user experience.

“This measure favors websites that see the overall user experience as an absolute priority, and poses new challenges for webmasters who still make use of annoying advertisements that overshadow the relevant, useful information they provide for their readers .”

What Can You Do about It?

As Hubspot points out, this new set of limitations set in place by Google could be a great opportunity for marketers to reanalyze the needs, habits and expectations of mobile users, and focus on finding alternative revenue methods based on elements that have nothing to do with aggressive ads- like using embedded forms and more compelling calls-to-action, for instance.

At the end of the day, your number one goal should be to make money without affecting website navigation, and preferably in a way that will also allow you to optimize your website for mobile. What do you think about Google’s recent announcement and how do you plan to face all the necessary changes? Let us know in a comment below.

Alecs Ianko

Content Marketing Expert

Alecs is an experienced content marketer and content sales specialist, with years of relevant work in the field. She started her writing career as a politics and social journalist. An English- Chinese graduate, she has covered foreign affairs and culture, as well as other journalistic areas. Her next challenge was covering the client connection part of the Business Breakthrough International’s Search Engine Marketing Department. Working with various business owners throughout the US, giving them SEO tips for their content, providing editing, title-work and various other SEO jobs for the clients’ online marketing campaigns has been a constant reminder that, even if most of the online work is done face to face with a computer, the human element is still the most important factor.

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