Google punishing sites that have intrusive app-install ads

2 Sep 2015

Google has decided to crack down on websites with overly intrusive adverts for apps, downgrading them to that of other sites that are not mobile-friendly.

As a follow-on to April’s algorithm change, which was dedicated to rewarding websites that were mobile-friendly, Google has revealed it will now seek to reign in app-install interstitials that “hide a significant amount of content” when users jump from the search page to the site.

It means that, pretty soon, most sites that use these ads will likely revert to small, slender variants at the top of web pages.

Mobile-friendly sites

This is good, as sites that block what you want are a pain. Sites that don’t, are not.

In the image below it shows what Google doesn’t like (the left duo), and what Google does like (the right duo).

Google mobile-friendly sites

Starting from 1 November, mobile web pages that still use the app ads that Google no longer rates will be downgraded, with the company’s Mobile Friendly Test updated to reflect this.

Google said that these changes are because the larger, intrusive interstitials “is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users”.

It maintains that there are other ways to promote apps, supported on the likes of Safari and Chrome.

There were fears that April’s mobile-friendly changes would prove catastrophic to sites that were not mobile friendly and, perhaps, they were.

But Google’s interest doesn’t lie in satisfying webmasters, rather keeping people happy to browse the web. And, as mobile is quickly becoming king, more changes are probably in the offing.

Not all is as it seems

Although what that means for Google app-install interstitial, we may have to wait and see.

However, some people have called foul. Jeremy Stoppelman, founder of Yelp, has claimed Google is merely trying to take control of the entire app field, as otherwise it risks losing users.

Conflict of interest?

“From our vantage point, it’s clear: A user who downloads an app is a user who’s less likely to perform a Google search in the future,” he said.

Stoppelman noted that once people install the Yelp app they are far less likely to Google-search local businesses. The same can be true of things like JustEat or Redfin.

The premise behind Google’s decision is an analysis of a study into Google+, of which Stoppelman is critical. The problem for Stoppelman is that Google can pretty much do what it wants in this instance.

Webmasters, largely speaking, are simply going to have to tow the line.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic