Interstitial Ads: Google Advocates Responsible Use

The days of annoying pop-up and interstitial ads are numbered. At least, that’s what Google is trying to accomplish.

The search engine giant is set to throw down the gauntlet on websites that use pop-up and interstitial ads. The company called out on websites to use these ads responsibly or face lower rankings because of them. Although there is no pressure for websites to remove the ads overnight, those with the best information may still likely appear first even if they contain pop-ups.

Why is Google penalizing websites with too many ads?

The aim of this new move by Google is to provide users with not only informative results but also results that work for them. After all, this has been the thrust of Google’s new search algorithm. In 2014, it boosted the rankings of sites with encryption and did the same last year to responsive websites.

The new changes related to interstitial ads will take effect in January 2017 with websites getting a low rank if their content is not easily accessible.

However, not all pop-ups and overlays will be affected by the new rankings. They need to meet a certain legal requirement such as verifying a user’s age. Likewise, smaller banners at the top of a screen that occupies a “reasonable amount of screen space” is still acceptable. The target of Google in its new drive are overlays that gray out the content underneath that prevents users from reading a website for a few seconds or until you tap a little X to dismiss them.

interstitial ads

Examples of bad placement of interstitial ads

Although the underlying content is still visible on the page and can still be indexed by Google, the content can still be visually obscured by interstitial ads. For most users, this can be a frustrating experience. Pages that use intrusive interstitial ads can deliver a poorer experience to users in contrast to pages where the content is immediately visible.

Here are some examples of improper ad placement:

  • A pop-up ad that covers the main content while the users navigate to a page or while they are browsing the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before they can access the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page resembles a standalone interstitial ad with the main content placd below the fold.

Are there exceptions to this new Google rule?

The following will not be affected by the new campaign:

  • Interstitial ads that respond to a legal obligation such as for using cookies or verifying age
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not available for public indexing
  • Banners that take up a reasonable amount of screen space and can be easily dismissed


The new move by Google may seem like unwelcome news for website owners. The proposed change is likely to take away either visitors or ad revenue. It’s really not a surprise if you begin to think whether Google is trying to police the ad placement or not.

Then again, before you panic, you can still get a high search engine ranking even if you have interstitial ads on your site. As long as you have relevant and high-quality content, you have really nothing to worry about.

Bottom line, these new changes should be able to make a difference in the long run, especially in terms of user experience.