Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy
We’re getting closer to the day when we no longer separate or distinguish traffic by device type—when the word “mobile” as an adjective becomes a thing of the past. Google has been and continues to push forward changes intended to enhance the mobile user experience; consequently, it has become the standard for many web designers to take a “mobile-first” design approach. This week’s announcements are not likely a big surprise to most, but as digital marketers, we do need to take note of them.
First, and most importantly, Google officially published that in January 2017 they will begin evaluating popups and interstitials (aka “interrupters”) to determine whether or not they are too obtrusive to the user experience. If they determine interstitials are in fact too obtrusive, the website will not rank as highly. There are still ways to do interstitials, but it will need to be carefully executed to ensure the mitigation of risk. This is not a blanket statement or policy against popups and interstitials, but one that is focused directly on user experience. There are many tactics for utilizing them that sites currently employ that will not be impacted by this update as they don’t pop up until multiple pages have been visited or after a long enough delay, so as not to negatively impact the initial experience after landing on a mobile page from search results. Note that Google will be looking for this when indexing pages and judging the experience of users coming from a search results page.
We know that the initial experience for a user is important to Google (and should be important to us as well as webmasters), as Google does factor page load times into search rankings. There have also been debates in the past about Google’s use of stats on users bouncing back to the search results page quickly after clicking on a result as a negative factor for rankings (I won’t get into the heated SEO debate on that in this article).
The second and less significant update posted by Google this week is encouraging. With the “Mobilegeddon” event being far enough into the past, Google is now going to remove the “mobile-friendly” tag from mobile search results, as nearly 85% of sites qualify. This is a minor move and continued evolution of mobile becoming the norm in search results.
To read Google’s full announcement, click here.
If you missed my article last week about the significant Google AdWords change to text ad formats (also driven by mobile usage), you can read about that topic here.