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Pulling My Hair Out On Google And Demoting Pages With Interstitials


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 12:07 PM

Has anyone been getting push back from clients who don't want their pop up content removed?

 

I am.  

 

One client just out refuses to do anything "just because Google says so" and while I agree, it's my job to make sure my clients are informed of any ramifications of their decisions from both a search engine perspective as well as user experience and conversions one. However, some of the information Google provides is vague and confusing.

 

From a UX perspective, removing ANY content that prevents users from seeing anything on a page is the user friendly choice, regardless of the device. I do get push back on that, even when I recommend they add an "X" for the user to exit the popup or tab to move it out their way.

 

 

According to Google, the new rule applies to mobile searches only. Does this mean interstitials can remain on the pages but not be served when the user is using a mobile device? 

 

What if they are not arriving to the site from Google search from their cell phone, for example, and typing in the URL directly?

 
Mobile traffic only

Google is only applying this change to mobile searches only.  So you can still use interstitials on desktop without issue unless you have a desktop-only site.  In those cases, because the desktop version is the mobile version, expect those pages to not rank as highly.

 

 

How do you code for this?

 

 
Only clicks from Google count

Sites can still use popups and mobile interstitials for the second page view from a Google referral.  Google only looks at the page as a searcher sees it when they arrive from Google for their first pageview.  Likewise, if a searcher arrives from another non-Google traffic source, then site owners are free to show interstitials and popups to that traffic on the first pageview.

 

 

 

 

Info:

 

Google’s Mobile Interstitial Demotion Updates When Page Recrawled
Google launched their mobile interstitial and popup demotion earlier this month which would see sites with interstitials and obtrusive popups receive a demotion in the mobile search results.  If you need to remove them, the demotion in the search results will not be removed until after Googlebot has crawled each individual page again.

 

 



#2 bobbb

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 01:43 PM

What I've seen on other sites is a time delay interstitial or maybe it waits for me to scroll a bit. Would that qualify for their penalty??

 

What if they are not arriving to the site from Google search from their cell phone, for example, and typing in the URL directly?

Really? How many people have you seen type in the URL directly on a cell phone?

 

Maybe an idea is for their pop-up to slide in and not block the page view as in the cookie thing you see from EU sites.

G accepts the cookie thing as "legal".

 

Ah wait! I was thinking desktop for the cookie thing.


Edited by bobbb, 25 January 2017 - 01:52 PM.


#3 jonbey

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 04:31 PM

The first question would be, is it on all pages, or just some? Then, are they getting organic search traffic from mobile, or is it coming from social, email, referrals, directories etc.? And then, how important to their business model? 

 

So many companies use the website to get leads - if people don't see the popup form, there is little point in having them there at all. It's good there is push back - it should mean that the clients know their website appeals to their target market.

 

No point removing anything unless you can demonstrate how it will benefit a business financially - just saying that it makes for a better mobile UX is not going to cut it!



#4 iamlost

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 10:26 PM

Starting with the basics:
An interstitial (aka child/daughter/parent/pop-up window, inter/extra-mercial, splash screen, transitional !!!) is an ad/page that loads in the time/space between a page being requested and actually loading.
Note: because most interstitials these days are supplied by third parties they often appear to load after and on top of the requested page. Ad lag is a real thang.
Note: the ad lag mentioned above greatly acerbates the viewers historic impression that the interstitial is actually slowing the loading of the requested page.

Besides the very great annoyance factor the CTR aka response rate of interstitials is typically similar to that of banner ads; actually an argument can be made that they are simply larger to much larger variations of banner ads. As such they are usually considered only worthwhile for 'branding' purposes. Which means that the benefits of a positive 'branding' attempt should be carefully weighed against a negative irritation 'brand' experience.

As to why Google is against interstitials before/on top of the first page of mobile visitors and not desktop?
Hello, Google Surveys!
A less facetious answer is that desktops, on average, over the same connection render the page sooner than mobile. Plus some other stuff.

As to why Google is against interstitials before the first page served to mobile visitors and not before subsequent pages?
IMO, the ad lag mentioned above. Having an ad appearing to render on top of the landing page probably (in my testing most definitely) induces more back button or tab closing actions than benefit.
Note: just as with lag in rendering the ad there is a similar lag in a click on the ad close/X button that immensely exacerbates the irritation.

Once the visitor is where they initially meant to arrive - and where Google search sent them - Google really doesn't much care about subsequent experience. So an interstitial between the first and second page view may still be a pita to the visitor but is not very important from Google's perspective.

All of which brings us to each site's business/marketing models and requirements to fulfil those.
In summary:
* if the purpose of the interstitial is to garner a response aka click then it probably is neither very efficient nor very effective.
Note: an A/B test (with/without) could be done to confirm visitor behaviour/value.

* if the purpose of the interstitial is to promote branding then that benefit may need to be weighed against potential irritation felt by those exposed.
How many click the close button (or wait for time expiry, if that exists) and how many leave instead?
Note: an A/B test (with/without) could be done to to confirm page views/conversion rate with and without the interstitial.

* one could experiment with placing the interstitial between request and delivery (hopefully) of the first page, first and second, second and third... (what one tests would depend on typical number of page views)
---one could also test different types/sizes of interstitials.

Penultimate Note: most interstitials are simply ads for others with the purpose of generating revenue. One question that needs to be asked is whether showing first produces more revenue than showing later; if a site has not tested as mentioned above they have no way to know. Another is what effect interstitials in whatever showing location might have on other revenue sources within the site, i.e. do they eliminate so many visitors that other ads/aff links produce poorly due to minimised traffic?

Final Note: given Google's stated position on the matter an immediate question to be considered is what percentage of traffic to the site is referred by Google. And the consequences if that traffic stops.

 

After thought: a popular site (I'm thinking of some of the celebrity tabloids, sports sites) that sells it's interstitial as CPM (jacked on it's bot inflated visitor numbers) rather than CTR may not care all the way to the bank. Depending on whether they are too big for G to ignore of course.
 



#5 cre8pc

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 11:17 AM

Really? How many people have you seen type in the URL directly on a cell phone?

 

I do it all the time. I'm one of those odd balls who doesn't talk to my phone, use voice search or a search engine directly.   It's a user behavior I need to consider for specific target users and personas.

 

The first question would be, is it on all pages, or just some?

 

All.

 

Example:  Live Chat. It never goes away. In a client call I demonstrated to the site owner that when we chatted, (I chatted with his app and he responded), I considered the task done and wanted the Live Chat tab to go away for good. It doesn't. It follows the user wherever they go.  Not only that, it changes spots, so it is on the side or bottom by the footer.  On my cell phone this is obnoxious. 

 

Example: Get Quote. Websites that  have a tab on the side or bottom on a mobile layout that is a CTA for a quote is one of my other questions.  Again, on a site I tested the tab doesn't have an "x" to hide it, and it follows the user around the site wherever they go. On a cell phone screen, the tab covers up content. 

 

it should mean that the clients know their website appeals to their target market

 

 

If they are on my doorstep, their site is not converting.  Most, if not all, site audits I do are for site owners who have no understanding of UX or conversions design.  

 

* if the purpose of the interstitial is to garner a response aka click then it probably is neither very efficient nor very effective.

 

 

A CTA button placed at the moment the user is persuaded to take an action is my recommendation. 

 

The sites I'm wrestling with don't have ads. 

 

It's about  “intrusive interstitials”  

 

And the lack of clarity.  I've been following John Mu's answers to questions on this and there are vague areas, such as size.

 

According to this article (Bill Slawkski credit for aiding me privately here), I'm not even dealing with interstitials, right?  I'm dealing with tabs that appear on the sides or bottom used for CTA. They cover up content and don't allow users to hide them. Bad enough on desktop but on mobile, impossible to deal with.

 

I don't think they count for the Google demotion but I want to be sure.

 

 

Google explained which types of interstitials are going to be problematic, including:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

 

  •  


#6 bobbb

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 11:32 AM

I do it all the time. I'm one of those odd balls who doesn't talk to my phone

Then you are part of the rare exceptions
 

If they are on my doorstep, their site is not converting. 

Like this.   :D You don't visit the doctor when all is fine.
 

 

Google explained which types of interstitials are going to be problematic

In the About page-level ads in the Optimisation/Opportunities section of adsense

Anchor/overlay ads are mobile ads that stick to the edge of the user's screen and are easily dismissible.

Vignette ads are mobile full-screen ads that appear between page loads on your website and can be skipped by users at any time.
They're displayed when the user leaves a page, rather than when they arrive on one, so that the user doesn't have to wait for them to load.

Wow! Very close to interstitials other people are doing that they are trying to penalise.

Vignette get loaded when the user leaves a page. Is that not like before the next page loads. Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results

 

OK so it is not after search results.


Edited by bobbb, 26 January 2017 - 11:58 AM.




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