Google Drops “Mobile-Friendly” Label; Plans New Penalties for “Intrusive Interstitials”

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

For more than a year, Google has been increasing its focus on providing satisfying mobile experiences for people who are searching from a smartphone or tablet. They launched a new algorithm that rewarded mobile friendly pages and even included a label for on mobile search results for mobile friendly pages.

Google isn’t backing away from this push toward mobile. They recently announced several major changes to mobile SEO. First, Google plans to drop the “mobile-friendly” label from search results. However, they will plan to increase penalties for certain unpopular mobile site layouts.

The most pressing news is dropping the “mobile-friendly” label. Many website owners were rightfully annoyed when their sites weren’t listed as mobile-friendly due to some minor design issue that Google decided was vital.

But the fact that they are dropping the label is a sign of the success of their campaign. According to Google, 85 percent of sites are now mobile-friendly by their standards. So the label has become unnecessary. This change has already started to go into effect. So business owners don’t need to worry if their site doesn’t say “mobile-friendly” any more. Google’s mobile friendly tests and tools will still be available.

“We recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and show the mobile-friendly label,” the company wrote in a blog post. “To keep search results uncluttered, we’ll be removing the label, although the mobile-friendly criteria will continue to be a ranking signal.”

The bigger concern is the tougher stance Google is taking on “intrusive interstitials”. Google uses the term “intrusive interstitials” to describe elements on mobile sites that make it harder for people to see the content they were promised in the search results. Google sees “intrusive interstitials” as a sort of bait and switch. Because the people aren’t immediately seeing the content they clicked on in the search results.

According to Google, here are some examples of techniques that make content less accessible to a user:

You can see some examples below:


Google also provided guidance on which practices would be okay under the new plan:

Here are some examples from Google:


The new standards don’t go into effect until January. So website owners have time to get their mobile site in line before they face a penalty.

For more news about changes to Google, read this article on expanded text for PPC ads.


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