Google to Penalize Mobile Sites With Annoying App Install Ads

15347555878_efa364253d_hYou know, I know, and 69% of Google’s survey group knows that there’s nothing more annoying than being pestered to install a site’s app just because you happen to be on a mobile device. And finally Google is going to do something about it.

Google announced today that it will soon start downranking sites that throw up a full page advert and prompt you to install a mobile app whenever you visit from a mobile device. According to a post on the Webmaster Central blog, Google’s mobile-friendly test will soon tell you whether a site should avoid app install interstitials.

After 1 November, any page that shows an interstitial that “hides a significant amount of content” from a search engine visitor will no longer be considered mobile-friendly. As a result, they will likely rank lower in Google’s search results.

Alas, this new mobile-friendly rule will not apply to all throw up ads; an interstitial that prompts you to join a mailing list, or one that shows you a paid advert, is still okay under Google’s rules. Also, Google will not penalize sites that push their mobile apps with a smaller nag banner, so this is at best a partial solution to the harassment.

On a related note, it’s not clear whether Google is going to penalize its own sites for breaking this rule, or if Google will stop prompting mobile users about installing its apps. Gmail, for example, pestered me just now about using the Inbox app on my iPad (I prefer Gmail in Safari).

Between penalizing sites for load times and for not being usable on small screens, Google has done a lot to make the web easier to use on a small screen. But if it pushes through on this without also cleaning up its own house, Google will have fallen into the “do as I say, not as I do” trap.

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Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Geoffrey Kidd1 September, 2015

    When is Google going to stop doing it themselves? When I log on (in Chrome for iOS, no less!) to check my email, the FIRST thing I see is a suggestion that I install the gMail app on my phone. “Do as I say, not as I do?” has been added to “Don’t be evil.”??

  2. Sheogorath1 September, 2015

    Gmail, for example, pestered me just now about using the Inbox app on my iPad (I prefer Gmail in Safari).
    They’ve never bugged me about it, probably because I’ve got bookmarked in preference to using the crippled site. ;D

  3. Michael2 September, 2015

    Not surprising since they’ve been pushing devs to switch to Google’s officially sanctioned means of annoying mobile visitors.

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