As promised back in the summer, Google is now penalizing some sites with pop-ups, those annoying ads or requests for newsletter sign-ups.
Well, penalizing in search result pages – on mobile search requests – websites which automatically launch a pop-up upon landing. In other words, your website won’t get ranked very well (on the front page) of any search result if it’s programmed to pop-up to new visitors that box which overwhelms any mobile screen with some type of ad or invitation or otherwise, “get out of the way, will ya, I’m trying to read this,” kind of mobile face slap.
Google started rolling out the penalty last week after warning back in August it would be in place by January.
The penalty in search result pages (SERPs) is only in place for mobile searches, not desktop (at least, not yet) and doesn’t affect pop-ups that might also be in place as users travel to other pages on one’s website.
The noun, “interstice,” while rarely used but great for Scrabble, describes a very narrow space between two solid objects, such as two walls or, more commonly, between two masses of skin or organ tissue in the human body. So, yea, we can think of pop-ups as being that slim space between user and content on a smartphone screen. Um, we guess.
“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible,” explains Google, citing the obvious. “This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.
“Although the majority of (mobile) pages now have text and content on the page that is readable without zooming, we’ve recently seen many examples where these pages show intrusive interstitials to users. While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result.”
Just the other day I was complaining, “Ugh! The content on this page is obscured by an interstitial!”
Google graciously provides examples of, um, pop-ups which if continued to be used will condemn mobile pages to the very lowest ranks of search result pages (SERPs):
- 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.
But Google will continue to allow some types of pop-ups:
- Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
RAISR trims photo size
One of the biggest sucks of data, particularly important on the mobile web, is of course photos and videos. Lots of bandwidth is used to bring images to your smartphone.
But Google has started deploying a new technology which will reduced the size of images while still preserving the quality of those images.
RAISR – Rapid and Accurate Super Image Resolution – is a machine-learning technique beginning to roll out to some digital spaces, including some Android devices (not yet sure which ones) but mostly only available so far to images posted to Google+.
“RAISR produces results that are comparable to or better than the currently available super-resolution methods, and does so roughly 10 to 100 times faster, allowing it to be run on a typical mobile device in real-time,” explains Google. “Furthermore, our technique is able to avoid recreating the aliasing artifacts that may exist in the lower resolution image.”
Google claims RAISR trims as much as 75 percent of the bandwidth for images to which it’s applied.
And, yea, for right now only on Google+. But the future seems clear.
“While we’ve only begun to roll this out for high-resolution images when they appear in the streams of a subset of Android devices, we’re already applying RAISR to more than 1 billion images per week, reducing these users’ total bandwidth by about a third. In the coming weeks we plan to roll this technology out more broadly — and we’re excited to see what further time and data savings we can offer,” Google promises.