How To Benefit From Google’s Interstitial Rule

January 9, 2017By
Guy Reading Phone Drinking Coffee

Online publications are about to pay a price for interstitials.

Have you ever been frustrated when visiting a website on your phone?

It seems like we all have. It’s kind of ridiculous in some cases.

A number of publications are incredibly bloated with ads. Users have responded by using ad blockers. In other cases, users have simply stopped using formerly popular offline and online publications and are now looking for alternative sources of content.

In fact, one study in the UK found that people are starting to trust bloggers more than journalists. A reason for that could be that as more people view content online that online newspapers inundate them with too many ads.

Blog traffic is rising although blogs have to watch themselves too…

It’s not appealing to click a link, whether from Google or Facebook or wherever, and arrive on a site and immediately see some kind of intrusive ad.

Google & Interstitials

An interstitial is something that gets in between.

In the online world, an interstitial is usually some kind of ad or distraction between the user and the content they want to view.

You’ve seen them. You’ve probably been annoyed by them:

  • Popups
  • Banners
  • Signup Forms
  • Surveys
  • Spam

Starting tomorrow, Google is cracking down on interstitials.

This post is from August so it’s not like Google hasn’t given notice. But if you’ve been cruising around the web on your phone lately you know that interstitials are probably more common than ever.

Hopefully this change from Google will help, but you know that some will try to get around it without really thinking about what’s best for their audience.

The basic goal of Google is to help their users find the content they’re looking for. If a website has great content, the kind users seek, then it will do well.

However, if websites have great content, but put ads or whatever in between users and that content then Google will look for better sources of information that doesn’t come with interstitials.

If you’re looking at this correctly then you know that this is an opportunity…

Content On Your Website

Something that’s been a constant when it comes to Google and really with all online traffic is that what’s best for the user is best for Google and is best for you, the owner of the website.

That means always doing what’s best for the audience.

Yet some still focus on tricking Google.

An example I still see is website owners thinking that they need to stuff their website with keywords. Look, I’m a fan of keywords. If you understand what your audience is searching for you can learn more about the type of content you need to create.

But if you start thinking that you need to mention a keyword a certain number of times or put it here or put it there then you’re drifting into murky waters. That’s getting more into trying to please Google instead of trying to please visitors.

Anyway, getting back to what’s best for the user and interstitials…

When users click on a link they want to see the content they expect.

Let’s say that someone opens Google and searches for: “When do the Patriots play this weekend”.

They click on the first result. They expect to see the answer to their question.

But it’s far too common today for the result to instead be something like an ad or an email signup form or a video that autoplays or any number of interstitials.

You know how frustrating that is.

It’s frustrating. It’s annoying and it’s really untrustworthy. People don’t like feeling trapped. They don’t like being had.

While many websites are using interstitials it’s an opportunity for other websites that not only avoid interstitials, but also avoid anything else that makes the experience unpleasant for visitors.

Some Mobile Site Best Practices

  • Fast
  • Clear Headings
  • Clear Goal, Path To That Goal
  • No (or minimal) Distractions
  • No Trapping
  • Watch Dropdown Menus

If you want to take advantage of the interstitial change then working on the best experience possible for the user is the way to go.

Think about the best experiences you’ve had visiting websites on your phone. The site loads fast. You instantly know that you’re in the right place because there is a clear title or heading at the top.

There are no distractions. There is nothing making you feel trapped.

One thing I added here is the dropdown menu. That’s not as much of an issue on mobile, but it still is on desktop. Many times when a user clicks on a website their cursor is near the address bar. They have to bring the cursor down to the content on the page and on the way the cursor goes across the top navigation that triggers a huge dropdown menu that covers the main content.

Watch for that one.

Final Thoughts

We all know that what’s best for the user is best for everyone online. But it’s easy to forget about that when we have budgets to meet and revenue to earn.

Interstitials have been a way for websites to increase ad revenue, subscribers and more. But when things got taken too far users got fed up and it’s forced Google to take action.

It’s a good thing that Google is cracking down on interstitials and if you’re prepared you can remove them from your site and be more appealing than other sites on the web. You’ll be more appealing to Google, but even more importantly you’ll be appealing to people.

And it’s not just interstitials. This is about the entire user experience on your website. The better you make it for the user the more they’ll want to visit your site.