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21

Apr 2015

Google’s Mobile Update, is this the Time to Say Goodbye to Interstitial Pages?

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With the recent mobile update, one thing is for certain, Google will go any extra steps to demote a site that don’t provide a decent search experience on a mobile device. That means any website’s element, be it a pop-up, non-responsive design, unresponsive buttons, slow speed, or anything that makes the website unusable or irrelevant, hampering a user’s browsing experience on a mobile device can get it penalized.

One of the persistent annoyance for smartphone users, nowadays, while browsing the web is interstitial pages, a website element that not only harms a website’s credibility but also the user’s experience.

What are interstitial pages?

An interstitial is an interim page devoted to make the user to do a particular action. Nowadays, it is a common practice to encourage app installs.

The problem is it has become a common phenomenon for a mobile website to send a user to an interstitial page before sending them to the desired piece of content. Not many users are happy with such interim pages.

How it hampers user’s experience?

What do you expect after clicking on a relevant search result on Google? Reading the context or watching a large window covering your mobile’s whole screen, promoting you to download an app. Well if the latter irritates you then you’re in same shoes as Google. Although Google has never mentioned interstitial pages in its blog posts, but isn’t it obvious that they are after any such elements that abstains a website of a clean and simple experience. The experience to get what they came looking for. Google is a very end users conscious company, and if the user doesn’t land where he is intended to land with its search engine, he is only going to blame Google. With the emergence of Bing as a potential search engine, search engine market is no more a one man’s show. And if Google will not evolve to offer the same kind of experience to its mobile users as to other users, users are only going to switch.

Interstitial Bounce vs normal bounces

Let’s us keep Google as a company beside and talk about its user and their course of action in case of encountering an interstitial page. A case of interstitial bounce is simple:

bounce-rate

“A user doesn’t see what he was looking for after clicking the first search result (rather he sees a interstitial page), as a natural response he will hit the back button and look for other results, leading to a Interstitial Bounce”

Google expects the first result to be the most credible source. Like the user, Google too hates when the most credible source betrays. Consequently, this best source after encountering a number of short clicks will make Google to demote its ranking.

On the other hand, the normal bounce rates are much better. At least the user lands on the destination and only bounces back when he don’t find the information relevant enough. Those bounces are users generated, based on their personal taste, and are tolerable to an extent. But not Interstitial Bounces, they are ugly; they simply betray the users by landing them in a completely different page to what promised by a search engine.

Install rates will surge for sure, but what about the search experience, isn’t it destroyed. For example, if your bounce rate before applying an interstitial element was 50% and after applying them, it jumps to 60%. Then the effective true bounce rate is 80% as merely 20% of the users can get to the proceeding page.

What after April 21

After the Google Mobile Update on April 21, my recommendation is to remove the upsetting interstitial elements from your website, right before. If making people install your app is the whole purpose for your mobile site, then rather than taking the whole screen to project the app, put a small window with an option to install an app on the top. And if you want to implement interstitials no matter what, do some setting as such the user don’t hit an interstitial page when landing on your site using Google Search.

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A passionate, strategy-driven digital marketing professional helping small businesses grow with niche specific, business oriented marketing and branding strategies. Blogs often, lives in and plays with all things digital branding!

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