Google has announced two new changes to mobile search results that will make finding content easier for users. Google will remove its mobile-friendly label, launched two years ago. The label helped users find pages where the text and content was readable without zooming. The search giant is removing the feature after most sites have now been optimised to meet the ‘mobile-friendly’ criteria. “To keep search results uncluttered, we’ll be removing the label, although the mobile-friendly criteria will continue to be a ranking signal,” said Doantam Phan, Product Manager at Google.
Next, Google will punish mobile pages that will show intrusive interstitials and rank them low in mobile search results. The change will roll out starting January 10, 2017. Google says majority of pages now have text and content on the page that is readable without zooming, but there still are many examples where these pages show intrusive interstitials to users. “Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible,” said Phan, adding that this can be problematic on mobile devices with smaller screens.
According to Phan, following are the techniques that make content less accessible to a user:
• Showing a popup that covers the main content.
• A standalone interstitial that needs to be dismissed 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.
Phan also put out examples of techniques that would not be affected by the new signal:
• Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation.
• Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible.
Google has removed the check for app-install interstitials from the mobile-friendly test to avoid duplication in signals. “Remember, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content,” Phan said.