Goodbye Obtrusive App Interstitials

3rd Sep 2015

From November 1st 2015 Google will be classing any web page that shows large app interstitials over content as not mobile friendly. This means those websites which want to highlight their app download may need to change how they promote it to their visitors.

Another month, another highlight of the importance of mobile website usability in Google’s mobile search.

What are app interstitials?

Pinterest App InterstitialIf you’re not sure what they are, App interstitials are the popups that promote a website’s app when you visit on a mobile device. For example, at this precise moment (they may change it pretty soon), Pinterest has an app interstitial that takes over the whole screen, as you can see pictured. To see it for yourself visit Pinterest on a mobile device.

Pinterest App Interstitial

Why the change to app interstitials on mobile search?

Some of the interstitials used can be annoying, especially if you already have the app and just want to use the website, and this is what Google is trying to address.

For some websites it can obviously make sense to push users to use an app rather than the site itself because it can provide more functionality, better usability or just generally be faster. But that’s not always the case and surely it’s up to the user to decide how they want to interact?

What can I do to highlight my app on my website without an app interstitial?

There are now ways to promote an app in-browser and that’s where Google is trying to push webmasters and site owners. For Chrome there are Native App Install Banners and for Safari there are Smart Banners.

From the November deadline Google will only penalising those sites which use an interstitial to cover a “significant amount of content” so you can still put in place your own custom-designed banners as long as they don’t take up a significant amount of screen space.

If you want to check how mobile-friendly your website is Google offers the Mobile Friendly Test which will now factor in the app interstitial. If your site isn’t mobile friendly or are concerned about what impact changes to app interstitials has on the promotion of your app, get in touch and see if we can help.