More and more these days, mobile websites will pop up a prompt to download an app associated with the site. This “app install interstitial” hides most of the actual web page and bugs users to essentially stop browsing the web and head to an app store and install an app. App install prompts suck.
“Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience,” Google asserts in a new blog post, “and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page.”
As of Tuesday, web masters can use Google’s updated Mobile-Friendly Test page or Google’s mobile usability tools to find out if they have any offending pages.
As of November 1, however, any mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides content on the actual web site a search query has sent a user to will no longer be considered by Google as mobile-friendly.
“This does not affect other types of interstitials,” says Google. “As an alternative to app install interstitials, browsers provide ways to promote an app that are more user-friendly.”
The key here is how big the app install interstitial is, and if it hides a large amount of info behind it. Google points out that both Safari and Chrome support app install banners that do not block content, Smart Banners and Native App Install Banners, respectively.
“Banners provide a consistent user interface for promoting an app,” says Google, “and provide the user with the ability to control their browsing experience.”
Interestingly, Google itself is guilty of these types of interstitials, as pointed out by Mike Dudas over on Twitter.
A sampling of Google's own full-page mobile app install interstitials. pic.twitter.com/whYRprLTUo
— Mike Dudas (@mdudas) September 1, 2015
Let’s hope the Goog will remove it’s own interstitials before November 1.