Interstitials are pop-up content which will appear once a website has loaded for users. While these can be useful, they may also cause long-term UX issues as well as affect how search engines are able to crawl a website. Within our Hangout Notes we cover best practice recommendations for implementing interstitials, along with insights from Google.

Interstitials Blocked with Robots.txt Might be Seen as Cloaking

May 16, 2017 Source

You can prevent Google from seeing a JavaScript run interstitial by blocking the JavaScript with robots.txt, but Google doesn’t recommend it as it might be seen as cloaking.

Mobile Interstitial Penalty is Calculated on Recrawl

January 24, 2017 Source

The mobile interstitial penalty is calculated in real time as pages are crawled.

Mobile Interstitial Detection Will Improve

January 24, 2017 Source

Google will be improving the interstial classifiers over time as they find more examples, so any interstitials which are not affected yet might become an issue in the future.

Mobile Interstitial Penalty Will Roll Out In Days

January 10, 2017 Source

The Google mobile interstial penalty will roll out to all data centers in the next few days.

Use 503 Status if Serving Pages with a Temporary Interstitial

December 20, 2016 Source

If you are returning a conditional or temporary interstitial or modal window, return a 503 status instead of a 200, and Google will ignore it rather than index the content of the interstitial, and you won’t get an interstitial penalty.

Interstitial Penalty Only Affects Landing Pages

October 18, 2016 Source

The interstitial penalty will only apply to landing pages. Any actions which occur after the landing page visit are OK.

Interstitial Penalty Only Affects Mobile Pages

October 18, 2016 Source

The interstitial penalty will apply just to mobile pages at the moment.

Event Based Interstitials are Not OK

September 9, 2016 Source

Interstitials which appears after JavaScript events, such as scrolling, are still considered unacceptable by Google.

Use Fetch and Render to Test Overlays

February 12, 2016 Source

If you have some kind of overlay or pop-up on landing pages, you can check what it looks like to Googlebot using the Fetch and Render tool in Search Console, and check the impact on engagement using web analytics.

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