Google Is Picking A Fight With Pop Ups And Annoying Ads

Don’t you just hate the sites that feature pop up ads. You just want to click on a video clip and suddenly pop ups crowd your screen. Those of us without an ad blocker or sometimes even with one face this problem on a daily basis. Granted, these sites are only doing this to generate revenue but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Google’s fix for this problem is to play nanny. Google plans to downgrade sites that feature pop ups (or other annoying ads) in the results rankings starting on January 10, 2017.

Examples of interstitials that make content less accessible, Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog
Examples of interstitials that make content less accessible, Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog

Google controls the rankings it gives out and it does this by receiving hundreds of signals all year round. So in the end, the site with the best information comes up to suit your query. However, the best information should also mean the best access to it. And ads, if anything, block that access. Whether it’s a small ad atop a video that you have to close each time it pauses or a pop up that appears each time you accidentally click on a blank space, that stuff is infuriating.

Ads that block content without being pop ups are also included, you know those annoying banners that crowd a screen (they sometimes disappear, sometimes don’t) on any of the four sides. This is not to say that all ads will be considered negative. “Reasonable banner ads” are still fine.

Examples of interstitials that would not be affected by the new signal, if used responsibly, Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog
Examples of interstitials that would not be affected by the new signal, if used responsibly, Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog

Taking this in to account, Google will prefer sites that are less obtrusive than others. It won’t work over night and pressure sites to remove ads in fear of less traffic but over time, it will force them to change the way they place ads around content. Like it or not, Google is THE major source of traffic.

Google has done this before. In 2014 it began increasing the rank of sites with encryption. In 2015 it bumped up sites that offered mobile friendly browsing.

All Hail Google?

Publishers are unlikely to be happy concerning this ranking change. A lot of them depend heavily on ad revenue to survive. Google dictating how the net should be run is becoming a concern that many share. Just last year, the company was involved in a huge lawsuit involving most of Europe. Publishers from all over the continent maligned the search giant for preferring its own services over theirs and putting a dent in their revenue streams. This lawsuit eventually ballooned to include other apps an services. The European Union and the European Commission could both fine Google a whopping $7 billion each for its unfair use. That’s a quarter each of its global sales.

Google has also dabbled in providing faster Internet to the masses through Google Fiber, the FASTER trans Pacific cable and Project Loon. Not to mention Project Fi that allows Nexus phones to switch between cellular internet and Wifi depending on the connection speed and strength. All this inevitably benefits Google by driving traffic to its servers.

While all this has a creepy big brother vibe to it, competition is probably not going to let Google rule the waves. Facebook, Apple and Microsoft all have similar plans and they’re not ready to throw in the towel just yet.