3 Ways to Comply with Google's Mobile-Friendly Content Update

3 Ways to Comply with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Content Update

Did you hear the news?

- Google is releasing one of its search engine algorithm updates. 

And, it's an excellent update, as long as you take a few simple steps to get your website in line. 

From 10th January, 2017, Google will penalize websites that have interstitials covering the content on mobile devices. 

Yes, that’s right, this is another mobile-friendly update from Google. 


What the heck is an interstitial?

Confused? It’s not every day you come across the word interstitial, is it? (Unless you’re in the medical profession.)

But in Google terms, it relates to those annoying popups or lightboxes or welcome mats that obscure the main content you are trying to view on your mobile screen.

I'm sure you've come across them?

Google is unhappy that you can't see the expected content on your mobile device when you land on a web page from its search results.

Think about it...

Google wants to provide the best possible service to searchers. And if it directs you to a site whose content is obliterated by an interstitial, then it has failed to provide a good service.

So, it's new algorithm update will give a lower ranking to those sites that continue to block the main content with annoying interstitials.

Examples of interstitials from Google

Google has written an article with some examples of what it considers to be unacceptable and acceptable interstitials. It's worth checking out.

Here is a quick visual guide (from the article) to help you:

3 examples of interstitials that are not acceptable:


An example of an intrusive popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.

google interstitial example 2

An example of an intrusive standalone interstitial, that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.

google interstitial example 3

Another example of an intrusive standalone interstitial, where the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

3 examples of interstitials that are acceptable:

google interstitial example 4

An example of an interstitial for cookie usage

google interstitial example 5

An example of an interstitial for age verification

google interstitial example 6

An example of a banner that uses a reasonable amount of screen space

I'm sure you'll agree this is good news for those of us who want to read content on mobile devices without having to jump over unnecessary hurdles.

Does This Affect Your Site?

If you’re using any of the unacceptable interstitials mentioned above on your website, then you need to take action.

The most common interstitials are those used for email opt-ins. But they could be used for other messages or adverts too.

If you use a list building plugin to display opt-ins on your website, then you need to check your settings and remove the offending types of opt-ins for mobile devices.

Note: You can still use them for desktop screens - this update is for mobile devices.

Hopefully, you’re using a premium list building plugin, where you can adjust your settings and comply with Google’s mobile-friendly content update.

If not, then perhaps it’s time to invest in a better solution?

How To Comply With Google's Mobile-Friendly Content Update

If you use Thrive Leads, OptinMonster or Bloom, then you can make a few changes in your settings to comply with Google's mobile-friendly content update.

#1 Thrive Leads

Navigate to your Thrive Leads Dashboard. You can switch on/off each type of opt-in form for desktop and mobile:

Thrive Leads Dashboard

#2 OptinMonster

Go to the Display Rules setting in each OptinMonster Campaign and adjust the Device Settings:

Optinmonster Device Rule

#3 Bloom (Elegant Themes)

Navigate to your Active Opt-ins in Bloom and edit each opt-in. In the Display Settings, make sure you check the Hide on Mobile setting:

Bloom Display Settings

Each of these premium list building plugins make it super easy to choose how you display your opt-ins. Take a few minutes to check if you've set up everything correctly.


This is a great update from Google.

It's focused on providing the best user experience and ensuring content is displayed correctly on mobile devices.

If you're a responsible blogger using a premium list building plugin like those above, then you have nothing to worry about. Make your changes and you're good to go. ​

If you have any questions or comments, then let me know below.

David Hartshorne

I'm a freelance writer working with business owners and marketing teams to create in-depth, actionable content that resonates with their audience. When I'm not writing about digital marketing and technology, you’ll find me chilling with a thriller in Spain.

  • Mary Fernandez

    Thank you for this excellent post, David! This is such an important discussion.

    I’d like to make one clarification for OptinMonster users: if you have been using OptinMonster, you have been compliant with Google’s mobile friendly update from Day 1. There is no need to change anything in your settings.

    Here is a post from Syed Balkhi with more information: The New Google Mobile Friendly Rules for Popups (and How They Affect OptinMonster).

    • Thanks, Mary!

      I appreciate that premium list building plugins like OptinMonster have always had the device settings to distinguish between mobile and desktop devices and ensure users get the best experience.

      However, sometimes these settings are overlooked by site owners, and they could inadvertently end up displaying a full-screen welcome mat on mobile devices.

      Just wanted to remind folks they have a ready-made solution with a quality product like OptinMonster!
      – David

      • Mary Fernandez

        That is very true, David, good point!!

        Another thing you can do–if you still want to use mobile popups or fullscreen interstitials on mobile–is set them to show only on 2nd page view, or only after scrolling 80% of the page, or only for visitors who are NOT coming from Google. (More details in the article I referenced in my prior comment.)

  • Hey David,

    I heard about this on a forum recently, but I’m glad you wrote about this in greater detail, as I now understand a little bit better as to what this algorithm update is really about.

    Firstly, I think this is a great update, and yes as you say it’s finally a relief to be able to view and read web content on a mobile device without being interrupted by annoying pop-ups.

    That being said, I think this is going to affect a lot website owners and bloggers who get a lot of new subscribers and sales leads from their pop-up offers through mobile devices.

    I took evasive action on my site and removed all pop-ups, scroll mats and so forth from appearing on mobile sites, and as you mentioned Thrive Leads has a great feature that allows your to do that. I do love Thrive Leads.

    I have seen a small but significant decrease in the number of opt-ins however, but if you have a business website that you need to ensure continues to provide value and have your products and services seen, then this is a critical step I think.

    For those who are thinking well, I’m just going to take the risk and see what happens. Mobile traffic is definitely on the increase. For my site at Magnet4Blogging I’ve seen a 38% rise in traffic just from mobile devices over the last 8 weeks.

    Again if you have a business website, likely your ideal customers are searching for your services on their mobile devices, so ensuring they have a fantastic expereince accessing the information they need on your site without interruption is very important.

    Great post mate, thanks for the information. Have a great weekend.

    • Hey Fabrizio,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic, and I have to agree that business owners have a conscious decision to make. Either keep the annoying types of opt-in or conform with acceptable types. I think there are plenty of alternatives that can be used that look good and still capture leads.

      If you’re using Thrive Leads it’s so easy to make the change that it would be foolish to ignore the algorithm update.

      Good to hear mobile traffic is increasing for you and I hope you can continue to grow your subscribers too.

      – David