Google has decided to punish mobile sites that use intrusive pop-up ads by ranking them low and not figuring them prominently on search results. The move is an attempt to make search easier for users. However, it is likely to affect business like news websites and e-commerce ventures that heavily depend on such pop-up ads.
In a blog post Google outlines why these pop-ups need to be removed by saying, "While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result. Thus, to improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly."
However, all pop-ups under the sun will not be blocked. The blocked ones need to meet a certain degree of annoyance according to Google. For example necessary pop-ups like verifying age is permissible along with smaller banner ads at the top of a screen that do not block content. In Google's rough formula, a "reasonable amount of screen space" is alright for these ads.
To let websites and even bloggers get a better idea of how this will work the company has listed some examples of non-accessible content below:
Google also lists some examples of advertisements which will not fall into the penalising category:
Google asks websites at the same not to be too worried as this is just one of many algorithms working together to determine search and assures that if a website has great content to a search query it may still rank high despite such ads. Although it is not known how exactly Google search works, the company has in the past revealed some insight into the query like "mobile friendly" websites have a greater chance of boosting the rank of their content. Also, content on those sites that come with encryption get a better ranking.