The Mobile Apps Penalty

Filed in Blog by on September 13, 2015

 
April 21, 2015 saw ‘MobileGeddon’ or in other words, Google’s algorithmic update which penalised websites that weren’t mobile friendly.

Whilst most website owners called in their web developers to create an independent mobile website or make their sites mobile responsive, some savvy business owners saw an opportunity to go one step further and used the mobile bandwagon to generate new leads.

This was achieved by using an ‘intrusive’ download where a user was encouraged to download the business’ app.

 

Advantages Of A Mobile App

The major difference between a mobile website and app is the ability to use ‘push marketing’. A mobile friendly website functions just like a regular website. An app however, can push notifications to that user’s phone and this is what it makes so appealing to a business owner.

Imagine that a restaurant is running a promotion. It’s a Wednesday afternoon, the post lunch rush has finished and the restaurant has gone quiet at 3pm. To drum up business, the restaurant decides to offer free drinks to any customer that buys a starter between 3pm and 5pm.

 

Successful Promotions

How does the restaurant let its customers know about the promotion? Sure it could run an email blast to its subscriber list (if it has one) but how many people are going to open that email in the next couple of hours?

A more effective way of getting that message across is to use text or sms. Open rates for sms are almost instant because we generally tend to carry our phones with us. However, maintaining a database of email numbers is fiddly compared to email.

A much easier way is to use an app that a user has already downloaded onto their mobile device. The app makes communication between the business and the customer much easier.

However, it seems that some business owners have been too aggressive in the way that they encourage users to download their mobile app and this has annoyed Google.

 

Introducing The Mobile App Penalty

In an attempt to curb this growing trend, the search giant has announced that businesses that aggressively try to force users to download their app will have their websites penalised after November 1st, 2015.

Here’s what Google had to say:

“After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.”

 

The reason?

 

Google considers that interstitials provide a poor user experience as they create unnecessary friction for mobile visitors.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2015/07/google-case-study-on-app-download-interstitials.html

 

SEO Perspective

Google have already updated their mobile friendly testing tool to look at whether a website offers a mobile app interstitial.

If it does then Google will consider your site to be non mobile friendly. This in turn will likely have a significant impact on your website’s organic traffic.

If you use mobile apps in your business or as part of your marketing services for clients, take action now before your sites get hit.