January 2017 saw Google introduce a demotion for sites with mobile interstitials and popups, demoting such sites in the mobile search results. The demotion can hit pretty hard, with some site owners losing ten places in the rankings, and that can lead to big drops in website traffic.
The policy had been flagged up as early as August 2016, but Google has only just started demoting sites. As the severity of the demotion becomes clear, some website owners are now removing their interstitial and popup ads. They now want to know how long it will take for the removal of the ads to be picked up by Google, and when they can expect to see the demotion removed.
The answer comes in two parts. First: the demotion will only be removed once the Googlebot has recrawled the individual webpage, noted the removal of the offending ads, and reindexed the page. Depending on Google’s web crawling schedules, which reflect a number of factors including the site’s PageRank and the frequency with which it is updated, that could take from a couple of days to a couple of months.
That’s not great news for webmasters. Once the page has been recrawled and reindexed, though, the demotion will be removed in real time. Once pages have been recrawled, site owners won’t need to wait for a batch update to see the demotion reversed.
This has now been confirmed by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, in the Webmaster Office Hours.
If you have mobile interstitials or popups on your site, and you want to remove them in order not to be demoted in the search results, you can get ahead of the curve by submitting individual web pages to Google’s Fetch and Submit tool or the Fetch as Googlebot function, which can be found in the Search Console. Submitting the page will get it recrawled ahead of schedule. You should definitely prioritise your most important webpages, though, as the number of pages you can submit is limited. Other pages will have to wait their turn.
Of course the reverse of the potential delay for website owners who have been demoted and are taking their interstitials and popups off the site is that those who want to add mobile interstitials or popups will benefit from a little grace period, since the demotion won’t be applied till Google has recrawled your site.