Do Interstitial Ads affect SEO? Is Google favoring the biggies?

We’ve all come across it. You click on a very reputed site’s link from Google results and while at the site, before the actual content the ad pops up (actually fills up) and you got to click some tiny “x” somewhere there to move further ahead that it almost becomes a mini game in itself.

So, there are technically two parts to the whole process soon after the click. One – the game (err.. the Ad) and then the clicking part which takes you to the actual content.

Typically, from examples I’ve seen, the Ad is pulled from a unique URL, which comes in between the actual Google result and the final destination.

I’m not sure if this can be compared to cloaking – which is a complete no-no in Google’s terms. They are ads for sure, but in one way, they’re poor user experiences. People don’t like any kind of “obstruction” between Google results and the content.

In my opinion, with all the anti-spam and low-quality website beating going on, Google should not allow such websites or may be grade such websites lower to websites with actual, user friendly, quality content.

Apparently, some websites (of course, with authority and reputation) can easily pull it off and manage to get a first page rank even.

Take for example, who ranks number one on Google for the search term “How to make money online?” (As of 25th April, 2012).

how to make money online   Google Search

They have a very good reputation, authority and backlink data to support (I didn’t even check it honestly, being Forbes) but clicking on the link takes me immediately to (, which triggers a 20 second interstitial ad.

I’m not trying to say that they shouldn’t be on the first spot – obviously they deserve it. But I wonder what if interstitial ads were taken into consideration here?

Would Google think that a 20 second auto-trigger ad would destroy the user experience?

Would an average (actually, below average) internet user blame it on Google for sending him to a website that makes him forcibly wait for 20 seconds before getting him the results?

20 seconds sounds like half an hour for me. Its clearly poor user experience. But Forbes has a huge backlink and authority data to its credit. So, would Google excuse it?

Wait, that’s too many questions to ask I guess.

Just a curious guy..

View Comments
  • Robin

    Google needs more money it seems to reach the figure of Apple may be.. So they are forcing us to consider using Adwords maximum than depending on the Search Results…


  • joe

    I’m with you on this one! Personally, I can’t stand seeing these ads, no matter how authoritative the site or where it ranks on google. I simply close it, because I’m not interested in hearing (or reading) a 20 second ad pitch. There are far better, less intrusive ways to show ads. If the ad is relevant to what I’m looking for, intriguing, and placed in a position that isn’t annoying, I may click on it. Anyways, I think the best practice is hurt their bounce rate by simply moving on to another website. If enough people simply moved on, they would be forced to change their advertising methods to a more user friendly method.

    Nice post by the way!

  • JV

    Joe, that’s such a common response by almost any user. If it was placed in a non-annoying manner, you wouldn’t even notice it unless you were desperately looking for it. The point is many people don’t know what they want until they’ve seen it. Thus the intrusive ads work to a certain extent just like TV, radio and newspaper ads – they are blatantly present and unavoidable.

    Just think for a moment who actually thinks about ads when they are in need of a solution/option? Nobody. It has to be fed to the user for his/her consumption – some will consider it, some will not want it, but branding has still been achieved.

    That’s not to say I love such ads – I don’t. But from an advertiser’s point of view, what choices do they have? Pretty much all the intrusive options. A lot more effort is required to pull off a less intrusive campaign with a similar impact – effort and time = money. And extra cost will then come straight out of the end-users who will then have to pay a higher price for product/service. In most cases, apart from luxury goods, increased prices are not an option for fear of losing user base/consumers, whatever.

    See the vicious cycle? It’s easy to say one doesn’t want intrusive ads or even any ads. But there’s no clear alternative either. If there was, everyone would have been using that, won’t they?