SEO for Lawyers

Lawyer Marketing Guide

The Role of Google’s Interstitials Update
in Law Firm SEO Performance

Explore Google’s increasing focus on improving web browsing experience for mobile users by exploring their Intrusive Interstitials algorithm update.



User experience is vital for online success, especially for law firms. In a competitive market, a thoughtful user experience can make your website stand out. It can also help improve your site’s visibility on search engines. So, if you’re a law firm, it’s not enough to just have a website; it needs to be user-friendly too.

In 2017, Google rolled out the Intrusive Interstitials Update—an algorithmic change designed to improve the mobile browsing experience. This update targeted websites that employ intrusive interstitials, which are pop-ups or overlays that obscure content, making it difficult for users to access the information they’re seeking. The purpose of this update was to prioritize user experience by penalizing websites that impede content accessibility through these intrusive methods. 

Consequently, websites that continued to use intrusive interstitials saw a significant drop in their search engine rankings. The message from Google was clear: prioritize user experience or risk losing visibility in search results. Since then, businesses have had to rethink their digital marketing strategies, focusing more on creating a seamless user experience rather than aggressive advertising techniques.

The Significance for Law Firm Rankings

Google’s Intrusive Interstitials Update was a clear indication of Google’s commitment to enhancing mobile user experience, which has become increasingly important as mobile traffic continues to grow.

For law firms, this update could mean a significant shift in their website rankings if they were previously using intrusive interstitials as part of their online strategy. The penalties imposed by this update can lead to a drop in search engine ranking, resulting in decreased visibility and potentially fewer client inquiries.

Furthermore, the update underscores the importance of creating a mobile-friendly website that offers seamless navigation and easy access to information. For law firms, this might mean re-evaluating their current digital strategies and possibly redesigning their websites to ensure they are not only compliant with Google’s guidelines but also meeting the expectations of online prospective clients.

Penalty for Intrusive Interstitials

Intrusive interstitials are disruptive to the user experience, especially on mobile devices where screen real estate is limited. These can include pop-ups that cover the main content, standalone interstitials that users have to dismiss before accessing the main content, and above-the-fold portions of the page that look like a standalone interstitial.

Google’s Intrusive Interstitials Update targets these disruptive elements. The algorithm identifies websites using such tactics and imposes penalties, which can result in lower search rankings. It’s important to note that the algorithm is page-specific, not site-wide. This means that if only certain pages of your law firm’s website use intrusive interstitials, only those specific pages will be penalized.

The penalties can significantly impact a website’s visibility on Google’s search results. Given that most online users do not browse past the first page of search results, a drop in rankings can trigger a considerable decrease in website traffic, client inquiries, and ultimately, business revenue.

Exceptions for Legal Obligations

While Google’s Intrusive Interstitials Update is designed to penalize disruptive content, there are important exceptions, particularly for interstitials that serve a legal purpose.

Certain types of interstitials are necessary for legal compliance and are therefore not affected by this update. This includes pop-ups used for age verification or cookie usage, which are legally required in certain regions or industries to protect user privacy or restrict access to age-sensitive content.

Similarly, banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible, like app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome, are also not impacted by the update.

However, it’s crucial to implement these necessary interstitials in a way that is minimally intrusive and does not significantly impede the user’s ability to access the website content. Law firms must strike a balance between meeting legal obligations and providing a seamless user experience to maintain their SEO performance.

Focus on User-Friendly Experience

User experience (UX) has emerged as a critical factor in determining a website’s search rankings. Google’s Intrusive Interstitials Update is a testament to this shift, emphasizing the importance of a user-friendly browsing experience.

A website that prioritizes UX ensures easy navigation, quick load times, and minimal disruptions. For law firms, this means providing clear, easily accessible information about their services, creating intuitive navigation menus, and eliminating intrusive pop-ups or interstitials.

User engagement metrics such as bounce rate, session duration, and pages per session are all influenced by the quality of the user experience. High user engagement signals to search engines that users find a website useful and engaging, which can improve search rankings.

Furthermore, a positive user experience can also increase conversion rates. Potential clients who can quickly and easily find the information they need are more likely to reach out for a consultation or service.

Optimizing for the Intrusive Interstitials Update

Strategies to effectively adapt to the Google Intrusive Interstitials Update:

  1. Audit Your Website: Conduct a comprehensive audit of your website to identify any intrusive interstitials. Look for pop-ups that obscure primary content, standalone interstitials that must be dismissed before accessing main content, or above-the-fold content resembling a standalone interstitial.
  2. Revise Intrusive Elements: Once identified, revise these elements to make them less intrusive. If an interstitial is necessary, ensure it uses minimal screen space and can be easily dismissed.
  3. Optimize for Mobile: Given that the update primarily affects mobile browsing, ensure your website is optimized for mobile users. This includes responsive design, easy navigation, and fast load times.
  4. Prioritize User Experience (UX): Above all, strive to deliver a superior UX. This involves clear and concise content, intuitive site structure, and quick load times.

Remember, the ultimate goal of this update is to improve the browsing experience for users. By aligning your website with this goal, you’ll not only comply with the update but also create a more engaging and effective website for potential clients.

Use Non-Intrusive Alternatives

It’s important to explore non-intrusive alternatives that can deliver necessary information without disrupting the user experience. Here are a few effective alternatives:

  1. Banners: Small banners at the top or bottom of the screen provide valuable information without obstructing most of the content. They can be used for cookie consent notifications, promotional messages, or important updates.
  2. Slide-ins: Slide-ins or slide-up boxes are less intrusive as they use minimal screen space and do not disrupt the browsing flow. They are ideal for encouraging newsletter sign-ups or showcasing special offers.
  3. Exit-Intent Pop-ups: These pop-ups appear only when the user is about to leave the page, hence they don’t interrupt the user’s initial interaction with the site. They can be useful for capturing emails or offering last-minute deals.
  4. Inline Content: Embed important messages or calls to action within your website’s content. This can be particularly effective on landing pages or service description pages and allows users to engage with the content at their own pace.
  5. Chatbots: A well-programmed chatbot can provide personalized guidance and answer visitor queries without being intrusive.

Comply with Legal Requirements

While it’s important to adapt to Google’s Intrusive Interstitials Update for SEO purposes, law firms must also ensure they comply with legal obligations such as data privacy laws. Striking a balance between compliance and user experience can be challenging, but here are some strategies:

  1. Transparent and Concise Messaging: Legal notifications, such as those required for cookie consent or data collection, should be clear and concise. Users should easily understand what they are consenting to.
  2. Minimal Disruption: Aim to present these legal requirements in a way that minimizes disruption. Use non-intrusive formats like banners or slide-ins, which can deliver the necessary information without compromising the user experience.
  3. Regular Reviews: Laws and regulations can change frequently. Regularly review your website’s compliance measures to ensure they remain up-to-date with current laws.
  4. Consult Legal Experts: When in doubt, consult with legal experts or a digital compliance agency to ensure your website meets all necessary legal requirements.

By integrating these strategies, law firms can maintain a user-friendly website that also adheres to essential obligations, satisfying both Google’s update and legal requirements.

Focus on Mobile-Friendly Design

Having a responsive, mobile-friendly design is essential. Google’s Intrusive Interstitials Update further emphasizes this by penalizing intrusive interstitials that disrupt the mobile user experience. 

To optimize your law firm’s website for mobile devices, consider implementing responsive design, reducing load times, simplifying navigation, and replacing intrusive interstitials with non-intrusive alternatives. 

Monitor User Engagement Metrics

Keeping a close eye on the data is crucial to understand the effectiveness of your optimization efforts. Metrics like bounce rate, average session duration, and pages per session can provide valuable insights into how users interact with your website.

High bounce rates could indicate that users are finding your site difficult to navigate or that your content isn’t meeting their expectations. Longer session durations and more pages per session suggest users are finding your content engaging and helpful.

By monitoring these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement and measure the success of your adjustments. 

Final Thoughts

With Google’s Intrusive Interstitials Update, law firms must adapt their SEO strategies to prioritize non-intrusive, mobile-friendly designs that enhance user experience. By doing so, they not only comply with Google’s guidelines but also improve their chances of attracting and retaining potential clients.

Explore the effects of Google’s Mobile Page Speed algorithm update on law firm websites.

At Gladiator Law Marketing, we understand the nuances of these changes and the unique needs of law firm websites. Our team is dedicated to helping law firms navigate these updates, optimize their websites, and ultimately, drive more organic traffic and conversions. With our expertise and commitment, we can help law firms thrive in this new SEO environment.

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