Google’s given website owners fair warning that from January next year, it’s going to start penalising the rankings for sites that use “intrusive” pop-up ads.

While this is by no means restricted to adult sites, it’s hard to think of many that don’t employ them somewhere, meaning that a whole lot of adult sites are going to get their mobile search rankings demoted if they don’t switch to interstitials that Google finds less offensive.

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. 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,” the company said.

These interstitials will result in lower search rankings from January 10, 2017. The main image in this post shows ‘acceptable’ interstitials.

In a blog post, Google laid out the differences between ads that are acceptable, and those that aren’t. In general, any screen put between the user and their access to the content (including directly from clicking links in search results) isn’t allowed, unless it’s a legal obligation. For example, a full page mobile pop-up screen that asks you to agree with a legal policy is fine, but one that covers the whole screen simply to ask you to subscribe to a newsletter definitely won’t be.

While it’s good news for Web users, it’s also a fairly self-interested move – Google allows site owners to run page-level interstitial ads through its own Adsense dashboard, which will presumably all be allowed to continue without penalising sites that use them.