Google doesn’t like app install interstitials, and it doesn’t like sneaky workarounds for things, so it should come as no surprise that it doesn’t like sneaky workarounds for app install interstitials.
As an update to its mobile-friendly algorithm in November, Google said pages with an app install interstitial that hide a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page won’t be considered mobile-friendly.
“Instead of full page interstitials, we recommend that webmasters use more user-friendly formats such as app install banners,” Google said at the time. “We hope that this change will make it easier for searchers to see the content of the pages they are looking for.”
Some app owners have found a way around this, but what they’re doing may not help them for much longer.
Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a Q&A in a Google webmaster hangout (start at 49 minutes in).
Someone points out Yelp specifically as an example (which is interesting given the company’s vocal opposition to Google’s policy on this) of a mobile site that uses a “splash screen that’s not really a splash screen,” because it just makes the user scroll down.
According to Google’s John Mueller, Google may take manual actions on things like this and may even alter its algorithm to penalize such practices.