Google has a long standing tradition of encouraging a better web by updating its algorithms to benefit sites that offer a positive user experience (UX) and penalize those that don’t. As Google Webmaster Matt Cutts explains, “we try to help people make the web a better experience, so people will be on the web longer, and people will be happier … for example, we never show popup ads on Google. Even though it might have meant a little bit more money up front, because we also knew it would also annoy users and make them less likely to come back.”

Here are a few examples of Google algorithm updates that have focused on making the web a better place:

Site Speed

In August 2010 Google introduced the site speed ranking signal and “encouraged [site owners] to start looking at site speed — not only to improve ranking in search engines, but also to improve everyone’s experience on the Internet.”

Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs.

Using site speed in web search ranking

PageSpeed Insights

In May 2014 Google’s PageSpeed Insights was updated to offer suggestions for improving user experience.

Poor usability can diminish the benefits of a fast page load.

Making your site more mobile-friendly with PageSpeed Insights

Modern Technology

In July 2014 Google began displaying search result indicators for pages that used unsupported technology (i.e. Flash).

A common annoyance for web users is when websites require browser technologies that are not supported by their device.

Promoting modern websites for modern devices in Google search results

HTTPS

In August 2014 Google began using HTTPS as a ranking signal, and in December 2015 Google began crawling and indexing HTTPS pages by default, even for HTTPS URLs that were not linked elsewhere.

At Google, user security has always been a top priority. Over the years, we’ve worked hard to promote a more secure web and to provide a better browsing experience for users. …we started giving a slight ranking boost to HTTPS URLs in search results last year. Browsing the web should be a private experience between the user and the website, and must not be subject to eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, or data modification. This is why we’ve been strongly promoting HTTPS everywhere.

Indexing HTTPS pages by default

We’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

HTTPS as a raking signal

Mobile Friendly

In Febuary 2015 Google announced the mobile-friendly update and in April 2015 the new signal was introduced, boosting the ranking of pages using responsive web design.

The desktop version of a site might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. The version that’s not mobile-friendly requires the user to pinch or zoom in order to read the content. Users find this a frustrating experience and are likely to abandon the site. Alternatively, the mobile-friendly version is readable and immediately usable.

Mobile Friendly Websites

Doorway Pages

In March 2015 Google announced a ranking adjustment to better address doorway pages – sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries – as part of a continual effort by Google’s Search Quality team to “minimize the impact of webspam on users.”

[I]f a user clicks on one result, doesn’t like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn’t like, that’s a really frustrating experience.

An update on doorway pages

App Pop Overs

In September 2015 Google announced a change to their mobile-friendly algorithms to exclude web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content.

Sometimes a user may tap on a search result on a mobile device and see an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content and prompts the user to install an app. Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page.

Mobile-friendly web pages using app banners

[A] full page interstitial can interrupt the user from reaching their desired content. …Our analysis found that 69% of the visits abandoned [on our interstitial] page. …Based on these results, we decided to permanently retire the interstitial …and we are sharing this with the hope that you will reconsider the use of promotional interstitials. Let’s remove friction and make the mobile web more useful and usable!

Google+: A case study on App Download Interstitials

Interstitials

In August 2016 Google announced a search penalty for pages where content is not easily accessible to a user due to “intrusive interstitials”.

[C]ontent may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting…

Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible.

Helping users easily access content on mobile