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Gary Illyes: “The Mobile First Index is the biggest change in search this year”

18 January 2018

Gary Illyes is Google Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google and on top of all of the latest developments at Google Search. He knows all about the secrets and the latest updates of the Google algorithm. Gary will take questions from the audience at Friends of Search 2018 in a Q&A session. We already got the opportunity to ask him a few questions in advance!

 2017 has been an interesting year for Search. What was the most fun thing you did in the last year?

 I believe trying to figure out with the Search teams what we should say about Mobile First Indexing, what people should do to prepare their sites, was one of the most fun thing I’ve done this year.

We need to change our index to fully support and help our mobile users, something the current desktop based index cannot do. Because of the insane amount of moving parts of search, this is extremely challenging. Finding the moving parts that people can influence and communicating those externally in a way that they don’t introduce more confusion was one of the most challenging, albeit fun, things I did this year.

Last year at Friends of Search, you spoke about Google’s Mobile First Index. A couple of weeks ago you confirmed at SMX East that it has started rolling out. Can you give us an update on the Mobile First Index?

You’re in luck, because we just published a blogpost with updates on the Mobile First Index and what people can do to prepare. Check it out!

How should SEO experts and marketers get ready for voice search?

People will not like my answer, but from SEO perspective you don’t need to change anything: create content that your users find useful and can read. Bonus points for writing in a way that it doesn’t sound like it’s been written by or for machines.

Can you share a successful SEO technique that has lots of potential, but is rarely used?

 Hreflang is probably one of the most undervalued markup that SEOs sometimes forget about. I’m not the right person to praise it since I worked on it internally, but I think any expert, say Aleyda Solis or Bill Hunt, can confirm its positive effects on multilingual and multiregional sites.

What’s the biggest change SEO will see in 2018? 

The biggest change from Google Search side is the Mobile First Index and I believe it will continue to be. We’re going to move more sites to MFI as we see more of them are prepared and that’s very likely the biggest change that’s going to happen in 2018. Besides that, as you may have noticed, we had quite a few Search Features coming out that are based on Structured Data, and you can expect more of those.

What will SEO look like in 2020?

 Without being Nostradamus, I’d say SEO in 2020 will look pretty much like it does now. Most things haven’t changed in years: you create amazing content or a service, you market it in some way, you get visitors, repeat.

Why should no one miss your presentation at Friends of Search?

At Friends of Search I’m going talk more about the Mobile First Index and how we’re doing on that front, and also about structured data and how it influences not only Search Features, but also indexing. Besides that, I was told sometimes I’m funny.