Catching up with Gary Illyes from Google

By Brodie Clark

Optimising Team with Gary Illyes from Google

I follow Gary Illyes on Twitter, so I was very happy to see this update alerting his followers that he was coming to Melbourne. It’s not every day that a very prominent member from Google comes to Australia, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to have a chat with him in-person in a relaxed setting.

Myself, Daniel, and Trishan from Optimising¬†went to show face at the meetup last night in South Melbourne at the Honey Bar and Restaurant. There was a bigger turn out than many would have expected, which mean’t a more structured approach to the meetup was needed so everyone would get a chance to ask their own questions.

I had 3 questions prepared which had been on my mind for a while and figured they might be appropriate. The first question related to Google Search Console (GSC) in response to an article I had read where an SEO was able to essentially force an index on an external site by embedding an outbound link on their own by using the ‘fetch as Google’ tool.

The purpose of this particular tactic related to the consistency of the NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) on directory sites.

Note: Gary actually said that this wasn’t a ranking factor – although we’ll save that point for future discussions.

In theory, if for instance your business has a citation on a directory site (like Yellow Pages) and the details are inconsistent with what is on your own website, then this can cause some Local SEO issues.

The question regarding GSC’s ability to index someone else’s site was however shut down by Gary, by providing obvious reasoning that being able to impact someone else’s site is not a capability of the tool and would potentially allow you to damage someone else’s site – which makes total sense.

fetch as google myth

The second question I had related to a more topical subject in the SEO space. Regarding Google’s update on March 26th about the official roll out of Mobile-First Indexing, I wanted to get clarification on any potential issues of hiding content on Mobile for User Experience (UX) reasons.

Gary’s answer was that if your site is considered to be ‘responsive’, then you have nothing to be worried about. If a portion of your content is hidden on Mobile, this is completely fine and their systems are smart enough to be able to figure that out. This was an answer that I found especially helpful.

My time was running thin with Gary and I wanted to fit in one last question. The final question I had was about what Google recommends with respect to Structured Data for a site. In the past, I’ve mostly used different types of LocalBusiness markup, and sometimes Website and Organisation markup.

Gary’s recommendation here was to use whatever makes sense for the site, although keep in mind Page Speed issues which could be caused if implemented incorrectly (or from going overboard). Gary recommended I check out Google’s documentation (I believe this is what he was referring to) for a full breakdown.

Overall, I’m very happy I made the effort to go along to the meetup and say hello to one of my favourite Googlers. Thanks for your time in answering my questions, Gary!

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