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John Mueller and Gary Illyes SEO Takeaways from Pubcon 2018

Tammy Wood • November 14, 2018 • 4 minutes to read

Takeaways from John Mueller and Gary Illyes at Pubcon 2018

In October I made the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to attend Pubcon Las Vegas, the annual Internet Marketing conference.

As always it was an awesome week of panels, discussions and keynotes. John Mu and Gary Illyesof Google provided a ton of useful information throughout the conference.

In light of all the gems that they provided provided, we wrote up a few awesome takeaways from the conference.

1.Technical Mobile First Issues

The big takeaways from both John as well as Gary include:

  • Google is continuously testing and tweaking results to better match the full intent behind a query.
  • E-A-T is very much specific to YMYL sites. Your money & Your Life sites ( ecommerce) and particularly for subscription sites ( hellofresh, monthly box subscriptions)
  • Technology is driving big changes in search and will continue to do so, particularly in regards to mobile and voice search.
Mobile first indexing is happening to all of us. ⁦[@methode](⁩ [#pubcon]( []( — Tiffani Allen (@Tiffani_Allen) [October 17, 2018](

2.International SEO

First and foremost: We want to give all the credit to Aleyda Solis for this bit of genius, a brilliant SEO who presented on the topic of International SEO.

Aleyda discussed ways to prioritize international markets such as:

  • Identify which markets your competition is already profiting from
  • Verify which countries have the most traffic potential (based on your top keywords)
  • Gauge the level of existing organic search competition in potential international markets — backlinks, TLDs, types of websites, etc.
  • Analyze which markets align with your own multilingual and international operations capacity

You can see Aleyda's framework mentioned on her blog. She also said to:

  • Avoid using scripts or cookies to show international versions of the same URL.
  • Don't use parameters for international web structure, particularly for countries.
  • For country targeting, choose between CCTLDs, sub-directories with GTLDs, or sub-domains with GLTDs.

Aleyda also covered the common issue of ranking the wrong pages in international search.

To avoid this problem, it's critical to localize and geolocate each version of your site. Ranking the wrong pages can impact your site negatively in terms of user experience, click-through rate, and conversions. SEO's can use VPNs to emulate any location to test your implementations.

Another important tip that Aleyda shared was to avoid automatic redirects based on IP location. These redirects can provide a bad user experience and actually hinder the crawlability of your international versions. Aleyda provided a better solution — suggesting the relevant version of your site, and letting users choose.

Marie Haynes tweeted about this:

Best option is to show a banner recognizing, "Ah! I see you are in Spain. Do you want to see the version of our site for Spain?"Give users the option.[@aleyda]( [#Pubcon]( — Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) [October 17, 2018](

A few final international SEO gems from Aleyda:

  • To ensure the right page ranks you need to localize every aspect of your content, including ...
    • URLs
    • Title tags
    • Meta descriptions
    • Navigation

3. Back to the Mobile First Index (MFI) ... What does it mean to be ready?

Gary Illyes addressed this in a simple way.

What’s does it mean to be mobile first index ready?- Content, video images- Metadata, structured data- Internal links- Crawl capacity[@methode]( [#pubcon]( []( — Kevin Gibbons (@kevgibbo) [October 17, 2018](

4. Metadata: Does it even matter?

In the world Image Optimization - yes it does!

Gary emphasized that metadata still matters and promised there is no character limit for meta descriptions. He said Google will just use enough text to help people understand what your page is about. Gary also shared there are opportunities to win in search with images. His tips for image optimization included:

  • Using alt-text, but with discretion.( too many letters)
  • Adding captions to images
  • Lazy-loading images with

5.Hashtags in URLs - Good or bad for SEO?

Google does not index content from URLs that contain hash. So no hashtags are not good for SEO purposes!

According to Gary, if it appears when there is a hash in a URL, such as, any content past the hash (#) will not be indexed by Google.

Obligatory Gary tweet (by way of Tiffani Allen).

Trend #1 for search via [@methode]( No hashtags in URLs. "If you have hashtags in URLs, I'm fairly certain that no search engine will know what to do with it." [#Pubcon]( — Tiffani Allen (@Tiffani_Allen) [October 17, 2018](

A Gift for Reading to the End

We hope you got a ton of value out of John and Gary's key insights from Pubcon Las Vegas this year.

As a gift to reading all the way to the end of the post, we've got an awesome gift for you: A guide walking you through how to forecast your Keyword Ranking Gains in BrightEdge.

In the event you have more questions, reach out to us on Twitter at @MKGMarketingInc.

Also a big 'thank you' to Perk Canada for the awesome Pubcon hero image!

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