Key takeaways from the Google AMA: RankBrain, Panda, Penguin, bots & more

From Panda to Penguin, authorship to HTTPS, search console and mobile index, here are my key points from the SMX Advanced talk with Google.

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Matt McGee live-blogged the SMX Advanced keynote with Google’s Gary Illyes, but I wanted to summarize the points made in that keynote that I felt were important, because there were many.


We learned last night that Google no longer uses authorship, not even for in-depth articles. So now it is safe to remove the authorship markup from your pages, almost two years since Google originally killed off authorship markup. Yes, I know that sounds backwards, but although Google announced they stopped using authorship, they didn’t fully stop using it until now.


Illyes, after a lot of questioning from Danny Sullivan, explained that you cannot optimize or do SEO for RankBrain. He added there are no “scores” for RankBrain — although he did say he will continue saying what Google has said in the past, that RankBrain is a ranking factor, even though it has no score like page speed, Panda, Penguin and other ranking signals may have.


Panda, Google’s content quality algorithm, is still a continuous update. But that update still happens very slowly and takes “months” to fully roll out each cycle. Google continues to crawl the web and assign a score to the site, and it takes months for that score to roll out to the index. So although Panda is continuous, it is not real-time, and it is slow.


In short, Illyes will not give a timeline on when the next version of Penguin will be released. He said the team is working on it, and he doesn’t want to give a date because he was wrong too many times about the release date.

AMP, Assistants & Bots

Danny Sullivan asked Illyes to tell SEOs something they should prepare for in the upcoming year or so. Illyes gave the audience two things: He said that AMP is going to be big, that SEOs and webmasters should think now about getting ready for AMP.

He also said that assistants, bots and chatbots are progressing and developing, and webmasters should pay attention to that area. One has to assume he was referring to not just the Google Assistant news from I/O, but also around all the usage of chatbots and various bots being used these days.

Mobile index

Illyes said Google is still working on a mobile-only index. The mobile-only index may be used for smartphone searches and be separate from the normal index. Currently, Google’s search results for desktop and mobile use the same index and almost all of the same ranking signals. Google is looking to separate some of them out. Google has told us in the past that they are experimenting with this, and Google is clearly still working on a mobile-only index.

Google Search Console more data

It looks like after three years since Google promised more data and longer history of data in the Google Search Console, it may be coming. Illyes said that the team is working on it and that the lead of the Google Search Console team was very “direct” with his team about making sure to give webmasters more history with their search analytics and other data in the Google Search Console.

When this will happen is still unclear, but the message Illyes delivered here was positive.

HTTPS Adoption

Illyes said that 34 percent of the Google index is now HTTPS — which is a very big growth trend for HTTPS. He also strongly recommended that webmasters consider migrating their websites from HTTP to HTTPS sooner, rather than later.

Those are my key takeaways from last night’s AMA with Google’s Gary Illyes.

About the author

Barry Schwartz
Barry Schwartz is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.

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