1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. SEO

Google’s Gary Illyes On AI, Site Migrations, & “SEO Is Dead” Claims

Google Search Analyst Gary Illyes addresses AI, site migrations, and "SEO is dead" claims, offering insights for SEO professionals.

  • Google's Gary Illyes addresses fears over AI tools.
  • Illyes says improvements potentially on the way for hreflang markup.
  • Despite "SEO is dead" claims, Illyes affirmed the industry endures.

Following the recent SERPConf event, Google Search Analyst Gary Illyes shared insights that provided a glimpse into the latest trends and challenges in the SEO world.

His LinkedIn post touches on a range of topics, from technical issues to the role of AI, providing a thorough overview of the industry’s current state.

Addressing hreflang Frustrations

One key discussion area was the ongoing struggle with hreflang, a markup that indicates a website’s language and regional variations.

Illyes acknowledged the difficulties, stating, “hreflang is annoying. I don’t disagree.”

However, he was open to finding a better solution, adding:

“I’m still very open to coming up with something less annoying, but it needs to work for small sites and mammoths as well, while delivering at least the same amount of information.”

Related: 6 Common Hreflang Tag Mistakes Sabotaging Your International SEO

The AI Conundrum: Fear vs Innovation

The rise of AI, particularly generative AI, was a hot topic at the conference.

While some attendees expressed concerns, Illyes offered a balanced perspective.

“AI is a tool that you can use and, just like with any tool, misuse. It’s not in any way different from any other feature accessible to you.”

He encouraged SEOs to “use it as you like, liberally and innovatively” but cautioned against contributing to the abundance of low-quality content already present online.

Site Migrations: A Persistent Challenge

Another area of concern highlighted by Illyes was the ongoing issue of site migrations gone wrong.

“This shouldn’t happen,” he stated, urging webmasters who have experienced prolonged issues with site migrations to contact Google for assistance.

Read: A Guide To Enterprise-Level Migrations (100,000+ URLs)

The Persistent “SEO is Dead” Myth

Addressing the recurring claim that SEO is becoming obsolete, Illyes dismissed it as a cyclical phenomenon.

“Every single time something changes on search engines there’s a plethora of posts published about how SEO is dead now,” he remarked.

Drawing from the history of search engines, he added:

“Looking at the history of search engines and according to these posts, SEO has been dying since cca 2003. Hell of a slow death.”

Read also: Will AI Replace SEO Specialists?

Why SEJ Cares

As SEO evolves, with AI and other emerging technologies playing a prominent role, Illyes’ insights show there are both challenges and opportunities.

His willingness to address concerns head-on and acknowledge areas for improvement may foster a more open dialogue between Google and SEO professionals.

How This Can Help You

There are several key takeaways for SEO professionals:

  • Stay tuned for potential hreflang improvements. Illyes suggested that changes could be on the horizon.
  • Embrace AI responsibly. Illyes encourages SEO professionals to explore these technologies innovatively while emphasizing the importance of maintaining high standards and producing quality content.
  • Reach out to Google regarding site migration issues. With site migrations being a pain point, Illyes’ recommendation to escalate prolonged issues highlights the need for proactive communication with Google.
  • Tune out the “SEO is dead” noise. Illyes offered a reality check for those overwhelmed by doomsday narratives. Understanding that the industry has weathered similar claims can help you maintain focus.

Featured Image: fran_kie/Shutterstock

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google’s Gary Illyes On AI, Site Migrations, & “SEO Is Dead” Claims

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.