On April 4th 2017, I had the opportunity to sit down at dinner with Gary Illyes and about seven other SEOs (including Paul Shapiro, who was the one who nicely invited me). We got to ask him questions and chat about SEO and Google.

Immediately after leaving, I got out my phone and recorded about 10 minutes of voice memos of everything I could remember from this dinner. We definitely heard some things I had not heard elsewhere (and a few things have since come out and confirmed since then).

After over two years, I’m finally sharing my raw, unedited voice memo with you 🙂

It was originally meant to be private — just really so I could remember all the stuff we learned, but I thought after some time has passed now, it might add value for anyone else who wants to listen.

Here are the general topics from the voice memo, in order.

NOTE: These are stated as ‘truths’ from April 2017 – remember things for sure could have changed by now, but at the time this was told to us as to how thing are.

Also, it starts a bit choppy as I’m randomly remembering stuff, but gets a lot more smooth (and I think interesting) as it continues.


  • AMP does not pass the mobile-friendly test.
  • Hidden JS content
  • Purchasing an old domain with old content
  • Changing the context and content of old URLs
  • Losing star snippets can indicate a sitewide issue
  • The structured data testing tool uses the same exact system as their algorithm
  • Panda is a sitewide signal, and they have an actual Panda score
  • 302s vs 301s and is this why Wired lost their traffic when going to https? (very surprising answer here)
  • Ignoring partial manual action penalties
  • What links are ALWAYS ok to remove or disavow (and not)
  • The old “topical authority” algo
  • Adding new low-quality URLs to a site
  • Knowledge boxes in the US but not Canada
  • How does Google know when a search like “ring” has a brand intent?
  • Google’s concept of a “site” (subfolders vs subdomains – what is a “site”?) and domain clustering
  • Sites that don’t need to worry about links in any way whatsoever
  • DA is OK as a metric, but one thing to be aware of
  • What is going to replace all manual actions
  • Sitewide signals were updated in the Feb 2017 update
  • Google does not click behind tabs etc (when fetching via JS is required) because they don’t want to end up in a secure or private area, or in a .php file etc
  • How to rank for big head keywords like “meat”


About Dan Shure

Hi! I'm Dan Shure. I write all of the posts and host all of the podcast episodes you'll find on the Evolving SEO blog. Say hello on Twitter @dan_shure!

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