Running Amok at the Google Plex

In November I met up with Google Top Contributors from North and South America for Google’s TC Summit. Here’s ⅗ of my face with some really fantastic humans who like to help others with Google’s stuff.

2017 Google TCs

2017 Google Top Contributor Summit –

A little background: Google’s Top Contributor program is basically a group of hand-picked tech enthusiasts who hang around in Google’s product forums and help. I’m a part of the Webmaster Central Help Forum. We tackle all the stuff you associate with SEO, and then some. It’s wicked fun. I’ve been in that forum since around 2008 and before that in Google’s Sitemaps forum (when figuring out XML syntax was the fresh hot thing re: ~2005/6ish). It’s no wonder I have such a hoppin’ social life, yeah?

So, whatd’ya do?

Day 1 > General Fun


UX Studies

  • Per product 1:1 time with engineers to give feedback and test new tech (including some awesome stuff Google has coming s(w)oon). I participated in:
    • Search Console
    • Webmaster Central, and
    • VR mobile gaming. You guys, monster trucks driving on your table via your phone. *fist pump*


General Sessions

  • TCs from all of the different support forums are together for the first day. The day was full of:
    • BIG thank you’s from the Google teams for all of the TCs
    • Updates on the TC program/platforms
    • Google hardware – phones, laptops, Click, Home, Daydream, those fantastically magical ear buds I want to get my hands on, etc.
    • Details on the Google Assistant
    • Machine learning at Google
    • Loon in Peru
    • Oh, and we tested out the top volume on the new Google Home Max. It def goes to 11.


Day 2 > All Things Webmaster / SEO

This day is also known as Ashley’s Other Birthday. It’s a deep dive for Webmaster TC’s that’s chock-full of time with the engineers and product managers working on the tools & algorithms we really care about.

Made By Google


Mobile First Index

  • More about the phased-rollout and how that affects webmasters – some sites are already on the MFI, others may not be on for a long, long time. It’s all about readiness.
  • Looking for pages that are on the MFI? Look at the cache.
  • Changes in recommendations
    • Put your structured data markup on mobile pages too!
    • Hreflang
      • Mobile FR <-> mobile IT
      • Desktop FR <-> Desktop IT
    • Responsive should just work
    • No changes in rel=canonical or other markup

And of course, links? What about links to the desktop site when you have a separate site for mobile? Google *should* be able to fold all links to both the desktop/mobile URLs nicely so you get ‘credit’.

Google Canonical Maps




More info about the favorite kid in the family –

  • AMP as canonicals
  • AMP + PWAs
    • *pwamp*
  • AMP success metrics from the SERPs
    • 2x+ more time spent on AMP pages
    • 20% increase in sales conversions
      • It’s easy for Google to cherry pick case studies and we all know there are downsides to tossing resources into AMP, but I still think it’s worth exploring for most sites.
  • Stealing from AMP
    • Taking the code for AMP components but using it in otherwise “regular” pages. Can you do this? Yeah. Will it work? Probably / most of the time. It may bust some stuff. So, steal clean code but just make sure you test mkay?
  • But, AMP as canonical is a pretty cool idea and some sites are already doing it (check out,,,


Google Search Console

  • All of the new things! Lots coming! For the love of all that is holy give me more beta access, Google!
  • GSC became a sort of slow lumbering beast with a plate of spaghetti code over the years. Google is fixing that. And adding new things. GSC is going to be a lean and useful beast.
    • Lots to come, but my fav new feature is a link function to share static/visual reports similar to gdrive sharing.
    • I’m also digging the deeper focus on structured data. There’s so much you can do with the right markup. Stuck? We love exploring new ways to markup your content so don’t be shy. Google’s pushing SD to become more and more important especially with mobile-first and browser-less search results.
      • And big G is working on cleaning up some of that structured data spam we all see in the SERPs.
  • New & old GSC will run in parallel until data parity is reached


Webspam, Safebrowsing, Web Security

  • These are my favorite sessions! Eeek!
  • Spam
    • We saw interesting case studies on fighting international spam trends (and learned that Turkish hackers are probably the nicest) and got new information on how spam and spam links are handled these days.
  • Safe Browsing
    • The usual suspects: malware, phishing, UwS, social engineering, etc.
    • Implementing repeat offender policies that even I think are too nice.
    • Making sure webmasters know the biggest risks – I’m looking at you shifty ad networks and rando 3rd party plugins.
  • Web security
    • Google wants to educate webmasters to find, clean up, fix and resolve web security issues with a PWA that Google announced at I/O this year
      • Sign up here:
      • It’s pretty sexy. Seriously though, running a Linux server and full WordPress implementations in the browser that largely works offline. Holy hell it’s a fun way to promote web security education.


So…. Whatd’ya Learn?

Lots of things. All of the things. Details on existing stuff, new stuff, stuff coming soon. I am under NDA on a lot content so I’m limited on specifics I can share, but the TC program is meant to share info between TCs and Googlers so we can all give better help and do better work.


Other Shenanigans

I participate in the TC program because I like to help. I like the people (even the weird ones; especially the weird ones). I love technology and having a safe place to learn. And it feels really good to be recognized by Google. I’m a sucker for recognition and a pat on the back. I really love being able to take all of the goodness and bring it back to my work & my team here. Local SEO Guide cares about giving out really good SEO guidance and solving really tough problems and being a TC has helped prep me to be a small part of the bigger picture.


And now just for funsies

Photo booths. Oh god I love photo booths. And you may wonder, why am I such a jerk that I would position my gigantic head right in front of JohnMu? I don’t know. I just am.

TC Summit photobooth picture

My intrusively giant head

But it’s all good. When I had the chance to join the live Webmaster Hangout that week he got me back.

Webmaster Hangout still

John’s intrusively giant head

And because I’m a sentimental beast, here are a couple of my fave photos from the 2015 TC Summit.

TC Summit 2015 group photo

A Gaggle of Geeks

2015 TC fun photo

10/10 cool

2015 TC fun photo 2

srsly tho

The 2013 Summit was the year of the bottle of tequila & a conveyor belt of White Castle burgers (for real). I was invited, with my friend Sasch, to give a presentation to Googlers & other webmasters. OMG! And of course, 2013 was the year I took a pic with Cutts that allows me to photoshop him endorsing pretty much whatever. I take requests. 

Cutts computer photo

Say Anything

Totally legit.

Cutts computer 2

It’s true

2011… there was something about a pink feather boa I vaguely remember. The truth is out there, somewhere, on the internet. And if you find it definitely send those pics my way.

Fun, yeah? If you’re interested in the Top Contributor program – check out or start posting/helping in the Webmaster Central Forum. If you’re interested in damn good SEO guidance, reach out to the team here.

TC Summit Stage

The main stage

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