The Google Medic Update: Was Your Site Affected?
On average, there is a Google algorithm update 500 to 600 times per year.
Thankfully, most of these are minor alterations which have little effect on our SEO practices.
Every once in a while, however, a big one comes along which changes the rules of the game.
The latest, dubbed the Google Medic update, rolled out between the 22nd of July and the 7th of August this year. And as is typically the case, the SEO world is scrambling to determine exactly what it means.
Let’s take a look to see if it might have affected your site and what you can do.
Who Was Affected?
As usual, Google is tightlipped about what their updates do. Therefore, it’s up to the SEO industry itself to work out what’s happening.
Leading SEO industry writer Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable got the ball rolling by surveying over 300 websites which claimed to have been affected by the update.
The most significant finding was that a massive proportion of affected sites were in the health niche, such as fitness, healthy living, dietary advice, and medicine.
In fact, a whopping 42% fell within the above categories.
Why Was It Called Google Medic?
Due to these striking statistics, Barry Schwartz coined the name “Google Medic” which has since stuck.
Everyone in the industry is now referring to it by this name.
What Was the Scope of the Google Medic Update?
Danny Sullivan, the public relations face of Google’s search engine confirmed on Twitter the update was global, which means it affected all regions across the world.
He later added, “It’s a broad core update which means it is involving all searches.”
Barry Schwartz believes it is among the biggest updates we’ve seen in at least a year.
Marie Haynes, on the other hand, takes it a step further. She says the update is one of the biggest she’s ever analyzed. And that’s a pretty big claim considering she’s been in the business for quite some time.
How Has It Affected SERP?
In Marie Haynes’ analysis, she concludes that most sites were not affected at all. However, those that were seemed to have taken quite a hit.
Who Else Was Affected?
Google didn’t focus this update purely on medical sites.
Other niches that reported significant changes in Schwartz’s survey include e-commerce (16%), business (10.8%), finance (7.3%), and technology (5.9%). Some saw modest gains while others suffered massive losses.
So while health may have taken the biggest hit this time around, it wasn’t the only niche to have been affected.
Above all, the update appears to have most heavily hurt YMYL style websites across all kinds of niches, especially health.
What Is a YMYL Website and How Were They Affected?
Your Money or Your Life is the acronym in question.
It’s a little confusing, though, because the M stands for a lot more than money.
Google is referring to websites which can have an impact on the safety, finances, happiness, or health of the reader. Think mommy blogs or financial advice.
Google wants to ensure only reputable YMYL sites rank well, and they do so by an evaluation formula known as E-A-T.
- Expertise: how well the author knows their stuff.
- Authority: are they a valued and recognizable authority?
- Trustworthiness: Is the content reliable and accurate?
Google evaluates these metrics using a team of 10,000 or more human researchers around the globe.
For more info on YMYL which comes straight from the horse’s mouth, check out Google Search Quality Evaluation Guidelines.
My YMYL Site Is in Trouble, What Can I do?
YMYL site owners need to focus on showing off their credentials.
In short, you must let Google’s evaluators know you’re E-A-T is on point.
- Crank out quality content on your niche on a regular basis to establish yourself as a subject matter expert
- Let everyone (including Google) know how knowledgeable you are on your homepage through valid claims
- Show off your education on your bio, from bachelors degrees to PhDs
- Include official logos every time you adhere to international standards
Authority is different from expertise. It’s more about how much of an expert you are perceived to be, rather than your actual knowledge and qualifications.
- Use testimonials with quotations and photos of others in the industry who praise your work
- Volunteer to speak at conferences and events to build your authority
- Show off any industry-specific conferences you have attended and identify yourself as a keynote speaker (if applicable)
- List any endorsements from companies and individuals
Make sure all your content:
- Is expertly-written.
- Has a wide variety of visual elements such as: images, videos, and/or illustrations.
- Is structured in the form of: tables of contents, metadata,bullet points, headers, and pull quotes.
- Uses a good number of dofollow outbound links (links to 3rd party) to high quality, relevant and authority sources for reference.
- Shows your Author Markup or Author Bio that links to a real person.
- Be careful to avoid any factual errors
- Encourage others in the industry to peer review your work
- Write legitimate case studies to demonstrate how you’ve helped people in the past
What Has Google Said About the Update?
Not much, which is hardly surprising considering their past disclosures around large updates have always been tight-lipped.
What Can I Do About it?
Again, Google won’t be giving any pointers to websites which have been negatively affected by the change. After all, that would kind of defeat the purpose of the whole exercise.
However, you might do well to take this past pearl of wisdom into account:
There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 12, 2018
Content is King
Okay, this is a bit of a cheesy industry cliche. But it holds true now more than ever.
Google is getting better at filtering out low-quality and untrustworthy content.
You want to make sure you’re stuff is the goods.
Most businesses don’t have the time or in-house expertise to produce content themselves, so it’s often worthwhile outsourcing the task.
SEO Practices Are Still in
Get Some Professional Help
A one-stop shop SEO agency such as Squawkia is the best bet for getting your SERPS back on track, even if you happen to be a YMYL health writer after this devastating Google Medic update.
If not, these services will still prove to be an invaluable asset in your companies’ digital marketing strategy by helping you game Google’s algorithm.