Google’s Medic Update August 2018

Google’s Medic Update August 2018

Google confirmed that a new algorithm update rolled out in August 2018, nicknamed the Medic Update. While the impact of the update is still being discovered and dissected, we do know what the update was targeting and have a few strategies for you to take advantage of August 2018 Google update.

Important sections:
E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust Matters
Data From Tools & Ranking Trackers About Google Medic Update
What can you do to take advantage of the Google Medic Update or shore up lost rankings?
Specifics on the Your Money Your Life (YMYL) quality guidelines

Google is saying that the update was broad and far reaching, it was global in nature and it is part of the core algorithm that was update. The nickname given to the update comes from the fact that many medical or health related sites are starting to see an impact from the change. In 2013 Google had an update to their quality standards for sites falling under the category of “Your Money Your Life” or YMYL sites. These sites are those that offer advice or collect information about your personal information, banking, health records, major life decisions (like buying a home or car), and financial and credit card suggestions. Now 5 years later it seems that Google’s latest update is focusing specifically on health and medical sites in this category.

E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust Matters

One main area of focus that we see in early data is E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust). These three factors need to be in place on your website, otherwise Google is seeing you as a lower quality authority in some very important categories of search!

Google Says… “As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.”

Data From Tools & Ranking Trackers About Google Medic Update

Google August Medic Update Impact

A few different data providers and SEO tool companies are confirming the niche focus of the update, and they are only showing a few percentages up and down changes in rankings. One site that seems to have had a nearly 50% drop in keyword rankings is Prevention.com. Non niche sites that were impacted include Minted.com (DIY), Pandora.com (Jewelry), Forever21.com (clothing) and Travelocity.com – all experiencing at least a 33% drop in rankings.

Companies that benefited from the Google Medic Update include Carfax.com (68% increase), Rent.com (42% increase), HealthLine.com, Ebay.com, and Medlineplus.gov.

RankRanger is a tool that allows you to look at industry specific ranking trends. Judging by the graph below, the Family & Life-cycle niche (blue) and the Health & Fitness niche (green) both have seen a drastic drop in organic ranking visibility following the Google Medic Update.

What impact did Google's Medic update have on rankings?

The SEMRush Sensor was blinking bright red with this update, rating the overall update a 9.4 on the scale of 0-10. The high rating is in part due to the breadth of the ranking updates that they are seeing. Here’s a sample of the industries that they saw a high level of scale updates:

9.4 Arts & Entertainment
9.4 Beauty & Fitness
9.4 Health
9.4 Hobbies & Leisure
9.4 Home & Garden
9.4 Internet & Telecom
9.4 Jobs & Education
9.4 Law & Government
9.4 News
9.4 Online Communities
9.4 People & Society
9.4 Sports
8.7 Travel

MOZ posted updates about the ranking changes and is showing a heavy change in rankings for sites in the category of Health, Vehicles, Beauty & Personal Care. These are core categories that see a lot of ranking changes on a general day, but on the date of the update, many were wildly changing. Dr. Pete Meyers at Moz had a good take on the update: “At first glance, the “Health” category does appear to be the most impacted. Keywords in that category had a daily average temperature of 124°F. Note, though, that all categories showed temperatures over 100°F on August 1st – this isn’t a situation where one category was blasted and the rest were left untouched. It’s also important to note that this pattern shifted during the other three days of heavy flux, with other categories showing higher average temperatures. The multi-day update impacted a wide range of verticals.”

What can you do to take advantage of the Google Medic Update or shore up lost rankings?

First, determine if you have lost rankings and are currently losing traffic due to the updates. Check out Google Webmaster Tools/Console data to determine if there were daily changes in August so far.

Second, if you were impacted, there are a few different elements of your website and it’s footprint that you can evaluate. Links may be a factor, but it appears that this update is more about the content of the website, rather than the links pointing to it. That being said, having a low about of 3rd party links and citations is a problem that you should always be addressing.

As in the history of SEO, there is never just one answer to why a site has been impacted by an update. Sometimes the entire site’s structure needs to be evaluated, sometimes you’re missing a key page or piece of information, and often the content (or lack of quality) is the problem.

Specifics on the Your Money Your Life (YMYL) quality guidelines provided by Google in 2013

Your Money or Your Life” pages are those focused on money and life events. The Google raters’ guideline defined them as:

  • Pages that solicit personal information, such as personal identification numbers, bank account numbers, drivers license numbers, etc., which could be used for identity theft.
  • Pages used for monetary transactions, on which users might give their credit account or bank account information; for example, any page that allows you to buy something.
  • Pages that offer medical or health information that could impact your physical well-being.
  • Pages offering advice on major life decisions, such as pages on parenting, purchasing a home, a vehicle and so on.
  • Pages offering advice on major life issues that could impact your future happiness and finances, such as pages giving legal or financial advice.
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Scott Fish

Scott Fish is the CMO at Off Road, responsible for the business development team and managing the marketing delivery and client management team. During the past two decades, he has worked with growing companies around the world in evolving industries such as tourism, franchises, hotels, sports associations and cultural organizations. Scott is a founding board member of SEMpdx, the largest regionally focused digital marketing organization in the US. He creates strategies to drive more business and connect better with their customers.