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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.
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.
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
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.
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 Hobbies & Leisure
9.4 Home & Garden
9.4 Internet & Telecom
9.4 Jobs & Education
9.4 Law & Government
9.4 Online Communities
9.4 People & Society
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.”
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
Your Money or Your Life” pages are those focused on money and life events. The Google raters’ guideline defined them as: