What Is The Google Medic Update?
On August 1st, 2018 Google rolled out a new core update to their search ranking algorithm, dubbed by the SEO community as The “Google Medic Update”. This was a BIG update, and likely the biggest change we’ve seen in SERPs since the Penguin update in 2012. As always, the purpose of the update was to ensure the highest-quality user experience possible for all the people who use the California-based internet search giant’s services, but it’s had knock-on effects for businesses operating across a range of industries.
So what happened? Following the update, some companies in the medical, fashion, e-commerce, and affiliate marketing industries saw a drop in their rankings for no apparent reason. Companies that had been on the first page of results for a keyword, suddenly found themselves on the second or third, leading to a drop in traffic.
All in all, estimates suggest that more than 46 percent of businesses were affected in some way by the Google medic update, meaning that millions of companies could potentially be losing out right now.
How do you know if you’ve been affected by the medic update?
The best indication that you may have been affected is if you saw a sudden drop in your search rankings after August 2018. Medical websites were affected almost immediately (hence the moniker, Google medic update), but shortly afterward, the changes began to affect a vast swathe of sites, as discussed above.
It’s critical, therefore, that you make changes to your website and SEO to counter the amendments made by Google and make your site appealing once more to the new search ranking parameters.
The following will show you how to recover from the Google medic update. Let’s take a look.
Re-Establish Your Site’s Credibility
Although it is not necessary to have qualifications or experience before giving out quality information over the internet, Google believes that having credentials increases the authority of information on a page. This is good news for people with great bios, but bad news for those without.
Google’s changes affected websites containing medical information first because the search giant wants to make sure that the people behind them have relevant experience and knowledge to offer quality, informed advice. But, of course, authority changes affect people giving information across a range of industries, so the new credential changes don’t just apply to the medical sector.
The easiest way to combat the changes is to include a bio on your website, detailing your skills and qualifications.
It’s also a good idea to follow a three-step process to prove your credibility each time you create new content.
- Step 1: Generate Trust. Readers are becoming a lot more discerning about the content they consume on the internet. And, thanks to comments sections and social media, they can communicate with each other to dissect what you say. It’s a good idea, therefore, to avoid creating tenuous arguments based on shaky evidence or linking to studies which purport to prove your points but which, in reality, provide little direct evidence supporting your claims.
- Step 2: Report Your Credentials On Each Blog Post. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to leave a short bio at the end of content that they produce. The bio should include details about the qualifications, experience, and background of the person who created the piece.
- Step 3: Generate Authority. Authority is the name that search engines give to the creators of content based on the level of recognition they receive from other entities. For instance, if your website has links from popular business magazines, like Forbes or Business Insider, then Google will interpret this as you having authority (because you’ve been able to attract the attention of established and respected organizations). You can also generate authority by receiving awards from well-recognized rating organizations like JD Power, Pulitzer or BBB.
Focus on EAT
EAT is an acronym for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. EAT has been a part of the guidelines for years, but there was a new emphasis on EAT in 2018.
Google wants to feature content written by experts, so write better content!
Don’t Create Websites With Hidden Agendas
Although most businesses are upfront about which websites they own, some aren’t. For instance, a company might create a review website to favorably review its products, and then create links from that site to its own, boosting the apparent rating of its products.
Google doesn’t like this kind of dishonesty, and so has improved its search tools to seek it out and punish it. If you’re operating a website like this, then it is probably prudent to shut it down in light of recent algorithmic changes. Additionally, CAE Marketing does not take these type businesses as clients.
Rewrite Content Around “Search Intent”
In the past, companies used to target keywords so that buyers would be immediately directed to their sales or landing pages. But the average buyer doesn’t type in a search term, go to a sales page, and then buy a product straight away. Instead, the route to conversion is more circuitous, and Google knows this.
The medic update was designed to direct the 70 percent of users who don’t make an immediate buy decision to informative content that gives them information about the products that the might need, not to sales pages themselves. And so if you offer products for sale through the internet, then it’s probably a good idea to create content which aids in the buying decision: blog posts, instructional videos, and interactive tools.
Increase Your PPC Budget
While you might want to stick with organic SEO methods, PPC has become considerably more visible since the release of the medic update. Data suggests that PPC visibility is up by more than 47 percent year on year, thanks to changes made by Google. (Google needs PPC to make money, so this should come as no surprise).
Although you might not want to use it, PPC can help retain your company’s online presence in the minds of customers in the aftermath of the Google medic update. You may need to purchase PPC space to remain ahead of the competition and remind customers during this transition phase that you’re still active and very much a leader in your area.
Check The Legitimacy Of Your Links
Companies used to be able to build high-ranking websites by getting links from practically any source. Links were seen as an indication that a page had authority (otherwise, why would anybody bother linking to it?). However, Google knows that some companies pay for links and others get them through questionable methods that are not useful to its users in an attempt to deliberately manipulate its algorithms.
Today, Google actively punishes company websites it believes are artificially elevated in search rankings, so it’s a good idea to distance your company from unnatural links. The good news is that disavowing links is easy – just use Google’s Disavow Tool.
Publish High-Quality, In-Depth Content
In the past, you could get away with poorly optimized pages, low-quality content, and website designed for desktop, not mobile. But Google has changed the rules to promote quality over quantity and discourage things like keyword stuffing.
If you want your website to rank well after the medic update, you can try adjusting your current optimization methods.
First, check the length of your content. Most high-ranking articles are between 1500 and 2500 words long. If your pieces are a little on the short side, find ways to add to their length.
Second, Google has changed the way keyword search terms work. There’s no longer any need to include the keyword verbatim to attract a higher ranking. Start using keywords in ways that are grammatically consistent.
Third, make sure that your content has real value. Google is becoming more adept at identifying “spun” content and promotes originality above copying.
Finally, start considering how your articles appear on the page. Walls of text are a big no-no. Include pictures, plenty of white space, and comments sections to foster engagement.
Using the methods above should help you recover from the worst of the Google medic update. CAE Marketing helps selected companies recover from the Google Medic Update. If you believe your site was affected by this update and would like for us to help you recover, please contact us.
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