On August 1, Google released another “broad core algorithm update.” Whenever Google updates their core algorithm, they are changing the search algorithm itself. Even the tiniest tweaks to the value and order of ranking factors could mean big shifts (sometimes up, sometimes down) to a website on the SERP (search engine results page).
In this latest core update, an overwhelming number of medical websites were affected, hence the name “Medic Update” given courtesy of Search Engine Land News Editor, Barry Schwartz. That being said, many other types of websites were also affected, including “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) websites.
To see if your site was affected, view your current rankings and compare them to your rankings prior to August 1. Do you see a big shift? Is it a negative one? Not to worry! We have 5 methods you can act on right now to combat the update if your site was negatively impacted.
1. Take Google’s Advice – Create Great Content
In response to possible Medic Update fixes, Google was short on remedies. Instead, they underlined their broadline stance on improving the user experience and “building great content.” Pretty vague.
However, Google does provide content frameworks you can use to improve your website. One framework has a particularly yummy acronym that is easy to follow: E-A-T. This is actually so important that some SEOs are reflecting on the Medic Update as really the EAT Update. Here’s what EAT stands for: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Here’s what you can do:
- Support your claims, products, and services with expert advice. Interview the experts and publish their statements.
- Introduce well-known guest bloggers with high-quality reputations.
- Partner with accredited associations or professionals. Include bylines and bios.
- Don’t make unsubstantiated or harmful claims: focus on facts.
- Visualize your data with informational imagery
- Use good outbound links
2. Think about User Intent
People visit your website with certain expectations. They are seeking information. They want solutions to their problems. And what Google tries to do is to accurately assess the intent of searchers so that the websites they display are relevant, with the most relevant at the top.
With the emergence of voice search (and Google’s attempt to align its algorithm with voice), positioning your content in a way that answers a question, could improve your ranking. For websites in the healthcare space, this means providing clear, fact-based, informational content that speaks to users’ specific questions about understanding or improving their wellness. Optimizing site content for targeted, more focused search is the recommendation here. Think about writing content around “How to create a walking plan to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” vs. “Walking to lose weight.”
3. Focus on What You Do
Remember the old days of pushing out new blogs every month, sometimes every week, to make sure your site was fresh with keywords? You could be the owner of a yoga studio while blogging about car maintenance, just as long as you used the words “downward dog” a few times. Well, those days are done.
When Google crawls your site, it wants to see a theme. And your users do too. You probably see pages on your site that don’t get any traffic at all due to their irrelevance. Google sees consistency as authority, and bloated websites with all-over-the-place content (that users don’t visit) aren’t very authoritative. Here’s what you do:
- Remove old pages that receive little to no traffic
- De-index irrelevant pages
- Make sure your indexed pages have unique content and backlinks
4. Maintain Your Technical SEO
Speedy websites never go out of style. Neither do great mobile ones.In fact, with recent updates, great mobile websites are prioritized by Google’s mobile-first approach to ranking. If you are doing everything right on the technical front, then your rankings will reflect that. Things to keep in mind:
- Prioritize load speed (less than 3 seconds)
- Focus on mobile-friendliness
- Use metadata and keyword-rich headers
- Create a logical site architecture
- Fix broken links
- Use internal linking, which point to other pages within the same website, is of particular significance for two big reasons: they enable pages to share ranking authority and they create a clear hierarchy of information, which Google values.
There are many more factors than just these.There are many great SEO companies which will provide you with a free SEO audit, allowing you to see how your site is currently performing and discover ways it can improve.
5. Again, Take Google’s Advice – Check the Guidelines
Google isn’t entirely unhelpful when it comes to success on the SERP. Their 150+ page set of guidelines is publicly available to anyone wanting some insight into how to improve their rankings. Take a look at Part 1, sections 3 through 5, for an overview of page quality rankings and the characteristics of high-quality pages (you’ll see E-A-T here again).
Google is notoriously tight-lipped about what happens when they update their search algorithm, making updates somewhat of a mystery. This creates a waterfall of reports and insights from industry experts trying to assess what the core updates actually meant for their websites’ search rankings.
So while we aren’t certain what happened in August, we can make a few educated guesses. Overall, knowing that this latest core update affected sites pertaining to physical, personal, and financial wellness and knowing what kinds of scammy websites are already out there, it seems like Google is trying to crack down on false, even harmful information. While the “great content” advice seems vague, there is a clear path to success, and for the most part, it means listening to Google.