So on August 1st 2018, Google rolled out an algorithm update that was loosely coined ‘the medic update’. This term was suggested by Barry Schwartz of Seroundtable and was so named because it was initially said that a very high proportion of Medical related sites had been hit with some massive players literally seeing their search traffic nuked overnight by Google.
As a professional SEO this update has had a lot of us scratching our heads, because the quality of the SERPS has not actually improved seemingly, which was the alleged intention of the update.
Danny Sullivan of Google confirmed that this was a broad scope core algorithm update in his tweet on the matter
This doesn’t really give much information to webmaster as is typical of Googles updates, but these are some areas that you should look at to cover your bases. Typically there is a whole range of issues that have been address in this update, and finding out which ones are relevant to your own site requires a full drilldown of your current site and it’s profile.
How to succeed at SEO on Google
+ dealing with the fallout from the medic update
There are 11 Critical Factors you should focus on:
1 – Target the right search queries
2 – Make your site very crawlable and accessible for Googlebot
3 – Quality and number of backlinks
4 – User intent satisfaction (does your webpage satisfy users? low bounce rate?)
5 – Unique Content (are all your articles unique?)
6 – Expertise, authoritativeness and Trust (EAT)
7 – Content Freshness
8 – Click through rate
9 – Page Speed
10 – Fully responsive and built for mobile devices
11 – Domain age and Domain Trust
Because the medic update hasn’t really matured a lot we are not going to start coming up with spurious theories on ‘how can I fix my site after the Google medic udpate’ just yet! The reasons for this are varied but primarily because we do not yet know what the main areas behind this update are. The medic update was titled as such because it seemed to affect a large proportion of medic sites, indeed a survey done by seroundtable of 300 sites asked webmaster what industry they were in and almost 50% were in the health space. This led to a belief that EAT was a large part of the update, as shown in the excellent write up by Marie Haynes here which mused that YMYL (your money your life) sites may have been the focus of the update.
That article however was in the early days of the update and a broader scope of sites has since been shown to be affected. But could it be EAT as the main driving factor behind ranking loss?
It is possible. in the health sector, but other SERPS that we have been analysing in different sectors show wildly varying results, with low quality single page sites outranking true quality content on more establised sites..
Here is how the above 11 factors can affect your site and how to address them
1 – Targetting the right keywords is crucial in building or improving traffic to your site. There is no pointing in ranking high for a query that nobody is searching for. I advise using longtail pro or semrush for your keyword research.
2 – On page SEO is another crucial area to ensure your site is maximising it’s SEO potential with Google and the other search engines.
3 – Backlinks – Always a contender for one of the key areas of being ranked by Google, regardless of what their PR machine says. You can read our guide on backlinks soon.
4 – User intent in short this means your content needs to make a good user experience, does it provide the information and experience that are valued by a visitor?
5 – Unique Content – More and more content is being rehashed on the internet, regorged, rewritten and reposted. You need to provide content that is truly unique and that creates a valuable resource.
6 – Expertise, Authority and Trust – this section deserves many pages on its, own, which we are working on. For now though, be sure you have a full author page about you and your authors, list qualifications, credentials. experience, and links to prudent resources that prove these. For example if your a University Law Professor, be sure to link to the academic page about you on the university website.
7 – Content Freshness – Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people ignore it. Adding and refreshing content at regular intervals really does work.
8 – Click through rate – This relates to people reading your adverts or copy, and clicking through to continue their journey on your website. An essential area to master.
9 – Page Speed – a definate ranking factor but our real world tests shows some old, established sites with terrible page speed and on page optimisation still ranking in position one. This though is due to their authority and age, and unless your site is a big authority site, ranking p1 for many keywords, then you need to make your site as fast as possible. We will be making guides on this, including speccing a suitable server/hosting package and optimising your site.
10 – Google has moved to mobile first indexing and in doing this, put even more weight into a site being mobile responsive (fully) and offer a perfect mobile and tablet experience. Your site will be ranked in the SERPS on its mobile position once it is moved to mobile first indexing. You can use the Google Mobile Friendly test to see how your site performs.
11 – Domain Age and Domain Trust – a factor that plays into the whole ranking algorithm in a big way in our opinion.
12 – Random ranking factor. This is the secret sauce of an SEO and Google. Yet no SEO on the planet, even the best can say precisely what causes it. Our experience shows however that there is an element of randomness in some sites ranking better than others, even when their other factors (the 200 plus ranking factors) are worse than the sites they outrank happily.
I am a Digital Marketing and Organic SEO professional with over 20 years experience building and ranking websites. From small to large sites (including founding what is now one of the largest car forums in the world almost 15 years ago), I've been there and got the t-shirt and share my daily musings from working in search marketing full time!