From Healthcare to E-Commerce, here's all you need to know about the Google Medic Update.
By: Billy Ash, CDO, Today’s Business
“I used to say if you wanted to show up on Google you needed to have a page dedicated to it on your website. That is no longer the case.”
If you’ve noticed your website drop drastically in the search rankings in the last month or so, chances are you have fallen victim to Google’s latest algorithm update. In my opinion, the Google medic algorithm update is the biggest update since mobile indexing. This update has severely impacted Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages, which includes but is not limited to:
*Other pages include if determined dangerous if done by the average layman (IE. Car Repair)
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....— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 12, 2018
While the key term here is ‘medic’, this is a broad core update which involves all searches, not just the medical vertical. Here at Today’s Business, we have seen everything from 40% increases to 40% decreases in a variety of industries, which makes this the most impactful update since Mobilegeddon in April 2015. The most frustrating thing about this update is that there is no “Quick Fix” for those sites who saw a negative impact.
There is a high chance we may soon not show up in your search results anymore. Please use the search on the PsychonautWiki and bookmark the site!— PsychonautWiki (@PsychonautWiki) September 18, 2018
We are being suppressed from a daily growing number of keywords since the August 1st Google "Medic" Core Update. pic.twitter.com/izXP13Uf9w
The August 1, 2018 Google Update Strongly Affected YMYL Sites (Medic Update): I have been covering algorithm updates for a long time and this is one of the biggest updates that I can recall. It is important to note that most sites that I monitor did not… https://t.co/elTvbOsZ39 pic.twitter.com/Xin7dR5BB9— The Tiggerito Times (@TiggeritoTimes) September 18, 2018
Now more than ever, Google is prioritizing quality content and user intent, which is why I recommend taking a deep dive into your SEO strategy before years end. Instead of harping on what happened, focus on what you can do to make your site better by utilizing these five techniques.
1. E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
Google’s update has been based around assuring that the information in SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) is correct and engaging. That is based around having trust in the authority and having trust in the content for each website they portray. This all falls under the E-A-T: the experience, the authority, and the trust.
Some of the best ways to represent these to Google are:
- The page has associated content on the website which is linked to properly and easily navigable
- The website includes enough Informational Pages (About Us, Contact, Customer Service) that make it easy for your visitors to learn and contact you; Especially important for e-commerce
- The website is maintained and updated regularly
Meanwhile, examples of low-quality pages include:
- Misleading page titles that are exaggerative or shocking
- Pages have content that can have the potential to spread hate
- Pages that potentially misinform or deceive users
- Pages have an unsatisfying amount of content for the purpose of the page
Put yourself in Google’s shoes. The Internet is full of nonsense, we all know it. They just have the daunting task of filtering it. Google’s objective is to not only provide the correct information but making sure its users receive the best experience once they leave that site. That just happens to include a lot more things now.
2. Prioritize Query Intent
The Google search results page has drastically changed throughout time, and the days of 10 search results in blue links are long gone. The results page is made up of the Semantic SEO:
- Local Search Results (Mappack)
- Google Images
- Knowledge Graph/Answer Boxes
- Featured Snippets
- Rich Cards/News
- Vertical Search
- People Also Ask
- Shopping Results and more
Google is trying to drive more engagement within the search results page and keeping you within their ecosystem. This is why you see stats like 60% of Google mobile searches do not result in a click because Google is giving you answers in your results.
Google’s search results page differs from YouTube or Amazon in the simple fact that people are not just looking for a product or a video, they are going to Google for both. Users are expecting the correct results for every conceivable area and it is Google’s job to classify the question and in the next step present the right matches to the user.
How does this affect you? As previously stated, Google’s latest algorithm update has strongly impacted query intent. As we covered in section one, when a user is utilizing Google, in general, they have a specific question but they may only enter certain search terms. Their expectation for the results is completely dependant on the ‘intention’ of their query. In order for Google to deliver the expected result, the search process must also understand the intention behind the query.
Going into 2019, individual location and service pages are going to be critical for local businesses to succeed in organic search. Just like when trying to answer questions, when thinking about what to include on your location pages, consider what users are going to be looking for when they are on those pages. Reviews, directions, hours, and accommodations can all be utilized to create strong, location based content.
3. Importance of Semantic SEO
Over 60% of mobile Google searches do not involve a click. This is because when users are typing into Google, they are asking a question that the search engine is then able to provide an exact answer for. This latest update has also taken a big jump into a higher authority on Semantic SEO.
Search results are becoming more dynamic, where categories can easily be scanned, selected and let you change all your results to be relevant to a subtopic. You can see this live now for some dog breeds and other topics will come. https://t.co/biKO3hXb5W pic.twitter.com/CganYbcy4d— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) September 24, 2018
But what is Semantic SEO? It is metadata that provides Google and other search engines more context about the content on your website. It is great for many different types of information, like recipes, business locations, definitions/exact questions, and the list is growing as Google begins to support additional schema types. Using Semantic SEO helps increase your website’s chances of appearing as the featured snippet, or position zero, on search results.
Google has also taken one extra step into auto defining words on Chrome browsers without even involving a search. When generating content on your website, you should consider writing in a tone that explains the answer thoroughly but directly, with the semantic code included so that Google knows what question and answer you are providing.
4. Blog For Engagement, Not SEO
Just as your service pages should include quality content that answers potential questions, your blog content should be equally informative and engaging for the user. One of the biggest things the Medic Update has done is penalize blogs with too many ads on them. Google wants you to not only provide the right answer, but also an optimized user experience. Blogs that are just static content with no images, graphs or breakups have seen significant decreases, whereas thorough blogs with relative images and engaging content have seen a drastic increase.
As the Internet develops, your blog is no longer a place for you to add content for SEO purposes. Google now sees it as a place for users to engage on your website and participate in the conversation. Additional metrics like social engagement, average session duration, as well as the overall markup of the page seem to be some of the ultimate outliers in who saw your blog and who didn’t.
For blogging, another change based on the Medic Update is the importance of outbound links to high authoritative websites. Google has put a precedent on not only having one point of view. Setting up bio and about pages to prove your blog author has experience, authority, and trust is critical, but Google still wants more. Including high authority outbound links makes your blog look more credible simply because you are linking to sources that Google already trusts. In similarity to how having an inbound link adds domain authority, an outbound link to an authoritative page adds to your quality rating score.
5. Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to determining what quality content means for your website, ask yourself:
- Is my content answering questions or providing value?
- Are there relative search terms and query intents that will drive people to my website?
When a user conducts a search on Google, they have an expectation of what the search results are going to look like and they know the type of experience they want to have. This latest algorithm change has provided Google the opportunity to grade your website on just that. In the past, you probably had one service page with a bulleted list. Now, if your page has any bullets on it, the bullet should probably have its own page. Your content should go from broad to specific and funnel down accordingly.
I used to say if you wanted to show up for Google you needed to have a page dedicated to it on your website. That is no longer the case. That being said, always be sure to talk about things that are relative to the services you provide and don’t stretch it. When writing thorough content, always remember that you need to be answering the question. Trouble for brands comes when they are not creating unique content from each service offering and choosing to cut corners instead. In addition, it’s important to know when you shouldn’t build a new page but build out the page instead.
Where do we go from here?
At this point in time, we can only fully understand certain things. We understand that Google wants quality and they want users to get their questions answered in one place. And finally, we realized that anything that was half-assed previously is going to hurt you tomorrow.
If your website taken a hit or reaped the benefits since the medic update, I’d love to hear about it! Share your thoughts with me below.