Google Medic: Do you need a health-check?

  • 09/08/2018
  • SEO
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Google Medic UpdateEvery now and then Google moves the goal posts of search engine marketing in a rather significant way. Of course, Google’s ‘search algorithm’, the equation which analyses and ranks one site over another, is updated several times a day. But sometimes a new series of updates is rolled which has major implications for online marketers.

On 1 August 2018, Google launched a new ‘core’ update and rolled it out over a seven day period across the world in all regions and in all languages. Based on the findings of SEO professionals from around the world, the focus seems to be on medical and health related websites.

Google Medic Update - How To FixThe objective of the update seems to be based on very sound ethical principles however. Google appears to have tried to downgrade dubious medical and health related websites which might not be credible or which might mislead consumers into making unsound decisions.

Despite this, Google has not confirmed that these kind of sites were the intended focus of the update as they have done in the past. Nor has it revealed what percentage of queries that will be affected (as before).

Consequently, the update has been nicknamed the ‘Medic Update’ by online marketers in a bid to quantify the type of sites which might be affected. However, the story doesn’t end there. The update seems also to have had a dramatic effect on ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) type sites whilst also creeping into the entertainment, gaming and gambling sectors. Unfortunately the travel sector doesn’t escape either…

Your money or your life!

Your money or your life (YMYL) content can be classified as follows:

  • Any page that allows you to buy something. Therefore sites that perform monetary transactions, where users might give their credit account or bank account information are at risk.
  • Pages that collect personal information, such as date of birth, credit card numbers, driving license numbers etc. which might be used for identity theft.
  • Sites that offer medical or health information that could impact your well-being.
  • Content which offers advice on major decisions, such as pregnancy, mortgages, vehicle leasing etc.

In a detailed analysis by searchengineland.com, which analysed data from Sistrix, RankRanger, SEMRush and MOZ, it was found that many sectors outside of the medical and health spheres were also affected. The ‘medic’ moniker for this update therefore is rather misleading at first glance. Whilst many sites were adversely affected (see below for examples), there were also winners.

Losses/Gains In Rankings (USA) – 9 August 2018

The Losers
Prevention.com -53%
Patient.info -52%
Pandora.com -36%
Spine-Health.com -33%
Travelocity.com -33%

The Winners
Carfax.com +68%
Costco.com +23%
Ebay.com +18%
Nasdeq.com +18%
Eventbrite.com +18%

How can I protect myself?

If you’re reading this and thinking “this doesn’t affect me as I am not in the healthcare sector” then you might want to think again. Moz has shared its temperature rating for various sectors after the update was launched. As you can see, there are many sectors that have been affected outside of the ‘health’ and ‘medical’ fields.

Moz-Medic-Update-Temperature-Changes

Image courtesy of Moz

If you have seen a drop in rankings and associated traffic since 1 August 2018, what can you do to remedy the situation? A full SEO site audit will help you to identify problem areas on your site. Think about the information you aim to collect via your site and whether any of your content falls within Google’s YMYL target areas. Ensure any advice you offer is credible and well referenced. Lastly, it would be prudent to properly check your backlink profile to make sure that you do not have any links from sites which may fall foul of Google latest medic update.

If you feel that your site could benefit from a health-check, Onvigil is here to help. We routinely help our clients to improve both their content and their external link network to protect both rankings and traffic volumes. We look forward to hearing from you.

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