Impacted by the Google Medic Update? Here’s How You Can Recover (Updated)

Search engine optimisation is constantly reacting to the daily updates Google makes to its search engine ranking algorithm. Most of these updates are minor and go unnoticed but some, like the Penguin and Panda updates, are major. In August 2018, Google dropped another significant update, nicknamed the Medic Update, that sent the world of SEO scrambling to recover diminished search rankings.

Are you worried that your site was affected by the Google Medic update? Well, don’t worry! We’re here to help. Here’s what you need to know about the Google Medic update: What it is, who it’s impacted, and how to recover if your rankings took a hit.

Google’s algorithm updates – a refresher

While Google releases minor algorithm updates almost every day, broad core updates are larger in scope and can significantly affect Google rankings. These normally occur on a limited basis – at most a few times a year – and can be very disruptive to those who work with Google rankings since a site could completely drop off the first page of search results, for example.

Background – What did we know about the Medic algorithm update in August?

The Medic Update rolled out on the 6th of August in 2018. According to Google’s Search Liaison on Twitter, Danny Sullivan, the process continued on until Wednesday, Aug. 8, when the rankings settled down to their new placements.

Sullivan also confirmed on Twitter that the update was global. Based on the longer timeframe and scope of this update, Google was making a firm attempt at significantly improving the quality of search results they are providing, aiming to promote sites unvalued by the previous algorithm.

What do we know about the Medic Update now?

The Google Medic update is a broad core algorithm update – that much we know is true. A broad core update is a change applied to Google’s very confidential search engine algorithm, which means Google will avoid specifics to protect their secret recipe. While Google offers few details about the update, they will at least confirm that an update has taken place. It then falls upon SEO experts to decode any changes in their search rankings.

According to Google, the Medic update is not penalising websites that have seen drops in their search rankings. Rather, it is rewarding sites that had previously been under-valued in their SERPs. In other words, if there are suddenly a bunch of sites ranking better than yours it’s because Google thinks they deserved higher rankings, not because yours deserved lower.

Were you affected by the Medic Update?

The Medic Update was a broad core algorithm update, which means it was global. Every site was affected. The best way to find out if your site was affected is to track your search traffic on Google Analytics and monitor your SEO rankings for any major, sustained changes.

However, even though the update was global, studies have shown that health and wellness and e-commerce sites seem to have suffered the bulk of the rankings fallout. Many SEO specialists think this means the Medic update targeted YMYL sites. We already know that Google reserves some of its highest editorial standards for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) sites because of the risks that bad advice in those fields pose to readers. If your site combines personal advice with financial transaction pages, you may want to review your rankings.

Google medic update pie chart by Barry Schwartz by Search Engine Round Table
Google medic update pie chart by Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Round Table


What can you do to recover from the Medic Update?

A number of sites have been severely affected by the effects of last year’s algorithm update. The figure below shows declining sessions over a monthly basis for an undisclosed website, with the site experiencing a steep decline of sessions between August to September. This just proves that Google updates are nothing to scoff at.

screenshot of Google Analytics data showing the effects of the Medic Update
Anonymous Google Analytics data for a website affected by the Medic Update

If your own data is showing similar values, what can you do from here?

Deliver Excellent Content

As is always the case, focus on delivering the highest quality content. The best thing for you to do if your site has been affected by the Medic update is to provide informative and engaging content that will build user trust in your brand and establish your authority in your field. Renew your commitment to E.A.T. (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust). These qualities are still the heart of online content. You should also regularly review your old content to ensure it contains current information. Update old posts rather than generate new ones that will leave you with duplicate content.

Address User Search Intent

It’s more important than ever that your content matches your users’ search intent. The quality of your content will never matter if it doesn’t align with what your users are searching for when they arrive at your site. Focus on SEO that will deliver your content to the right people, not just the most people.

Optimise for User Experience

Think about it, would you bother with content if the site was littered with intrusive ads? Would you scroll through a bunch of clutter to find what you came for? Will you get the information you need if you can’t find the content at all? Of course, you wouldn’t. Bad user experience can cancel all the user trust you stand to gain from excellent content. Make sure your site is easy to navigate, pleasant to look at, and the content your users are looking for is front and centre where it belongs.

Stay Away from SEO Shortcuts

Always play by the rules. Unchanged by the Medic update is the reality that cheating the search engines will never deliver you long-term, sustained SEO success. Black hat tricks like keyword stuffing, cloaking, and link farms will only hurt you in the long run. Don’t be seduced by the sugar high of a quick SEO boost. Do the hard work of becoming the best at what you do. That means informative, entertaining content, engaging user experience, and quality products and services.

Earn your place atop the SERPs

At the end of the day, Google is doing their best to make sure that the sites appearing atop their SERPs are the sites that most deserve to be there. Regardless of the impact the Google Medic update may have had on your site, the path to the top of the search rankings hasn’t changed. You may just have a little more work to do to get there.

Need help reaching your SEO potential? Call one of our Digital Marketing Consultants at 0800 732 724 or complete our contact form. Don’t forget to visit the Pure SEO blog for more information about SEO and Content Strategies.

Rachel Matela

Rachel is a Filipino Kiwi with a passion for the arts. Having graduated with an Arts Degree in English from UoA, she found writing work at PureSEO as a Junior Copywriter and quickly moved on to the role of Editor. In her spare time, she reads Austen and teaches dance classes in the weekend.

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