What you need to know about Google’s Medic Update
During August, Google rolled out a massive algorithm change known as the “Medic” Core Update. Although we knew it was coming (it has been in the wind for three years), no-one could predict the level of change it would bring about.
It is still early days as the algorithm ‘settles’, but here is what we know so far:
Core changes to search result ranking factors
For more detailed analysis please visit Can I Rank.
- The crux of the update is centred on heavily awarding “authoritative” sites rather than “lifestyle” sites – websites which have Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust (EAT) factors. These elements are covered in the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. EAT aims to weed out low-quality sites in favour of those containing safe, genuinely helpful information, services and products.
‘Tone of voice’ has also been impacted. Medic looks to be favouring third person content rather than first & second person content, while penalising laymen speak and colloquial content.
As SEO benefits deriving from subjectivity and the first/second person narrative are being scaled back, any sites which make grand claims, i.e. “We are the Lifestyle Experts” without anything to back up these claims (reputable links, industry awards etc.) are likely to suffer. For more detailed analysis, please visit Can I Rank. The pie chart below shows that if your pages are written in a professional and/or expert tone of voice, you’re more likely to gain ground in search engine rankings, but if they’re written in layman tone of voice, you’re more likely to lose ranking spots.
While it is too early to say with complete confidence, at this stage it does appear the update has also had an impact on meta-titles. We’re seeing a return to Google greatly favouring and almost immediately rewarding less subjective, keyword rich meta-titles with search result boosts. However, proceed with caution and take care not to overstuff keywords into titles as this is a tactic previous Google updates sought to penalise.
While the Medic Core update impacts the medical and lifestyle industries hardest, other sectors have been hit to varying degrees. Google is still receiving the same number of searches every day. This means that for every site that has had a drop, another has gained traffic. Therefore, a site that reacts to this update faster than their competitors may regain more ground than they lost.
Medic mayhem! A real world example
As an example, consider a site such as LiveStrong.com, which talks about “mood boosting benefits of flowers” and has its pages packed with ads. It took a massive hit, with up to a 60% loss in traffic.
How to survive & thrive in the wake of Medic
As it’s unlikely Google will roll out any more major algorithm changes through the rest of this year, now is the time to audit your website.
Has Google given you a boost in lieu of Medic, or have you been penalised in search results?
- Check how your content is written. Is it using first, second or third person tone of voice?
- Is your site SSL secure? Though recommended for all websites, SSL is especially a must for ecommerce sites as site visitors are far less inclined to make online purchases over unsecured networks. SSL = trust.
- Check how trustworthy and authoritative your content is. Do you sound like you’re an expert in your field? Most importantly do you have the ammo to back it up such as credentials/staff bios, industry awards, credible links to trusted sources (i.e. LinkedIn & industry leaders), positive client testimonials and disclosure of terms and conditions. Anything which can help build your businesses’ trust and authority while showcasing your expertise is vital!
- Are you using keywords sparingly in your page content and are your meta-titles keyword rich, stopping just short of keyword stuffing?
For more tips on what Google bases it’s rankings off of, familiarise yourself with the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
If you have any concerns about your website and would like a professional review, please contact the SEO specialists at Kook.