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Team Smithy: Eric

Medic! Google’s Latest Update

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Google's New Core Algo Update: MEDIC

Dubbed the "Medic Update" the initial impact was seen most severely in the health and fitness worlds, but we found some interesting changes among our client sites outside (and inside) of that industry.

Medic Shakes Up Health Sites

All the data and buzz surrounding Medic is that it specifically affected Health sites. Our health industry client landed on the "no change" list.

The E.A.T. Connection

E.A.T. stands for “Expertise. Authoritativeness. Trustworthiness.” and it’s the core basis behind how Google measures & ranks pages.

Interesting Finds for Fishing Sites

We had an affected client ask us about a specific fishing industry keyword, we dove deep and found some interesting search result data.

The latest Google update has shaken some worlds up, but as per usual – we just see that they are increasing their AI intelligence based on the bazillion factors they focus on. In the end, topical authority and trust will still be the name of the game. How Google defines this is an ever-evolving process. They actually push hundreds of micro updates per year, however, it’s the “broad core algorithm updates” that usually provide the most flux. For 2018, thus far, this is the 3rd such update.

E.A.T. and Y.M.Y.L. might be a driving factor behind Medic and is somewhat shown through the effect it had on health related sites specifically.

E.A.T.

E.A.T. stands for “Expertise. Authoritativeness. Trustworthiness.” and it’s the core basis behind how Google measures & ranks pages. There is something of an ingredient list here, but for the most part, it can be defined as a site portraying itself as an expert within the given niche subject and is upfront with things like who they are, how to contact them, and so on. In other words, an actual industry leader in the digital (and in some cases real) world.

Y.M.Y.L.

Y.M.Y.L. is Google’s acronym for “Your Money Or Your Life” websites. These are sites that can affect peoples actual well being in the areas of health and finance. I think, seeing that health sites were most adversely affected by Medic, there must be a connection here. Google wants all sites to have E.A.T., but Y.M.Y.L. sites get an extra hard look under the microscope. Medic might have just increased that scopes magnification.

What to do if you were affected by Medic?

Study what happened in your specific case. This is what we are doing. What I can tell thus far is that there is not a broad-based answer to give. This means, see what moved for you, in what directions, and note everything. Look at search results and see what moved up in your tracked campaign keywords for the competitor sites that are now there, and note everything. Really look at whats happening, even in the differences between each individual search query (we are finding our best data here).  We are still in this process and the results are somewhat more complicated, yet identifiable.

If you are doing your own SEO, were affected, and a lot of the understanding of what Google wants is over your head, start here: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo and here: https://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing. SEO hasn’t been simple since 2008-ish, there will be no fast answers to find – especially if you want to survive the next update. The rules have been, for the most part, the same for some time now. Google is just figuring out how to better define its own goals, in what is seeming like a micro level. Is the Google AI developing a personality with its own point of view? Ha, maybe – humans are still driving the inputs.

If poking at SEO shortcuts (gray and black hat) is your sole game, I just can’t resolve those answers for you. Go back to BHW.

For everyone else – focus on E.A.T. and Y.M.Y.L (if applicable) and you will recover. It’s probably, and most likely, just time to adjust your approach and become laser focused on your goals by really showcasing your niche authority. Move away from broad industry targets and put your work in the micro-verse of what you offer the industry. As we say, would you like to convert 2% of 5000 visitors or 50% of 500?

I can say that for the most part our client base was untouched or had increased exposure as a result. The few that had declines will be explained below. Of these, none were dumped or destroyed in search, but they did have an interesting shakeup.

Our Measured Month 1 Effects

We Have Seen Measurable Effects In Some Of Our Client Sites. Interesting Finds For Fishing Industry Sites.

Positive Effect

Percentage of our sites that had significant across the board growth after Medic.

No Measured Effect

Percentage of sites with no effect felt by Medic, with a few that had slight ups/downs the week of, but then settled back to normal.

Negative Effect

Percentage of our sites that had noticeable drops after Medic. See an interesting find below.

I did want to start by saying, interestingly enough, that Medic has been newsworthy for its effect on the Health and Fitness industry websites. However, our Health and Fitness industry clients have landed in the “no change” zone. I think this is because, as a broad industry, these affected health sites have all kind of followed the same formula. Whatever that is was majorly affected by Medic.

We always run our own approaches and, to pat ourselves on the back, we rarely ever have any algo related ill-effects for our clients’ websites. We usually can’t even tell one happened until some news runs across our feed.

The biggest asset here that we use is preemptive adjustments. The biggest and most notable proof of this was Panda in 2011. We were running Panda friendly SEO starting in 2006. Our clients’ sites blew up in search and our SEO business not only survived Panda (many SEO’s didn’t) but grew exponentially as a result.

Our Findings

Medic Gave Us Some Insight

Google Medic Has No Chill For Hosting Issues – Maybe

We have two examples of sites that happened to be down during or right after Medic rolled out.

Example 1: Crazy Bad Timing for WordPress Updates

We have a client that rules his search area – has for years and is constantly growing in all directions. The big day for our shake-up was noted on our August 2nd rank tracking scan. On this day, our super happy and killing it clients’ site dumped to pages 5+. Oh No!

I ran to search console and nothing was noted. I logged in to the client site and noticed immediately he had no WordPress updates available, where he did just a few days earlier. I contacted the webmaster and we chatted to realize he ran the updates on August 1st, the site dumped the next day.  On a whim, I ran back to search console and had Google re-index the homepage and all connected links, 5 minutes later the site was back on page 1. All I could figure at this point is that the Google bot came right as the site was down for maintenance – forcing the bot to come look again resolved it, sort of.

Now the issue is, this client was positioned 1, 2, and 3 for every major keyword, and he came back in positions 4, 5, and 6. I thought it just might take a few days to come back to where he was, but alas, to this moment he is stuck there.

To note, this client is also the rich snippet result for his major keyword, this never changed, he is still there.

Example 2: Hosting Went Down for 2 Days

In this case, the client site was 503 errored 1 week after Medic for 48 hours, a server-side fault. In this 48 hours, again – the site dumped way back (pages 8,9). The hosting issue was resolved and the site was brought back to page 1. But much like example 1, he is lower than before. Not dumped, but not in the top 3 from whence he came. He is now lower 3rd page 1. This is 2 weeks in so far with no change.

The reason I am blaming this on Medic is that we have had sites down for days in the past and the rankings go in a slow decline mode while its down. Since Medic, it’s just a straight dump the day of. In both cases we are working on the issues, but in a much different way than our next noted shake-up: The Orlando Conundrum.

The Orlando Conundrum

So, I dubbed this our own little internal Orlando Conundrum. I am sure this is happening on many different micro fronts, so it’s probably worth the read. For us, this is the only such case.

You see, at one time, a single site could rank for “orlando fishing charters”, “orlando fishing guides”, and “orlando fishing”. I have two clients up in that mix and we have been hitting all those fronts at the same time for years, and have even steadily battled the same competitor sites that entire time – until Medic.

Now check this out:

“Orlando fishing charters” seems to share many of the same traits as before. A mix of saltwater guys, local bass guys, and some directories. It is actually much the same after Medic – but there was a slight shakeup with some different sites in the mix. My clients are still on track here with this one keyword as before.

Then, “orlando fishing guides”- before this basically mirrored the charters search but did always have a few different sites than the other.

  • This search shows that nearly all of the results are now bass fishing guys. In this, they are all fishing in Orlando specifically – there is no mix of the saltwater guys like you find in the Orlando Fishing Charters search. Google is treating this search as entirely disconnected from the other. This is new. The only shared search result with “orlando fishing charters” is tripadvisor – and even these are different tripadvisor pages on each search.
  • You find a few domains with the word “orlando” in them, but this doesn’t seem to matter much as most don’t.
  • Most have actual Orlando addresses.

Now with “orlando fishing” I look at the results and again find nearly no shared similarities between this, “orlando fishing charters” and “orlando fishing guides” – these are now acting as 3 completely different searches – again, this is new.

Here is what I find here:

  • This has more directories and government sites than the other searches.
  • Of the only 4 fishing guide sites in this page 1 result now (this is new) – 3 have “orlando fishing” in the domain.
  • The 4th fishing guide site, without “orlando” in the name, is another local bass fishing guy with a massive library of Orlando fishing related pages and a local address.

So, what I am getting at is after this update, there has been this massive segmentation down to the fine details of each search term variation and the results they provide. Even though they all share a common theme – this change has shaken everything up. Before many of the same sites could be found in all three of these searches – now, it is all different. It appears no one site is hitting these on all cylinders anymore – since Medic.

Industries Served

Automotive
Construction
Fishing & Marine
Firearms
Health & Fitness
Medical Service Providers
Outdoor
Rentals