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Google Medic Update - Were you hit?
On the 1st of August 2018, Google went live with a core algorithm update.
This update was one of the largest core algorithm changes I've seen in years. I haven't witnessed so much volatility in my client's ranks in at least 5 years.
But first of all. What is a core algorithm update?
Well think about it this way: Google has between 200 and 500 ranking signals for which websites and pages are evaluated and ranked accordingly in Search Results. When a core algorithm update is implemented this ranking signals may change in importance. So if for example headings and keyword played density played a huge SEO role at some point, after a core algorithm update these signals may change in importance and may influence a lot less the overall on-page SEO score, thus, making you lose ranks to your competitors that had other strong signals set.
What happened after the Medic update?
The Medic update hit by large the medical niche, thus called medic update by Barry Schwartz (an important figure in the SEO community). Besides the medical niche, it also hit general lifestyle, fitness, and other health websites as well as a few other niches even though Google the update was global and had a general character.
In the first few days, the medical niche community was devasted, especially websites that used to have relied on huge amounts of health-based articles. One of my clients for which I build and optimized content for at least 3 years lost about 70% of its traffic.
My main client lost about 20% of its organic traffic though that would be a little hard to estimated because we already had a significant increase in organic traffic for the last 30 days.
Google response? These are nothing you can do, the affected websites weren't penalized and there wasn't anything specific you can do to improve your ranking and gain them back. The solution was very generic: just make your website better. As you can imagine, people weren't too pleased.
What should we do if we were hit by the Medic Update?
If the update affects you win a positive way, congrats you are winning at SEO.
On the other hand, if you notice a drop in rankings, your first instinct will be to find solutions, at least this is what most SEO tend to do. Will start implementing loads of changes right away in the hope that they will recover lost ranks. I believe the right approach is to wait.
After such a big update Google generally implements a fix or a correction about 7-10 days after the update. This time it took 22 days for the correction to come, but I glad I stuck by my optimizations and did nothing all this time. On the 22 of August, my main client's website recovered the lost traffic and even gain new ranks in the last couple of days.
After this date, the other medical based website I still manage started to also slightly recover, but most of them are still on the downside. A solution would be to link a recognized name to the author of the articles. I'm not saying you should go attribute article to famous random doctors, but you do need to realize this new update impacts the way Google perceives content on an authority level. This means the content has to have verified and notable web authors that activate in the medical niche.
Most of my clients are clinics; these clinics have loads of doctors, some of them pretty famous and renowned on the web, some even have Wikipedia pages written about them. So these are the kind of people I need to convince to write professional articles or update previous articles and attached their name and expertise to them. I already started this process, and the results are satisfying.
Other tips for people that got hit by the medic update:
Test and test again. You need to figure out what made Google drop you in ranks. Not every website is the same so don't expect certain fixes to work for you just because it worked for others.
I had success in increasing the number of exact matched keywords. Remember the times when Google used to intoxicate us with the advice that keyword stuffing is bad and you should avoid creating content with lots of exact matched keywords? Well, me and other SEOs done some tests and it turns out increasing the number of exact matched keywords in websites that got hit by the Medical Update actually improves rankings!
Have you experienced a loss in ranks and organic traffic after the 1st of August Google Medical Update?
Have you recovered if you manage to improve your ranks, please share them in the comments below!