As always, some lost a lot, others won and sometimes the impact was weak.
I hope it was for you? If this is not the case, this article should help you … In any case it’s my goal!
- a reminder of what is called “Medic Update”
- Feedback from sites that have gained visibility / traffic
- my SEO tips to succeed with Google’s new algo
So I made a selection of examples of sites that took full advantage of this update. I took a variety of examples. And then I tried to list what to do in my humble opinion to stay on page 1 of Google with his new algo.I had many exchanges on social networks (follow me!), On the WebRankInfo forum and also with the clients of my SEO platform “My Ranking Metrics” .
Have a good read, and tell me in comments how it went for you!
What is the Google Medic Update?
On August 1, 2018, Google implemented a major change in its algorithm used for ranking results. Clearly, regards the SEO.
Here is the announcement made on Twitter ( source ):
This week we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains the same as in March, as we covered here.
Which means :
This week, we released an update of the basic algorithm, as we do several times a year. Our advice on these updates remains the same as in March, as we said here.
They refer to the March 2018 update and this tweet .
Several platforms and SEO have done analyzes to identify patterns and identify what could have been changed in the algo. Some have found that the maximum impact is on YMYL type sites (I’ll talk about this later). Among its sites, those dealing with health seem to have been specifically targeted. Hence the name “Medic Update” proposed by Barry Schwartz following his survey conducted on 300 sites.
For example, Search Metrics indicates that the topics most concerned are health and finance. Sistrix confirms that the most important changes concern medicine. Mozcast has measured that the theme of health is the one that has experienced the most changes (but many others too).
Does this update only apply to YMYL sites?
The answer is no !
It was Gary Illyes (from Google) who said it during the event Search Masters Brazil. He indicated that it was not designed to target YMYL site types. The information was reported by Pedro Dias, a former employee of Google. He added that according to Gary, “It was just a happy coincidence that it also had an impact on the sites of this vertical”.
So basically, the SEO community will probably continue to call it “Google Medic Update”, although in reality this update is a priori everyone …
4 winners of the Google Update of August 1, 2018
I chose examples of very different sites and corresponding to the majority of you, to show you that there is still hope!
Note: To standardize the data published here, I used the same tool (SEMrush), which allows to have data even for competitors’ sites. But I assure you that I checked that the traffic on these sites went up at once on August 1st, just as their positioning improved. In some cases, I completed with other graphics.
1600 pages ecommerce website (clothing)
I first start with the results: its organic traffic has almost doubled (yet in a slack period of the year)
Here is the Google Analytics curve (Google / organic traffic only):
I quote what he told me he did mainly (a few months before):
Hello Olivier, following your request here is what I did:
- many technical fixes
- addition of texts on the category pages (about 500 to 800 words) and on some product sheets
- upgrade of the design and UX
- deletion of some pages never effective even on 1 year (method WebRankInfo of the active pages)
His notes with the RM Tech audit show that a big job has already been done:
What he can still do to progress in my opinion:
- work on each strategic product sheet
- finalize the cleaning of inactive pages
- speed up your site
400 pages website in finance (YMYL)
Here, we are right in the YMYL site (“Your Money Your Life”, I talk about it later in this article, with tips), so with special requirements of Google’s algo.
This is what he told me he did:
I progressed significantly during the last update of the algo.
As was the case for the previous ones, I note that the low quality pages detected by your RM Tech tool and deeply reworked almost all end up winning positions, sometimes dramatically. On the other hand, I noticed that a slight “facelift” is perfectly useless and that one should not simply seek to lengthen the page. That’s why, I rework a page only if I think to turn it into a complete file.
I also worked primarily on the pages that were supposed to be the most profitable according to RM Tech and whose QualityRisk rating was the highest . It was most often articles written quickly at the beginning, without real added value for the surfer. Pages very short also where it was wiser to write a complete file. With few exceptions, they have all progressed, sometimes dramatically.
Share the info on Twitter by clicking here!CLICK TO TWEETHis notes with the RM Tech audit show that a big job has already been done:
Also in RM Tech, I looked at what that gives in terms of SEO performance, that is to say the proportion of pages that manage to generate visits over 1 year. In his case it’s pretty good:
Glad to see that the help provided by my tool and the work done have allowed such a nice progression!
B2B e- commerce site of 200 pages
I start with a zoom on early August 2018, we see a clear increase in traffic from SEO:
This site had taken a big blow towards the month of March 2018. Following this, here what he told me to have done:
- adding textual content on the pages of my product listing: mostly a description of about 500 words and for some a complete guide has been added (1200 to 1800 words)
- removal of a large number of pages (400 out of 600) identified with RM Tech (inactive pages over 1 year) and corresponding to products not searched on Google
And that’s what it gives in hindsight over 2 years:
His notes with the RM Tech audit show that a big job has already been done:
500 pages website in health (YMYL)
Another YMYL site, with medical advice and services.
My Ranking Metrics client since 2016, we know him well. He is super serious about his SEO, for years. It only publishes hyper-complete content, with the author well indicated (recognized expert). As soon as an error is identified on the site by RM Tech, it deals with the correction quickly. He has an excellent reputation both in his job and what we see on the web. It has many backlinks from sites that are authoritative.
I contacted him after the August update to find out more. His answer :
I do a regular monitoring of my SEO, not only with RM Tech, but also in the results of Google and in the Search Console. I try to put myself in the skin of Internet users that I target and I examine the SERPs . I am trying to evaluate if my page responds correctly to the supposed request of the user. I use Search Console looking at which queries my strategic pages come out of, and I check that my content matches the intent of the search.
His notes with his latest RM Tech audit summarize the situation:
As a result, every time Google updates, traffic increases 🔝
With the update of August 1st, he won a little:
No doubt it does not impress, but his biggest competitors have not had the same luck …
This is his first most important competitor in terms of business:
It remained about stable for its 2nd competitor. Here is the 3rd most important competitor in business terms:
Here is the site of the sector that does the most traffic, not totally competitive in terms of business, but which has been well established for more than 5 years:
Here is a screenshot transmitted by the client, representing this time the visibility (on nearly 400 strategic requests). We can see that the traffic changes are related to Google’s update and that it is not cyclical:
I’m coming back to the RM Tech client …
Maybe he may seem obsessed with his RM Tech audits, but here is his 5 year curve:
Long-term work therefore works really well for him, even though he is 100% on the typology YMYL.
Tips with Google’s new algo
Well … If you’re reading this, it’s likely that your site was among the many to fall with this update.
I still have trouble understanding all the logic of Google (I have still unexplained counterexamples). That said, I think I have roughly figured out what to do to succeed in SEO, or back down the slope. The future will clarify things …
1 Audit your site
I know, you’ve probably done (or have done) full, but if your SEO is not good, it’s still things to fix.
This audit should cover the following elements:
- full site crawl
- locating all broken or redirected internal links
- internal mesh study : add relevant links to pages that are too deep or strategic pages that lack links. Think also to make a natural mesh, with a lot of variety in the clickable texts . Improving the internal mesh is very often neglected and yet very effective, especially on sites of at least several hundred pages.
- scan the main content of the pages to see which ones are missing text
- adequacy between title / description and main content of the page: do not deceive or disappoint the user!
- page performance study : understand why some pages generate as little (or no) traffic. Do not do this for only 30 days but over 1 year, it’s much more effective ( my complete method is here ). Make a big cleaning of the pages without interest .
👉 If you have not tested it yet, try RM Tech , my SEO audit tool adapted to all that (and more …).
📌 Put in place all recommendations related to the audit.
2 Review Google’s Guidelines for Quality Raters
Not simple, they are only available in English ( here ), I know. But I really consider that they give full clues as to what Google’s algo seeks to identify on our sites.
By the way: just before the update, the instructions have changed a lot. I think this is not trivial then read the discussion of the forum WebRankInfo: the changes of July 2018 in the instructions to Quality Raters .
If you ever deal with health, safety, finance or ecommerce valuable products, pay special attention: Google is really very demanding now in these cases. I’ve published a folder to help you understand the SEO impact of YMYL sites (that’s what Google calls them: Your Money Your Life).
📌 Make any necessary changes as a result of reading the Search Quality Raters Guidelines (SQRG).
3 Then analyze page by page
If you are at this stage, you have worked on the entire site and validated that all the fundamentals (or more) are already in place. Otherwise, do not expect to win with the next updates from Google.
Now it’s time to look at the pages that have suffered the most with this update. I’m not talking about a decline in position on a specific query, but a drop in revenue generated by the page via natural search.
To you to have set up the necessary tracking to measure all that (ecommerce, objectives, etc.).
💡 Do you want to start with an easy analysis? One easy way to find the biggest falls is to use Google Search Console (“Status> Performance” in the new console ).
For example, compare 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after August 1st by showing clicks or impressions for pages (not queries):
Sort by the column “difference”, ascending order, you will have first the pages that have lost the most:
Sometimes you can look at your page (which has dropped), you do not see what is wrong. It may be indeed indeed, but only according to your point of view.
How to know what displeases users with your page? 😟 Or what “displeases” Google’s algo?
Answer: Look closely at what your competitors are doing, that is, those who are (now) on page 1 in front of you.
Apparently, according to Google’s algo, these pages correspond better to what the user is looking for. Your competitors may have better understood than you what is the intention of the user (for this page anyway). For some elements at least, they can better satisfy the user .
I have several times unmasked the strengths of competitors by auditing their sites. What’s stopping you from doing it? Start a RM Tech audit, starting with a free RM Tech audit for example.
📌 It is at this stage that human expertise is crucial. Tools are essential for locating details in a mass of data, as well as for saving time, but the human remains the key. It’s up to you to take a step back on your site and find the assets of those who are in front of you. Sometimes it is no longer a question of classic SEO criteria: it is rather the EAT criteria that must be worked on.
And you ?
Comments are available for your questions, comments or feedback!