On August 1st 2018, Google hit several websites with its latest algorithm update called the Medic Update. This resulted in loss of traffic for many websites that featured health or medical related content. The search engine giant did so with the aim to allow only authority sites to publish genuine health related content. Needless to say that many websites were hit by it and are trying to come back from this onslaught. Some sites even had to change their entire business model due to this update. Here are some suggestions to deal with the update and regain lost traffic.
1. Be genuine
Google came up with this update because many websites known as the YMYL or Your Money Or Your Life websites try to lure innocent users into buying products. These YMYL websites usually play around topics like finances/investments and health, medical advice etc. Google has done the update with the noble intention to ensure that these websites are genuine and do not ask users to buy products they might not need or play around with their money. The only way to recover from this update if yours is a YMYL site is to use the EAT methodology, which means: reestablish your Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
2. Keep up to date with Google algorithm tactics
Google comes up with updates when we are least expecting them. Be it the Caffeine Update, Panda Update, the Penguin update, the Hummingbird update and the latest Medic update-you need to keep yourself up to date with these changes so you can take steps to quickly recover from them. Moz Algorithm change is a good place to get updates. You could also follow Matt Cutts on his Twitter account or read his super blog here.
3. Avoid spammy SEO tactics
According to Google Search Liaison’s Twitter post, the Medic update is benefitting genuine pages that were under-rewarded earlier thanks to other sites that used spammy tactics to rank higher. So they feel that while there is no ‘fix’ to get over the Medic update, sites can continue focusing on building great content. Over time, this may bring your site on top relative to other authority pages. Note that Google Search Liaison is the official Twitter account for Google’s public liaison of search and explains exactly how Google searches work. This is another great account to follow if you are on Twitter.
4. Separate your blog and website
Many websites have blogs having health and medical content. They can try to recover from the Medic update by using no-follow links from the website to the blog and vice a versa. The key is to completely de-link the website and blog as if they are two different entities. So if you are using footer on your blog, you simply delink and separate it from the main entity. Please try and be as aggressive as you can in finding all the follow links and clean up the no-index process.
5. Keep complete focus on user experience
Suppose your website is about helping readers learn about a specific medical condition and then, at the end, suggests a therapist or doctor or product to buy for that condition. What you need to do in order to recover from the Medic update is to remove the advertisements and links to doctor sites and separate the two. This means that each page should now only focus on user intent if you want to appear in the search results. Matt Cutts explains that not only does your content need to be original; it should also bring something new and verified to the table.
6. Get experts on panel
Many health and medical sites have now brought experts on their editorial panel to review each article or blog. This can, to some extent, help enrich the medical content. Many sites have even set strict editorial guidelines and even rewritten their entire editorial policy. They are reviewing each and every article or blog written. More and more blogs are now telling readers how they have verified the content and claims made in their medical articles. One way is to bring in physicians on board and state that they have reviewed your content. This can, of course, end up being expensive.
7. Enhance author bio
Google indexing makes sure that each article comes with an author bio. This adds to the genuineness of the blog. Users also tend to trust sites having detailed author bio and owner profile. If you have multiple authors for articles, make sure each article carries a bio at the end. You can also link author bio to their own websites or blogs if they have one.
8. Update existing content
Google is still particular about the user experience you provide. It will eliminate sites having old outdated and less content. Websites that do not use images, infographics and videos are less likely to rank higher.
9. Remove advertisements
The Panda update hit websites having large amounts of advertisements. News and social media sites remained unaffected with the Panda update and some actually did better with it. Again, the focus should be on user experience: Google has actually employed humans to rate the user experience of many sites. This ensures that low quality sites with inferior content that do a good job at SEO are discouraged.
10. Answer queries
Hummingbird updates helped Google improve human experience further by asking site owners to answer users’ questions about your niche. When you write content, do a thorough search about FAQs on the topic and try to answer those queries. Keep blog posts lengthy-up to 1000 words or more to ensure it covers all aspects of the topic.
11. Pay attention to link diversity
Avoid excessive use of keywords in anchor text for incoming links. When using keywords as links, make them as natural as possible. You can even use the classic ‘click here’ option. Seek to obtain good diversity in the types of websites that link to yours. Links to authority sites in related niches are also good for SEO.
12. Check your online reputation
If yours is an ecommerce or review website, then search for reviews about it on sites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau etc. In case there are negative reviews about you over there, you may want to come up with strategies to rectify them. If possible, answer those reviews.
There is no single tried and tested ‘magic formula’ which can show results as far as the Medic update is concerned. If your website has been hit with the Medic update, then you need to do some major rethinking about your site’s aim and design. Try out different things – what works for one site might not necessarily work for you. Most importantly, be patient. It takes time to see results and whatever changes you have implemented will take a few months to come to fruition. Good luck!