On August 1st, 2018 SE Roundtable noticed “Signs Of Another Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update”. On the same day, Google tweeted a regular algorithm update SEO experts all over the world already had noticed. Later it was called “the Medic Update”.
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: https://t.co/uPlEdSLHoX
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) 1. August 2018
The Medic Update: Hot Weather On August 1st and 2nd
This update began on July 22nd, 2018 and lasted until August 7th with extreme peaks on August 1st and 2nd, followed by a day of massive rankings change.
SEOs talked about extremely “hot” weather on the first days in August. This proverbial “heat” that SEOs noted on the most extreme days, is signaling fluctuations in the search engine results. The idea goes back to a scale developed by the well-known guys from Moz some years ago. MozCast was consequently defined as the “The Google Algorithm Weather Report.”
What does it mean? In the words of Moz “put simply, the hotter the temperature, the more change we saw in Google rankings in the previous 24 hours. … The temperature and severity are completely connected at this point, so a big algorithm change means you’ll see hot and stormy weather.”
MozCast reported a record heat spike of 114 degrees on August 1st and 2nd.
Who Was Hit By The August 2018 Google Core Update?
SE Roundtable pointed out that some industries had been hit more than others. They delivered data from an analysis of some hundreds of sites complaining heavy traffic loss, „sites that said they were impacted by this update. The first bit of data that sorely stood out around this was that a huge percentage of the sites impacted were specifically in the medical, health, fitness, healthy lifestyle space. In fact, over 42% of the sites submitted were. ”
But that was only half the truth. After the dust had settled, SEJournal added in December that “since the initial rollout, we can see that the update has impacted sites far wider than the medical niche, including payday loans.”
Moz lists of winners and losers for the Medic Update supported this point of view as a high percentage of the Top 30 losers were from the health industry. Obviously, Google had changed the algorithm in a way that rankings appeared to be in favor of sites with high domain authority and trust value. Evergreenmedia saw problems especially for sites from health and finance.
YoastSEO added, that “our best guess as to what the Medic update did was improve” a match between users’ intent when searching for a phrase and search engine “results. All of the changes above would make sense with that point of view.”
Is Fixing Rankings After The Medic Update Possible?
A remedy that webmasters could use for fixes to improve their rankings after being hit by the algorithm update, was explicitly excluded by Google. The way they updated the algorithm – Google confirmed the update as a “broad core algorithm update” – (see above) seemed to have made any corrections or cleanings obsolete.
Lincoln recommended to webmasters “to look at Google’s gold standard: its Quality Rater Guidelines” and to focus on “the importance of expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E.A.T).”
In December 2018 Steven McDonald from Search Engine Journal stated that “until now, very little has been written in terms of practical advice on how to regain traffic and rankings.” However, they offered a case study webmasters could use and eventually apply. At least for the case study, SEJ stated that “we recovered within 60 days”.
The study about Peachy.co.uk started with a significant loss of organic google visitors ensuing the algorithm update.
They used a 3-step plan to recover. First, they analyzed the website, then identified key pages they wanted to improve and finally created an action plan for the recovery process
Five Measures For Better Rankings
Then they implemented the following improvements:
- Rewrite Key Landing Pages to Emphasize Trust (…)
- Optimize Metadata to Be Less Aggressive (…)
- Double Down on High-Quality Content (…)
- Merge Duplicate Content & Improve Copy (…)
- Link Out to Research, Statistics & Data (…)
Results Of The Recovery Case Study
First Peachy.co.uk had lost 18 percent of organic search traffic due to the Google update. From 47,000 organic search visits in July before the “Medic Update” the domain´s traffic dropped in August to 38,000 visits.
According to SEJ during the process of implementing the improvements, the number of visitors climbed again to 43,000 visitors in October. Finally, at the end of the observed period, SEJ counted 45,000 visitors for November 2018.
Medic Update: My Personal Takeaways
Google turned a set screw in the Medic update and that was obviously called E-A-T. E stand for expertise, A for authority and T means trustworthiness. Websites with brilliant E-A-T-values obviously profited over average.
According to some observers, in this context noticeably many pages were from the YMYL area.
This may be because in these industries the competition for the best rankings traditionally has been fought aggressively, using dubious SEO tricks and sometimes content of low value. Google’s weighting of individual E-A-T parameters may have caused greater shifts here than for instance for educational or governmental sites.