You may (or may not) be aware that Google rolled out a Core update in early August. This means that they made some adjustments to the main algorithm (rather than pushing a new algorithm).
Typically, these updates receive a name from either Google or the search community - in this instance we’ve seen the search community calling this by three different names: Medic, E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust), and YMYL (your money or your life).
Understanding these names gets right to the meat of the update itself. The sites most affected contained what Google calls “your money or your life” (YMYL) content - or content that, according to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines “could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users” such as pages where people are making payments, conducting financial transactions of any sort, providing information about finances, health, legal advice, government information, or other important things.
A high percentage of the affected sites were classed as ‘health’ sites, leading to some in the search marketing industry to name the update ‘Medic’.
What was the Google algorithm update about?
In order to understand why the update might have hit these types of sites harder than others, we need to understand what Google looks for when assessing the quality of the information on a page. One of the key factors is what Google calls “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).” This means, that, alongside assessing your page and your site to understand the purpose of a page, the quality and length of the main content on a page and the reputation of your site, Google tries to understand your expertise, how authoritative you are on a subject compared to other sites and how much Google can trust your overall site,
So, Google will look at your link profile, at who is talking about your brand and who is recommending the page in question, but Google will also look at the reputation of the author of your content and the other signals that indicate expertise, whether that is coverage in related niche publications, badges with links to industry associations or an author who blogs in multiple locations complete with a bio page on your site. Google will also look at the quality and relevance of your content and whether people remain on your pages after entering your site from a Google search result, or whether they bounce.
What should affected sites do?
If you’ve been hit by this update you need to focus your efforts on the following:
- Grow brand awareness to increase the number of people searching for you by brand
- Demonstrate clear thought leadership in your niche - especially if you offer YMYL products or services
- Ensure you have a detailed about us page
- Attribute authors to articles and blog posts on your site - use schema markup to identify them
- Ensure any authors on your site have bio pages
- Demonstrate these authors are experts through thought leadership offsite
- Review the quality of your site content and improve anywhere you can
This update isn’t about one single thing where you can make a quick change to your site and see any lost listings return. This update is about Google trying to ensure that the results it surfaces are factually accurate and that it’s sending its users to expert sites that people trust. By continually working to improve your website and to promote your brand online and solve the pain points of your target market, you will recover your lost visibility over time.