In an effort to deliver relevant search results to users, Google continually updates its core algorithm. There is no fixed schedule for these updates, and often there is little notice. Each change, however, contains important implications for digital marketers, particularly those who use search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to improve website search visibility.
On August 1, 2018, Google rolled out another algorithm update, this one dubbed the “Medic Update”. While it is unclear how it will ultimately impact the SEO landscape, here is a look at what is known about the algorithm change and what digital marketers can do to make the necessary adjustments in their strategies.
Google described its August 1 change as a “broad core algorithm update” and as one that occurs periodically each year. This update reflects all search results, regardless of country or language. Unlike several previous updates, Google did not specify which pages would be affected, only that sites would experience rises and falls in search results. The updates appear to more accurately weigh a given website’s three relevance metrics: expertise, authority, and trust, or “E-A-T” in digital marketing industry parlance.
Because this was a global core algorithm update, and because it is relatively new, it remains unclear which specific sites and web properties were affected. Potentially, all site categories will see changes in their rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, several classes of the website showed early effects; particularly sites in the medical and healthcare industries, certain e-commerce outlets, and so-called “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) sites, which focus on financial, medical, and lifestyle advice. Entertainment news sites and online gaming information portals have also been affected during the early stages of the algorithm update.
In a survey compiled by Search Engine Land, using datasets from numerous web analytics firms, some websites saw dramatic gains or losses in ranking. Across the board, position metrics looking at rankings in the top ten of SERPs showed tremendous rank instability, especially when compared to baseline percentages collected before the Medic Update was released. In a few cases, instability numbers reached 95% or higher, indicating that the algorithm update was both massive and unprecedented. Search engine analysts and SEO professionals alike were left scrambling to understand the impacts of this change, and began to formulate tactics to protect their clients’ search rankings.
Google itself provided advice to SEO professionals when rolling out the Medic Update, just as it has after previous updates. The simple response from Google is that there is no one “fix” for page ranking in the new algorithm; in other words, there is not a lot one can do to influence page rankings with respect to the new update.
All is not lost, however – there remains one glimmering detail that lights the way for SEO teams. That detail is content. As with other algorithm changes in recent years, SEO professionals need to continue to focus on delivering relevant, informative, and accurate web content to their site visitors. It has been said a million times, but “content is king”, regardless of what else happens in the search algorithm. Google continues to reward sites that demonstrate a blend of subject expertise, authoritative content, and user trust. External linking to quality resources remains one of the best tactics SEO teams can use to help reinforce trust; writing great content that ticks the E-A-T boxes is another.
For now, it remains unclear what the long-term effects of the Medic Update will have on website rankings, but as with any online practice, nothing stays the same for long. SEO professionals must remain flexible and must study website performance metrics carefully in order to ensure that their client sites stay at the top of SERPs.
Agency Tsunami is the digital marketing division of Neilson Marketing Services, who has provided the insurance distribution sector with innovative marketing and communication solutions for over twenty-five years. With our Agency Tsunami program, we have implemented an integrated marketing strategy that includes optimized, professional websites supported by high-quality SEO and Social Media for hundreds of insurance retailers and wholesalers. Our goal is to help your insurance business perform and generate new opportunities. Give us a call at (800) 736-9741 to learn more about how we can do that for you.