The major update made by Google is called Medical Update. This algorithm change was the most important of the last year. It completely upset the SERP results of the healthcare sector. As always, some sites have been enhanced while others have disappeared into the depths of the This this article proposes to take stock of the changes caused by Medical Update with several months of hindsight and to give you the keys to react in the best way in the event of a Google penalty.
ON THIS PAGE
- What is the “Google Medical Update”?
- The context of the implementation of Medical Update
- The rollout of the Medic Update
- The SEO of YMYL sites and pages
- The impact of Google Medical Update and the main sectors affected
- The sites concerned
- How to avoid penalties like “Medical Update”?
- Optimizations & SEO for YMYL pages
- Authority criteria for YMYL pages
- Checklist of essentials for YMYL sites and content
What is the “Google Medical Update”?
Since its inception, the most widely used search engine in the world has made an incredible number of updates to its algorithm. This is changing almost every day. If algorithm updates often go unnoticed, this is not the case with the Medical Update, which shook all the sites linked to the health theme.
The context of the implementation of Medical Update
Each year, the cards are reshuffled with updated algorithms. Certain positioning criteria are gaining or losing importance, and new rules appear. With Medical Update, implemented on August 1, 2018, the SERP of the health sector saw its volatility strongly impacted. This change has particularly affected sites dealing with themes such as health, lifestyle, medicine, fitness, and physical activity or healthy lifestyles. This is also the biggest change, with the major update of the algorithm’s core that occurred in March.
Medical Update stands out from previous updates because of its specificity. If, usually, the changes of algorithms concern all the sites, regardless of their sector, this one concerns only a niche. The contents of these health sites belong to the Your Money Your Life category, to which Google is very attentive.
The rollout of the Medical Update
Similar to previous updates, Google formalized the rollout of Medical Update just hours after significant and abnormal fluctuations in the SERP were noted. The advice given by the Mountain View firm is, once again, the same: concentrating on producing ultra-quality content that meets the needs of Internet users is the best way to sustain its position. This implies that the other solutions and optimizations, even if they may work, would have less impact than the content.
The SEO of YMYL sites and pages
Google applies substantially similar ranking criteria to all referenced sites. But if one domain is particularly exceptional, it’s the one called YMYL for Your Money Your Life. This is because the content attached to it relates more broadly to the health and finances of users. In short, all content that could influence the happiness, security, financial stability, or even the physical and moral integrity of users is scrutinized.
This type of content can be found in different forms:
- Transactional pages on e-commerce or banking sites,
- Informational pages on sensitive areas such as:
- medical, with subjects such as drugs, illnesses, and nutrition;
- the financier who deals, for example, with loans, investments, taxes, insurance or investments, or donations for an NGO;
- the legal with advice on adoption, divorce, and legacies;
- subjects relating to the State, politics, economic news, the international environment, etc.
Uncompromising with sites and pages of this type, the search engine requires that certain specific instructions be followed to the letter. The main rules to be observed are the accuracy, impartiality, and recentness of the information processed. The reason? A growing number of Internet users trust Google to provide the best, fairest, and most qualitative data based on their queries.
We understand better why the last update only concerned the health and medical sector: the issues related to it are far too important.
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The impact of Google Medical Update and the main sectors affected
The sites concerned
It took quite a short time for SEOs to notice the changes, to say the least obvious, caused by this new algorithm.
The fluctuations went well, resulting in a good or a drop in organic traffic. These changes mainly affected the SERPs in the fields of health and medicine, but not only… Sites that were close to these themes were also impacted.
Another graph proposed by SEO Roundtable shows us the most impacted SERPs. Their common point is that? They all belong to the YMYL category.
Taking these data into account, we can say that the update entitled “Medical Update” does not only concern sites offering medical content, as one might think at first glance. Of course, this is the most affected category, but so are other “YMYL” sites and pages that could harm readers financially, physically, or emotionally!
Thanks to the great study of the medical website design, we can present two traffic curves to you which show the variations due to Medical Update.
The positive impact of Medical Update on the traffic of a health site:
The negative impact of the Medical Update on a health site:
How to avoid penalties like “Medical Update”?
If Google does not compromise on full compliance with the rules specific to YMYL content, the same is true for sanctions. As often, there are, on the one hand, the sites which fight for the first place, those which do their best without adopting an aggressive SEO strategy, and those which completely break the rules, going so far as to endanger the ‘user. Unfortunately, the latter is in Google’s line of sight and is heavily sanctioned!
Optimizations & SEO for YMYL pages
Not long ago, we told you about Google’s main ranking factors, but what about YMYL pages?
Beyond the algorithm, a few thousand people evaluate the adequacy of the content with the searches on Google. These are the famous Quality Raters. How do they proceed? Google entrusts them with a selection of queries to perform, and their mission is to report on the quality of the results provided.
You are probably wondering if there is a particular technique to optimize YMYL pages. Since an acronym never comes alone in the world of SEO, here is the rule of EAT:
- Expertise: How trustworthy is the author of the content?
- Authority: Does the site offering the content have a good reputation in its field? What is their level of expertise on the subject matter?
- Trustworthiness: Does the content present accurate, recent, unbiased information?
In terms of your legitimacy, you must establish yourself as an expert in your field if you want to see your thematic YMYL content reach the top positions. To achieve this goal, creating ultra-quality content is the surest way! Do not hesitate to demonstrate your knowledge by all means: highlighting certifications, diplomas, and various awards.
Plenty of sites offer great content but lack the authority to get to the first page! To build this authority, highlight your various interventions and conferences and the mentions made of your work. Again, recognizing other specialists in the field is essential to extending your influence.
Finally, for your content to be recognized as a reliable source of information, no compromise is possible on quality, completeness, content, or form! Aim for excellence or nothing.
This rigor implies that your content must be impeccable. Do not hesitate to encourage criticism of yourself. Also, remember to highlight the tangible results of your work: what is the positive influence of your content on others?
A YMYL page or site that does not respond favorably to these three rules has no chance of positioning itself well on the SERP!
The more curious among you can consult the evaluation guide followed by the Quality Raters.
And you, where are you in applying the 3 EAT rules?
Authority criteria for YMYL pages
Beyond the three principles set out by the main EAT rules to be respected at all costs, other criteria come into play.
Information update frequency
Nothing is worse than taking something that is no longer relevant as truth. It is, therefore, essential to keep abreast of developments and update your content accordingly.
The quality of the site in the broad sense
This implies that your site must be accessible and not have 404 error pages or dozens of bugs…
Respect for the thematic subject of the page
The idea is to treat a subject in depth and not skim over several. The content should perfectly match the title, with no room for false promises.
Completeness of content
Excellent proof of expertise on a subject. Details, examples, and concrete cases provide more material to enrich your content. Remember: a white paper format is much more valued than a 500-word article, so don’t hesitate to transmit all your knowledge!
Net linking with other expert sites
Citing relevant sources recognized by Google is extremely beneficial for improving your positioning. This proves that you are relying on tangible and proven facts already evaluated by the algorithm.
The presence of a biography of the author
Revealing your identity is a sine qua non for building your e-reputation. So don’t hesitate to introduce yourself, say who you are, what you do, and what you like… don’t, and don’t lose sight of the fact that the professional aspect takes precedence over the rest. This biography is an excellent opportunity to further establish your expertise!
Allow your readers to contact you by indicating your email address and/or telephone number.
Checklist of essentials for YMYL sites and content
If the Medical Update has shaken a good part of the YMYL sites, here is the checklist of points to check on your site to avoid suffering the same fate:
- A site accessible on all media;
- Contact information and transparency on the identity of the editor and the sources used;
- Appropriate, exhaustive content, with real added value, updated, which has no risk of disappointing the reader.
So, does your site meet all these criteria?
Do you suffer a penalty following Medical Update? If even while carrying out an analysis of your content on your site, you have difficulties or blocking points, two solutions are available to you:
- Compare your site with that of competitors for whom the algorithm update was beneficial and repeat the analysis on each page that fell;
- Entrust this diagnosis and the implementation of corrective measures to professionals.
Google has announced it very clearly: sites that have suffered penalties must focus at all costs on the quality of their content.
However, keep in mind that it is normal for new sites to gain some visibility while others lose it: it’s the game. Google tries to ensure that all reliable sites and experts have their chance!
Once again, this update wants to support the fact that Google favors the quality of content and user experience during its searches.
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