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Google Medic algorithm update and how to deal with it

Google changes its search algorithm hundreds of times a year to provide more accurate search results for its users. Here Paul Edge, Digital Strategist, introduces you to one of the latest.

You may remember previous bigger Google updates such as the ‘Panda’ update (named after a Google engineer) and also the ‘Penguin’ update.

On 1st August 2018 there was an update called ‘Medic’ because Barry Schwartz one of the most prolific writers in the SEO industry called it that and because it largely impacted websites in the medical, health, fitness, healthy lifestyle space, but many websites in other industries were affected. (Personally, I prefer it when they name them after animals.)

Google has publicly said that, as with every Google update, some websites will note gains and drops in website traffic.  When this happens there is nothing wrong with your webpages. Instead the changes now benefit websites that were previously under-rewarded.

Google Medic

How to check if your site has been impacted by the Medic update

The chart below shows an example of organic search traffic from a website that has been affected by the Medic update. The example has been taken from the Twitter feed of Barry Adams. Barry is a fountain of knowledge on SEO and someone I urge you to follow if you’re interested in knowing more. 

Barry Adams twitter

You can see the steady decline of ‘organic traffic’ in the blue line from August 2018 when the Medic update kicked in, when comparing against the orange line which is 2017.

What should you do?

Firstly, get your website managers to segment your website traffic across 2018 and look at your levels of organic search traffic from August 2018 to assess if your site has a decline in organic traffic.  

In terms of what to do, there is uncertainly across the SEO industry from experts on how to improve organic search performance following the Medic update. As mentioned above, Google are publicly saying that websites haven’t got worse overnight, it’s just that other websites have benefited from this update.

At the time of the Medic update, Google added the concept of ‘beneficial purpose’ to the Quality Rater Guidelines. Google’s quality raters are now not just asked to rate the quality of the content, but they now also consider whether the page has a beneficial purpose or use to be on the site. What would a visitor to the site gain from the page?

Your website may have a lot of good quality content that gives visitors a reason to return to the site, so my personal advice would be to audit your website content and focus on quality over quantity.

Focus on organising your content in the best possible way, making sure your best content is visible and easy to find, giving a clearer continuation between each content piece to encourage more repeat visits.

If you are looking for help auditing your website in light of this algorithm update, then just drop me an email at pedge@thisispegasus.co.uk


is a Digital Account Director with over six years experience making engaging digital content convert.