What The August 1st Google Algorithm Update Taught Us

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What is a Google algorithm update?

Algorithm changes can be frustrating because they seem to help some kinds of businesses while hurting others. Google changes its algorithm hundreds of times a year (they say that they even will release multiple small updates in one day), but only a few of those changes each year are major. These major changes “broad core algorithm updates.” The August 1st update is being called the “Medic Update” because it has affected a lot of health pages and is definitely one of those major changes that you’ll want to take notice of.

The keyword in the “broad core algorithm updates” is the word “broad.” This broad update was implemented to reduce the amount of unreliable information on the web (we suspect that Google has been motivated to do this in order to avoid Googlers encountering “fake news”). The broad bit of advice that Google has offered the web content creation community is to  continue to “build great content.” If you have some time on your hands and you love to read, Google has published a hefty and comprehensive guide on search quality evaluation here.

Even if you’ve never paid attention to Google algorithm updates before, we’ll break it all down for you here. Big Leap is all about making SEO and digital marketing easier for small businesses just like yours.

Why does Google update its algorithms?

Google rolls out algorithm updates to make search processes better and more efficient for users. Google has said that they update algorithms every day to prevent unreliable information from reaching Googlers.

Who did the August 1st algorithm update affect?

Google says that its updates impact all sites across many industries, but so far it seems like YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites have seen the most change. According to SEMrush, pages that fall into the YMYL category, “are comprised of pages that are important enough that, were they low-quality, they could have a potential negative impact on a person’s life, income, or happiness.” Path Interactive says that YMYL pages can include:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages (Websites that allow you to transfer money or make purchases.)
  • Financial information pages (Sites that provide guidance on spending, taxes, retirement planning, etc.)
  • Medical information pages (Providers of content about diseases, drugs, mental health, nutrition, etc.)
  • Legal information pages containing legal advice or information related to the law.
  • News articles “important for having an informed citizenry” (Articles that contain information about local officials or government processes.)

If your business page falls into one of these categories, right now would be a good time to re-evaluate the quality of the content on your pages. Google does not want you to be publishing content that would pass on inaccurate or unqualified information to Googlers. Evaluating and boosting the quality of the content on your business site is something that Big Leap is happy to work on for you.

How will the Medic Update hurt my business’s site? Sites that have low E-A-T are the ones that are hit the hardest. The term E-A-T refers to the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Going back to Google’s advice to continue to build create content, Google’s Search Quality guidelines provide some pointers of what they consider to be low quality and high-quality pages.

Low-quality web pages include the following:

  • Lacking Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
  • Low-Quality Main Content
  • Unsatisfying Amount of Main Content
  • Distracting Ads/SC
  • Mixed or Mildly Negative Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content
  • Unsatisfying Amount of Information about the Website or Creator of the Main Content

Fortunately, we can help boost your E-A-T. Feel free to reach out to us so we can talk about performing an E-A-T audit for your site.

How does the Medic Update help my business? As long as you are creating quality content, this update could be great for your business. Google aims at pushing away sites that do not provide relevant or qualified content. As long as you are providing quality content, Google’s algorithm update should make it easier for you to stand out from your competitors. Google’s Search Quality guidelines give some pointers on how to build a high-quality page and therefore increase visibility.

According to Google, high-quality web pages include the following characteristics:

  • A Satisfying Amount of High-Quality Main Content
  • Clear and Satisfying Website Information: Who is Responsible and Customer Service
  • Positive Reputation
  • High E-A-T

What can my business do to work with the changes that the Medic Update has rolled out?

  • Take a breath before you react to any drops you’ve experienced after the update. If you experienced a major drop, you may want to increase ads. Instead, take a moment to analyze and rethink your digital marketing strategy. Increasing ad spend in response to a drop in traffic will not be an effective use of your budget. Potential customers aren’t visiting your site because they want to be sold, they’re visiting your site for information.
  • Focus on improving your site’s E-A-T. Remember, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. If you’re offering advice on your site, is your author an expert on the topic that they’re advising on? Make sure that your content creators are not offering advice that they’re not qualified to give. When you build your authoritativeness, you will appear in more Google search queries.
  • Amp up the quality of your content. Do you understand what kind of content your users and potential customers want? The more you understand how to create high quality and relevant content for your user, the more visible you will become. When thinking about content quality, consider Can I Rank’s definition of content quality, which is that it “isn’t a single signal but some combination of lower-level factors like relevancy, writing quality, satisfying the query intent, and presenting the content well.” Creating quality content consistently is a great way to move up in page rankings. Even though it can take months before you see the results of a content marketing strategy, those results can be long-lasting.
  • Conduct a site crawl. Are there flaws that you haven’t been addressing on your site? What is the user experience like as your potential customers and clients navigate your site’s content? Double check the links on your site to make sure that none of those links are broken. Think through your user’s process and journey from the moment that they arrive on your site to the moment that they leave. The Hoth offers some helpful tips for improving your user experience including building in a lot of white space, structured text like bullet points and block quotes, and clearly labeling ads as sponsored content separate from your main content.
  • Learn from the pages that are doing well. Take a look at the pages that are ranking. If you can determine a pattern of what those pages all have in common, you can use those components to improve your site’s visibility. If your competitors have more or better reviews that your business, find ways to get your customers to write reviews of their experiences with you. If you have some unflattering reviews, use the feedback in the reviews to tighten up your future customer’s experience. It’s also helpful to find ways to make things right with customers who haven’t had stellar experience with your business in the past.
  • Make sure that your site visitors know who you are and how to get in touch. If you don’t have an About page yet, create one. If you have an About page, take a look over the content there to see if there are ways that you can help your users better understand who your business is and how your products and services can serve them. Include ways to get in touch including your business phone number, email address, and social media accounts if you are using those platforms.
  • Check Google Search Console to see if you have any site errors to fix. The function of the Google Search Console is to help you increase your site’s visibility. When the Console alerts you of site errors, make sure to attend to them so that those errors do not obstruct Googlers from finding you.
  • Continue to build your brand. Neil Patel, online marketing expert, says, “The only way to really [build your brand] is by creating value.” Content marketing strategy (which can include blog posts, infographics, social media posts, case studies, how-to videos, etc.), which is a service that we offer at Big Leap, is one of the ways that you can build your brand. When you create content that people are looking for, your popularity can get a boost, which shows up in page rankings.

How can Big Leap help my business adjust to work with the algorithm and still perform well, marketing strategies continue to generate leads?

If you’ve noticed any big changes to your site’s traffic, let’s talk about how we can work together to form new strategies to help your business’s site reach optimum performance. Even if you’ve experienced a drop in rankings, that drop doesn’t need to affect your business permanently. Big Leap is great at building strategies to help you and your small business optimize your site traffic. We’re happy to talk with you about how we can work together.

Ryan Skidmore
Digital Marketing Director
Ryan is a Digital Marketing Director at Big Leap. He is a master of quizzes and all things SEO.
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