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How I Recovered from Google’s Medic Update [A Practical Case Study]

The Internet shake-up brought by the Google update from last August is still the point of origin for numerous tremors and aftershocks. This overhaul, called the Medic Update because of the impact on health and medical sites, had a massive effect on SEO.

In a statement by Google, the search engine giant shared that the update reached markets around the globe. Additionally, Google asserted the update was a “broad core algorithm update, and the company rolls out similar updates several times a year.”

Google advised site owners that there was no fix for the update and that some web pages lost rankings and site traffic while others gained in those respects. The advice from Google was for owners to focus on making their web pages the best they can be for SEO purposes. The hope expressed was that over time, these sites would see gains in the rankings. Google expressed the belief that the update would reward sites that, up to this point, were insufficiently rewarded.

Which Websites Were Hit the Hardest?

Google’s focus was the websites in the health, fitness, and lifestyle sectors. Additionally, websites known as ‘Your Money or Your Life’ pages received stringent oversight via the Medic Update. Google loosely defines YMYL sites as those which may impact your present or future well-being. According to Google, YMYL web pages share at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Sites offering health or medical advice or information that could potentially affect your physical well-being
  • Sites giving counsel on major life issues like parenting or significant purchases like a home or car
  • Sites providing information with the potential to impact your future security or happiness such as legal or financial advisors
  • Any site collecting personal information useful in perpetrating fraud or identity theft such as drivers license numbers, government identification numbers, credit card details, or bank account information
  • Web pages that allow users to purchase goods or services via credit card or bank account

This description covers a huge amount of virtual marketplace real estate. While there were a great many people in the same boat, not being alone in a dilemma offered little comfort.

There was considerable uproar, especially from those business whose owners awoke to see their sites that formerly had a good ranking on the first page of a search query significantly reduced overnight. In addition to dramatic drops in ranking and traffic, there were scores of companies who saw site traffic and search ranking erode slowly but steadily over time.

My Beginings With IsaTonic

It is important to note, before the Google Medic update, my site promoting the healthy Isagenix lifestyle, www.isatonic.com.au, was flourishing.

My journey with the company started in January 2014, when I launched IsaTonic. By mid 2014, I had the distinction of being the number one enroller in Australia. As of November 2018, I was the number one Isagenix retailer in the world. My IsaTonic website consistently ranked on the first search page for the keywords ‘Isagenix’, ‘buy Isagenix’ and other competitive terms.

Contrary to popular belief, not every business experienced the Google Medic Update’s impact in an immediate ‘the sky is falling’ way. There were other companies that Google claimed were under-rewarded by the previous algorithm which saw gains ranging from nominal to phenomenal. This was not my experience.

My own encounter with the Google Medic Update was not wildly different from that of others. I will share the experiences encountered with IsaTonic. Additionally, I will explain how I managed to regain solid footing on the coveted first search page.

What Happened to My Business After the Google Medic Update?

The primary keyword for my IsaTonic business is ‘Isagenix, and prior to the Medic Update, this ranked solidly on page one. Once the algorithm changed, I saw my page one ranking gradually dwindle from the first search page down the line, eventually landing on page ten.

I did not experience the overnight plummet of some web pages. The decline I witnessed took several agonising months; every week, the ranking dropped a bit more. At the same time, other keywords I used successfully in the past, such as ‘buy Isagenix’ also slid lower in the rankings.

As a result of these keyword declines, IsaTonic saw a marked decrease in site visits. I lost between 50-60% of my pre-update traffic.

Here’s a snapshot of the first 3 months in 2019 vs the same 3 months in 2018:

My SEO traffic after the Medic update

How Did I Rectify the Situation?

To attain success in any area of your personal or professional life, you need to face adversity head-on with a positive attitude. This was a critical point as I faced the aftermath of the Medic Update. Panicking and fretting will never solve a problem, period.

My first step towards repairing a situation that Google said had no fix, was to compile as much information as possible to learn what specifics Google now held as their gold-standard in SEO ranking. Working with others who also have experience in the area of SEO and Google’s Medic Update, I found some key factors in the latest algorithm implemented by the search engine giant.

Specifically, Google’s new standards focused on what is known in the industry as E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.) With a definite emphasis on trustworthiness.

This harkens back to what I mentioned earlier regarding websites with the potential to impact consumers present or future wellbeing. For a website to get high marks on all three elements requires some specific data presented in the right way according to the Google Search Quality Evaluating Guidelines. 

  • To begin, I addressed the factor of expertise. I had numerous successful years as an Independent Associate of Isagenix that gave me a wealth of knowledge about the product, its components, and its use. However, the Medic Update scanned web pages for associations to people with specific medical or health-based education and experience.
  • Since I already had a team of health experts as a part of IsaTonic, I created specific pages for each member. This highlighted the fact that my site employs legitimate experts able to offer advice based on years of formal training.
  • Authoritativeness refers to a site’s association with other sites considered highly credible in the same or related fields. This follows after the old adage ‘birds of a feather gather together.’ As with the expertise factor, I have strong affiliations with sites which exhibit a great deal of knowledge in related fields. I simply needed to be sure these affiliations were made known in a clear way.

There are several ways to demonstrate the trustworthiness of your website to Google. Here are some examples of actions I used to help restore my web page’s SEO ranking.

  • I made a point to reach out to customers and ask for a review on my website. This may sound simplistic, but satisfied customers who share good experiences enhance your business’ trustworthiness. Think about the last tradie review you read. If the reviewer praised the company and workers for their skills, punctuality, and knowledge, you might consider them for your own project. If you saw a review stating the workers were sloppy, disorganised, and napped during work hours, you would not trust them to handle your project.
  • I highlighted the fact that my products have a risk-free money back guarantee. While this guarantee appeared on my site, I placed it on more pages within my website. Trustworthiness grows exponentially when a company will give you a refund if you are not happy with the product. This also eliminated Google’s concerns about businesses taking customers’ money.Money back guarantee increases trust
  • Having a solid ‘about us’ page is very important since the Medic rollout. I expanded that section in the IsaTonic site and also added a section where customers can meet our team. Having a face and a little background helps build trust and raises a customer’s comfort level.Team member
  • I invested the time necessary to look over the content of my site. I removed very old content and short stale blog posts. Keeping content fresh and relevant helps your customers and also displays your knowledge and trustworthiness.
  • I added a noticeable privacy policy, so visitors understand that I keep their information safe.
  • I gave customers several options to reach a member of my team or me if they had a question or an issue. Customers can get in touch via live chat, email, phone, or by using a contact form.

Results

These actions had the intended results. My website traffic has improved and ‘Isagenix’ is once again on the first search page. Other keywords like ‘buy Isagenix’ are #1 on page one, too.

As you can see, even though the Google Medic Update did wreak havoc for myself and multiple websites around the world, rebounding was manageable and attaining a ranking on page one of the search engine was within my grasp.

I am not trying to say this was easy; it was necessary for the well being of my business that I implemented as many positive strategies as possible. If this seems a bit overwhelming, do not despair, seek out the help of a seasoned professional who can do the tasks that are needed to make your SEO rankings soar.