Google Medic: New Core Update and What It Means for You
August 13, 2018
The latest algorithm update launched by Google this month has created big changes for all website owners. Within the first 24-hours of its rollout, site owners began commenting about ranking movements, a huge feat considering the impact of past updates. Also, unlike updates of the past, ie Pigeon and Panda, this update, known as Google Medic, is being referred to as a core update, differentiating from minor changes in the algorithm and insinuating this is more of a large-scale change.
While there’s been no advice from Google for website owners on how to work with the latest changes, they’ve hinted that content is key. Genuine content, regular content, and spam-free content. This is all fine and good, but reports have come out that it’s not just organic results being affected, but local business results as well. This has website owners wondering just what was in the latest algorithm mix unleashed on the world.
The Updated Algorithm
It rolled out on the 1st and gradually implemented new changes each day until it’s completion on the 9th. Site owners watched in horror or glee as ranking bounced around until the search engine giant completed the major change. Google reports no fixes necessary and suggested that although this was a broad core change of the algorithm, it was aimed at boosting rankings of previously underappreciated pages, rather than punishing pages with technical issues.
In the past, Google’s algorithm changes have been aimed at catching rule breakers, creating new rules to be broken, and advising site owners on ways to improve their ranking by making changes both technical and content-driven. This time, it appears only content is being majorly affected, but it leaves many site owners asking, “how?”
What It Means For You
Unfortunately, at this time, the discreet changes to the algorithm are still under wraps. Movement is obvious, but the why and what has yet to be discerned. SEO experts are suggesting that site owners who see major movement in their rankings should focus on past content, and future content, being sure that there’s no keyword clutter, fake news, or prohibited content from being displayed.
Site owners can check what is and isn’t allowed via Google’s previous algorithm changes and major announcements. For example, over the past year, anything related to guns and weapons has taken a hit, along with anything that could possibly be called “fake news”. This may be in response to some of the flack that social media sites, like Facebook, have taken this year as the privacy debacle sparked interest into other areas where social media is lacking.
So, what can you take from this? The best way to think about a broad algorithm change like this is to consider the qualities that Google evaluates. There’s somewhere up to 500 different characteristics that Google pours over when categorizing your site and placing it in a ranking of peer sites. The broad core change has less to do with penalizing sites which aren’t doing what they should be doing, and more to do with altering the order in which these characteristics are ranked. That might sound confusing, but basically, it seems that Google has taken a look at their ranking strategy and changed the order in which previous characteristics were being ranked.
An example of this would be if Google ranked based on only 5 characteristics or qualities. Let say that Google ranked on image quality, number of visitors to a site, amount of content on a site, mobile friendliness of a site, and customer interaction from a site. If these were the only factors Google ranked on and in the past, and they were ranked in this exact order, a core change could suddenly swap these around. Perhaps they decided that number of visitors to a site was less important than content, and that customer interaction was the number one priority for ranking. These indicators are what could gain or lose you ground in your search engine rank.
Public Opinion on the Changes
Currently, opinions are split, but as site owners still aren’t exactly sure what they’re being ranked on; it’s difficult to produce a thoughtful and reasoned opinion. Some are for the change, enjoying the sudden bounce upward in ranking, while sites which lost footing are scratching their heads and feeling suddenly betrayed by the search engine giant which won’t explain their reason for the move.
Fortunately, site owners can rest assured that further changes are coming, as they always do. And smaller algorithm changes, like Penguin and Pigeon, come with their own set of rules and regulations to follow, making it easier to determine how to move ranking placement and why it’s been changed.
SEO Advice to Follow
Even top SEO experts are stuck wondering what to do about client site movement following this latest change. The best advice you can follow is to do exactly as Google advised and focus on content. Content is key with these large scale makeovers, and checking out past and present content before continuing with new content will help you maintain your ranking, or rise to the top. Ultimately, Google is focused on user satisfaction, so helping internet users will help your site. If your site isn’t user friendly, mobile friendly, or easily read, you’ve got a problem.
Create content which is focused on your target audience. Be interactive with your audience to create ideas for future content. Always keep your content clean, genuine, and moving. Keep your eye on Google’s official page for more information on this and future changes.