[SEPTEMBER 2018] Google’s Medic Update Examined

It’s been a little over a month since Google rolled out their latest algorithm update on Aug. 1 –  The Medic Update. Since then, SEO professionals have been carefully analyzing the effects it may have on different sites. At first glance, this update appeared to mainly affect sites in the medical or healthcare verticals. However, after further analysis and a tweet from the Google Search Liaison Twitter account, this algorithm update is confirmed as a broad core algorithm update that has impacted sites in various verticals.

A Closer Look

The update’s impact on local businesses was put under a microscope by local search expert Joy Hawkins. As part of her observation criteria, Hawkins looked at dozens of sites that were (1) optimized for local SEO and (2) that displayed a pattern of the same items across sites.

She found six major patterns during her analysis:

  1. This update was not related to backlinks but instead seemed to be geared more towards on-site content quality.
  2. Visibility for tracked keywords with geo-modifiers outside the local business’ physical address improved. For instance, Hawkins provided the following example: “We work with a company in a suburb of a large city. Let’s say they’re in Addison, Texas, but they get all their customers from Dallas (they’re not, but it’s a similar scenario). With this update, the majority of keywords we were tracking that used [keyword + Dallas] increased, even though his location is in Addison (the suburb of Dallas).”
  3. In most cases, algorithm updates impact either organic or local results. However, The Medic Update impacted both local and organic results. Local rankings were impacted first from Jul. 31 to Aug. 1, while organic rankings were impacted immediately after on Aug. 1 through Aug. 2.
  4. A local business that saw big increases in their organic rankings didn’t necessarily see increases in their local listing rankings, and vice versa. In the past, this wouldn’t have been the case as there is typically a correlation between organic and local results.
  5. After the update, a lot more video carousels appeared on search engine result pages (SERPs) that weren’t previously there.
  6. This update seemed to focus on Your Money Your Life sites (sites that can have an impact on your current or future well-being) the most, with the healthcare industry seeing the biggest impact.

Mindstream Media Group will continue to monitor the impact of The Medic Update and will keep you posted on any significant changes.