Content Curator or Coroner? Optimising Your Site for the Google Medic Update.

Has your content been found wanting in the wake of Google’s latest broad core algorithm update? Still not sure what EAT or YMYL even stand for? First time even hearing of the Medic update? Relax ­ we’ve got you covered.

Google has once again shaken up the internets priority lists with the Medic Update; a broad core algorithm update that drastically affected sites in the medical and healthcare industry , finance, travel and real estate.

Why? Well, to protect you. Or more specifically, your money and your life.

So what does this mean for SEO? Today we’re looking at the winners and losers of the Google medic update, and how a simple shift in focus can bring your content strategy back to the front page.

What are Your Money or Your Life Sites?

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) refers to sites that provide information to users that, if incorrect or misleading, could have a drastic impact on that users money or life .

A good example is your average fitness blog. Pumping out half a dozen different articles a day with titles like “how to shed 5 kilos before summer” and “get wolverines biceps with these 4 arm­power exercises”. Make no mistake, this type of content is very popular, incredibly successful, and relevant to a lot of high­volume searches.

But will their advice really help you shed 5 kilos or look like Hugh Jackman? Maybe! But honestly, it’s pretty unlikely.

Why? Because articles and others like them are often badly sourced, written by interns with little real experience (and certainly no qualifications) in the fitness industry, and recycling suggestions they found from a few minutes of googling the question themselves.

Do you trust this site to help you make medical decisions? Hell no! And neither does google, for the same reasons. When it comes to your money or your life, you need to EAT:

How much do you trust the sites you visit?

This was the core question at the heart of the Medic update. Do users trust particular sites more than others, and if so, what factors encourage or discourage trust?

Through millions of individual user reports, Google boiled down their parameters to 3 highline concepts: Expertise, Authority, Trust ­ the now ubiquitous EAT acronym that’s sure to be popping up on your next report.

Where content was previously all about relevance ­ are we talking enough about the core search phrases ­ EAT focuses in on the user intent of the search, and does the content answer the real questions being asked ?

From an SEO perspective, this means addressing the “beneficial purpose” of a page and the content on it, and matching this purpose to particular intents of users. From Google’s own manual on beneficial purpose :

“Google has also added the concept of “beneficial purpose” to the Quality Rater Guidelines, where raters are not just asked to rate the quality of the content, but also consider whether the page has a beneficial purpose or use to being on the site. What would a visitor to the site gain?”

Cracking down on shady, unsourced content

Based on this concept of beneficial purpose, and by analysing the effects of the medic update over the last few months, we’ve been able to identify some basic trends. In a sentence, commercial sites won, and content sites lost.

So content is no longer king?

No, content is still very much king. Remember EAT ­ content is good, but only if it’s well­sourced and referenced content that is written with expertise.

The average commercial site has an advantage over the average content site in this update due mostly to commercial sites being their own point of reference. “How much do we charge for this product? This is the price” is going to be far more accurate than “How much do these other sites charge for their products? Well, we don’t know, here are some estimates”.

Primary sources have more trust and more authority on topics than secondary or tertiary sources, and hence are given more weight by the new Google algorithm.

Creating order and priority based on credibility and authenticity

While it’s easy to be an expert on yourself, it’s much harder to be an expert on every part of your industry, and even more difficult to be a primary source. Difficult, but not impossible.

If you or your SEO marketing agency are writing Your Money or Your Life content , then get ready to put in the work. YMYL pages are required to be authored by experts, and have a much higher standard for meeting EAT than regular pages.

It will be much harder to meet the standards required of these pages, and so the content will need to be much stronger, more informative, more accurately sourced, and with stronger trust flow.

The most surefire way of doing this is to combine site design updates with your new content strategy , and focus on providing all the EAT information required throughout your site. You can do this by making sure you include:

– about us pages
– contact pages
– customer service info
– easy to navigate menus and structure
– regular edits and updates for old content

Writing Content for the Google Medic Update

When writing your content, focus on the beneficial purpose of your writing by putting yourself in the shoes of your target user, and asking yourself these simple questions:

  1. Does my content answer specific questions with detailed information and primary sources?
  2. Does my content provide helpful and unique insights on a topic?
  3. Is my content written by an expert in the field, and is this expert shown to the user?
  4. Would I trust this content?

If you can answer yes to all 4, then you’re writing content that’s ready to be optimised for the medic update!

Illustrations drawn by Chris Messina – Senior Designer, Digital Monopoly

About the Author

Bailey Lions – Head of Account Management, Digital Monopoly

Bailey has over 8 years of digital marketing experience, covering both in­house and agency work across a wide variety of industries. While she doesn’t believe in forming parasocial relationships, you can always share your best work­safe memes with her via LinkedIn.