Google Medic Update Aftermath Explained


Google made several changes starting from August 1, 2018, making the search results less predictable.

The update on August 1, 2018, is known as the “Medic Update” because it mostly affected health and medical websites.

However, these changes have now impacted various categories such as online shopping, fashion websites, local businesses, affiliate marketing, and others.

Google states that the initial update wasn’t specifically aimed at medical sites but was a general core update.

The common belief is that this focused on what Google calls “Expertise, Authority, & Trust” (E-A-T) in their Google Rater Guidelines, determined by various signals (as we’ll explore below).

As the latest “Medic” update is happening, remember that there might be other things going on, like the ongoing Penguin updates. We’ve noticed changes related to links in the past few months.

If your website was hacked, the downside of the updates is that most of the advice to fix it until now has been a bit plain, without strong evidence to support it convincingly.

So, in today’s article, we’ll check the newest numbers and explain what you should do based on all the information we have.

We’re also sharing this with the community. If you have any information, even just personal experiences, please share them in the comments. We’ll gather the information and share it for the community’s benefit.

Medic / Late 2018 Core Update Timeline

As mentioned before, there have been many improvements and shifts in search engine results connected to this change since it was first introduced.

Here is a timeline of the many changes that have happened in the last few months:

  • Aug 1 – First “Medic Update” Rollout
  • Aug 17-18 – Tweak To Medic Update (source)
  • Sep 8-11 – Local Update (source)
  • Sept 17-19 Medic Updates (source)
  • Sept 24 – Broad Core Updates (source)
  • Sept 27 – Update (source)
  • Oct Updates – Sistrix points out there is a tie between links and medic, especially for october updates (source)
  • Oct 15 – Update (source)
  • Oct 16 – Update (source, source)
  • Oct 31 – Halloween Update (source)

We’re still working on fine-tuning this update, and there are more updates coming soon.

Actionable Steps For If You Were Hit

Like with any update, figuring out why the problem happened can be tricky, but the good news is we’re seeing signs of sites recovering.

As Google has made things better over the past 5+ years, the industry has worried about being penalized.

However, there’s usually a way to bounce back from almost any type of marketing issue. Let’s discuss several strategies you can use and watch for in this update:

Create New Content To Support Search Intent Changes

We’ve noticed that Google changed how it shows information for many searches. Google is trying to give more details upfront to make users happier.

For example, in the past, if you searched for a supplement, Google might have suggested pages where you could buy it.

Now, Google is showing more pages with information about the supplement before showing a page where you can buy it. This is because of the change.

(From 2018 to early 2019, Google Shopping had a 41% increase in spending compared to text ads. Shopping Ads currently account for 85.3% of all Adwords and Google Shopping campaign clicks combined. However, if you want to rank higher without paying, it’s a good idea to provide helpful information.)

See which pages Google is ranking for terms you’ve lost or dropped. You might need to create a different kind of content instead of trying to change what you currently have.

Penguin – Disavow Unnatural Links

We’ve learned that getting rid of unnatural or low-quality links can help in recovery. Sistrix found a connection between the website addresses and the updates related to health.

Check & Improve Page Speed

Another hot topic has been page speed. As Google transitions sites to mobile-first indexing, it places a greater emphasis on user experience.

Use Google’s tool to test your page speed.

Read Google Rater Guidelines

Discussions surrounding this update frequently mention Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG). While the QRG is a lengthy document, we’ve extracted its key takeaways for your ease of reference below:

Create An About Page, Make Sure it’s Linked from Every Page of the Site

In the rules for evaluating websites, Google highlights the need to identify who is responsible for the site and its content. Creating an ‘About’ page and ensuring easy access is one way to make this clear.

According to the guidelines:

“Every page belongs to a website, and it should be clear: Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) is responsible for the website. Most websites have “contact us” or “about us” or “about” pages that provide information about who owns the site.

Create an Author Bio on Every Post

Google also wants you to say who wrote the content and what their qualifications are.

Following the rating guidelines:

“Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the content on the page you are evaluating…

Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC (main content) on the page. Positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.

[A bad signal would be if]…there is an unsatisfying amount of website information or information about the creator of the MC for the purpose of the page (no good reason for anonymity).”

If you’re using WordPress, you can include a tool called Simple Author Box using plugins.

Create a Job / Careers Page (If applicable)

This is a sign of a genuine business and is discussed in the rater criteria.

According to the rating guidelines:

“Many companies have an entire website or blog devoted to who they are and what they are doing, what jobs are available, etc. Google and Marriott are both examples of this, and there are many others:”

Create A Contact Us / Customer Service Page

This is pretty straightforward for any genuine company, but Google mentions a few things about it.

According to the rating guidelines:

“Look for contact information—including the store’s policies on payment, exchanges, and returns. Sometimes this information is listed under “customer service.”

Look for a “contact us” or “customer service” link. Explore the website if you cannot find a “contact us” page.

“Contact Us” page, does not give the name of a company or a physical address, which also cannot be found anywhere else on the website…”

Get Reviews Off Your Website

Google is well-known. Lately, we’ve seen more schema stars in search results and reviews grouped in information panels.

Following the rating rules:

“..But for Page Quality rating, you must also look for outside, independent reputation information about the website. When the website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources.

Use reputation research to find out what real users, as well as experts, think about a website. Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website.

A mildly negative reputation for a website or creator of the MC, based on extensive reputation research…. For a YMYL website, a mixed reputation is a cause for a Low rating.”

Get Awards For Credibility

Google appreciates rewards and other ways of being seen as credible.

Following the rating guidelines:

“Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper website has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, are strong evidence of positive reputation.

Reputation research is necessary for all websites you encounter. Do not just assume websites you personally use have a good reputation. Please do research! You might be surprised at what you find.

Look for articles, reviews, forum posts, discussions, etc. written by people about the website.”

Get Good Ratings on BBB

Google talks about the BBB a few times in the document.

Following the rating guidelines:

“…However, very low ratings on BBB are usually the result of multiple unresolved complaints. Please consider very low ratings on the BBB site to be evidence for a negative reputation.

[In reference to a low-quality result]…This business has a BBB rating of F.”

Visit the official website of the Better Business Bureau to see your BBB rating.

Improve Content

“Improve your content” is quite vague advice, so let’s break down some simple ways to do that in the following list. Here are a few instances from the reviewer’s document where this is discussed:

“The expertise of the creator of the MC. The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website. The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.

High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis

High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism—they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events.

High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate
scientific expertise and represent a well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.

High E-A-T advice pages on topics such as home remodeling (which can cost thousands of dollars and impact
your living situation) or advice on parenting issues (which can impact the future happiness of a family) should also
come from “expert” or experienced sources that users can trust.

High E-A-T pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.”

Add References To Content

Marie Haynes said that for a successful Medic recovery, they “Added a large number of references to scientific articles in each of their posts.”

Update Old Posts

From the rater guidelines:

“High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc, should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.”

Publish Editorial Policies

From the rater guidelines:

“High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes”

Flesh Out Content Fully

From the rater guidelines:

“4.1 Characteristics of High Quality Pages: A satisfying amount of high quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title.”

For E-Commerce Sites: Add Customer Service Information

From the rater guidelines:

“Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information.”

For E-Commerce Sites: Flesh Out Product Pages

Google wants your product pages to contain a lot of useful information. E-commerce websites can be in trouble if they only use standard manufacturer descriptions.

From the rater guidelines:

“4.2 A Satisfying Amount of High-Quality Main Content

This shopping page on a reputable shopping website has a satisfying amount of high-quality MC. The page provides the manufacturer’s product specs, as well as original product information, over 90 user reviews, shipping and returns information, multiple images of the product, etc.”

Remove ClickBait Style Headlines

Google doesn’t appreciate clickbait; they prefer you to be direct and clear about the content.

From the rater guidelines:

“The title of the MC is exaggerated or shocking.”

Remove Distracting Ads

Ads come up several times in the document. Even though Google has added a lot more ads on their own platform, making them resemble search results rather than ads, Google doesn’t want YOU to do the same.

This is likely the funniest one of them all.

From the rater guidelines:

“The Low rating should be used if the page has Ads, SC, or other features that interrupt or distract from using the MC….

…Pages that disguise Ads as MC.

…Pages that disguise Ads as website navigation links”

Fix Grammar & Punctuation

From the rater guidelines:

“…writing of this article is unprofessional, including many grammar and punctuation errors. factual inaccuracies…

The article has grammar and spelling errors…”

You can use a tool like Grammarly to assist you.

Create Original Content (Especially for E-comm Sites)

Ensure you create your own content and avoid using material that isn’t yours.

From the rater guidelines:

“The Lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the MC on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users. Such pages should be rated Lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source.”


Many of the improvements after the Medic updates come from using a ninja strategy and solving various problems simultaneously. We trust this article provided practical guidance to enhance your search results.

What have you observed on your side? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Christopher Smith
Author: Christopher Smith

SEO and linkbuilding expert. More than 7 years of work in the field of website search engine optimization, specialist in backlink promotion. Head of linkbuilding products at GREAT Guest Posts, a global linkbuilding platform. He regularly participates in SEO conferences and also hosts webinars dedicated to website optimization, working with various marketing tools, strategies and trends of backlink promotion.

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