On a Google Webmaster Hangout, a publisher asked how to recover from the so-called Medic Update. The Googler gave a detailed answer comparing the benefit of small tweaks versus taking a bigger step to review the content then identifying where it may not be relevant.
This official Google Webmaster Hangout was a bilingual version in English and Telugu.
How to Recover From Medic Update
The answer to recovering from the “Medic” update may depend on first stepping back and reviewing the content sitewide. The Googler stated that making small changes can be helpful, but that if your site got hit by Medic, you may have to consider taking bigger steps.
He cautioned that there is no single solution because the answer depends specifically on your website.
“So, regarding the Medic Update question, I would say it depends upon your websites.”
Then he gave examples of different approaches:
“For example, if you feel like there are a lot of pages on your website where you can improve content, then I would look at say an overhaul of the website, not just trying to change or tweak.”
In my opinion, making a large change must be undertaken with caution. First, you should make sure there are no technical issues compounding other on-page issues. Then do an objective review to identify where your pages are going wrong. It’s very important to develop a plan and be confident in that plan.
The Googler went on:
“You can try and tweak things a little bit here and there… titles or making better snippets or adding structured data and so on.
But if that doesn’t change anything I would say actually go for like… take a bigger step and see what are the queries going forward, this year, next year… and how can I make… overall holistic changes to my website that can help me rank better instead of trying to just make smaller tweaks. “
Now here is where the Googler makes a statement about what it means to be hit by an algo update. He says it’s about your content.
“If you’re hit with an update that means Google doesn’t feel your site is relevant.
Because if you feel like you’ve been hit by an algorithm, then that probably means Google doesn’t feel like a lot of content on your website, is not very relevant.”
Didn’t Danny Sullivan Say Nothing to Fix?
On August 1, 2018, Danny Sullivan via the Google Search Liaison Twitter account announced a broad core update and tweeted that the guidance remained the same as his previous tweet in March 2018. That March 2018 guidance stated:
There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.
This Googler’s suggestions to review the content may sound like it contradicts Danny Sullivan’s announcement that there is nothing to fix. But it’s not a contradiction. The context of Danny’s statement was a history of SEOs trying to identify what Google was “targeting” in an update.
The insistence that Google updates are targeting something is what led some to call the August 2018 update, the Medic Update because it was perceived that the broad core update was targeting medical sites. Additionally, the SEOs industry had insisted that Google was targeting “quality” issues like thin content that needs fixing, slow pages that need fixing, title tags that need fixing, and bad user experience that needs fixing.
Danny’s statement may have been meant to head off the speculation that leads to fixing low quality issues.
This Googler’s advice appears to be in line with Danny’s encouragement to stay focused on building great content.
He says that if you try fixing things with little tweaks, and find that it’s not fixing anything, that may be because there’ s nothing to fix. His conclusion is that what’s at issue is that your web pages may not be relevant. So technically, it’s not that there’s something bad about your page.
Here is what the Googler stated:
“So making smaller tweaks may not really push the needle all that much. So you probably have to make larger changes across the website for a lot more pages, where you know… you can try and see.
Like in the question you mentioned looking for search console queries. So you can actually look at the bigger theme of those queries and try to create content in that aspect. So that you can then actually push the needle instead of making it smaller.”
Takeaways on Medic Update Recovery
I’ve reviewed many websites hit by the Medic Update and sometimes the issue was subtle and hard to see. The answer sometimes was found in the sites that were ranking. And just like this Googler advised, sometimes it can be fixed with minor tweaks but for other sites I have reviewed, it meant considering some hard decisions about the content. As the Googler said, it depends on the website.
- The Complete List of Google Penalties & How to Recover
- Google’s John Mueller on Penalty Recovery
- Google Offers Advice on Recovering From a Penalty
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Screenshots by Author, Modified by Author