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August’s Google algorithm update – chaos caused!

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As you may or may not have known, Google rolled out a major algorithm update on the 1st August, which impacted many websites negatively, a lot of which were affiliate websites. The update has been nicknamed “the medic update” by various SEO experts because it had an especially severe impact on any site in the health, wellness, medical and nutrition sectors.

While certain big authority websites saw huge gains (Healthline.com, WebMD etc.), many websites saw huge traffic losses, some as much as 70% (Draxe.com for example). Very recently, Google completely overhauled their “Search Quality Guidelines”, with many speculating that they’re now enforcing the guidelines in a stricter manner than they previously were.

It has been speculated that Google are now focusing much more on low-quality ‘Your Money or Your Life’ pages (YMYL) and analysing a website’s Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness (E-A-T).

Let’s dig deeper into these two terms.

YMYL pages are pages that will directly or indirectly influence the reader’s financial situation or health. This would explain why financial and health sites were seemingly hit the hardest.

So, how does Google determine whether or not a YMYL page is “high quality”? They now apparently look at the website’s E-A-T.

Google has officially stated in their search quality guidelines that websites should be” written by qualified experts in the respective field”. It would seem now that Google are making a large push to kill off the “bedroom-nutritionist” or the “armchair medical expert”, allowing for the real authoritative information sites to flourish.

But what happens when authoritative, multi-million-dollar websites get negatively hit by this update, as it did with livestrong.com?

Well, the update wasn’t just about E-A-T and policing low-quality YMYL pages, it was also about ensuring that the overall content quality of a website was high too.

Another theory floating around the SEO community is the idea of over-monetisation of content. When the Google crawlers scan content, they’re looking for three things:

  1. MC = Main Content
  2. SC = Supplementary Content that isn’t related to the MC (“related article: check out our best hair products”, “sign up for our newsletter here” etc.)
  3. ADS = Actual PPC banners.

According to some, sites with excessive SC and ADS are now being viewed as lower-quality, thus experiencing a loss in Google search page rankings.

Google Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, confirmed this was a global rollout, impacting all Google search results, no matter what language or region. He also referenced a post of his from March in relation to the effect the update would have…

While Google hasn’t directly confirmed this, they keep stating one thing “just make good content”. Of course, it could be frustrating if you’ve confirmed that your content is the best quality it possibly can be, but if you’ve littered it with banner ads, newsletter opt-in forms and other SC, there’s an argument to say that’s no-longer great content.

If you’re positive that your website E-A-T is solid, maybe it’s time to truly assess whether or not your content really is the best it can be for the reader. If not, take steps to ensure the value being offered is better than your peers to once again pull away from them in that department.