August 15, 2018 – Google Search had a broad core algorithm update that began rolling out on July 22nd and peaked its release on August 1-2nd. This resulted in a heavy amount of search ranking fluctuations for many websites in the Google Search index.
This search algorithm update largely affected websites in the health and wellness industry. Over 300 websites were reviewed in survey data with over 42% reporting impacts to their rankings and traffic for their websites specifically in the medical, fitness, health, healthy lifestyle / wellness space.
Usually, core algorithm updates impact websites in all industries. Such as large data segment in a particular industry is not seen often. Many websites in other areas were affected such as those who had e-commerce, insurance, business to business, finance, entertainment etc. but not to the greater scale of health-related websites. Also, factoring in that mange ‘e-commerce’ websites sell health/medical/wellness products would make this 42% closer to 50%.
Basically, Google’s secret sauce for how their search algorithm works and ranks websites based on factors that are not publically known as far as details go. It is estimated there are up to 200-500 ranking factors.
Google makes updates to its algorithm daily and most updates go unnoticed for the most part for the majority of the web. These updates are geared towards improving something specific to help Google Searchers better find the information they are looking for.
Google Panda update targeted content quality
Google Penguin update targeted stopping black hat linking tactics
Google Venice update targeted branding and sitewide authority
When these updates ‘punish’ a bad behavior, there’s some transparency in how to fix your website to recover from these search penalties.
However, a core algorithm update doesn’t address a single bad behavior. Rather, it’s a general clean up and adjustment to how they value various ranking factors such as:
If your website traffic and ranking went down it doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong. There was an adjustment to how Google values various factors that some of your competitors may do much better than your website which was not as valued before the algorithm update.
According to Google, you can’t fix it since there isn’t really anything wrong with your website. It’s just not performing as well as before.
Google claims “changes to our systems are benefitting pages that were previously unrewarded.”
When in doubt, it’s best to follow Google’s advice to stick to creating more valuable content on your website. Anything you can do to increase content that signals expertise, authoritativeness, and trust seem to always have the best impact.
We’re seeing websites that were affected, having tons of quality content, still taking a massive drive from the update. Take a look at the following website that was hit hard:
One factor that was found was that there was not an About page, small amount of trust from external links, and health product recommendations that are not mainstream ‘science’ approved. These were by multiple authors and it seems the reputation of each author was a factor which could be different than the reputation of the full website property as a whole. This means that if your website has many authors, each one needs a bio that gives credibility to their name.
Google is also cracking down on articles that are deemed as ‘clickbait’, which content creators should give further thought to make sure their full article has more reading time by users and Google doesn’t only see a click engagement to the article and an immediate or soon to bounce signal by leaving the page.
Since there is “no fix” that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do. This is a push for you to work harder on your Search Engine Optimization by improving factors on your website from the creation of engaging valuable content to technical factors on your website – keep your audience needs in mind, keep moving, keep improving, and you’ll see results.