The August 1, 2018 Google Update strongly affected YMYL sites.

My thoughts on the August 1, 2018 Google Algorithm Update

Last updated: August 8, 2018

I have been covering algorithm updates for a long time and this is one of the biggest updates that I can recall. It is important to note that most sites that I monitor did not see any significant changes. However, the majority of those that did see changes were very strongly affected.

This algorithm update appears to have affected both the organic search results and the local results (i.e. maps listings.) I initially had wondered if the local changes were just reflecting the differences in organic, as organic rankings are likely a factor in where Google places you locally. However, as local SEO expert Joy Hawkins has pointed out, this does not appear to be the case. This really does look like a change to both of the organic and local ranking algorithms.

Note: While this article focuses on mainly the effects of this update on YMYL sites, it looks like it is much broader than just that. There is a local component, and also some sites that are not YMYL are affected as well. 

Added August 8: Barry Schwartz has coined this the Medic Update as a large number of sites in medical niches were affected. But please know that this update does expand outside of those verticals.

 

Early observations

Usually when I write a post about a big algorithm update, I wait for a couple of weeks to pass so that I can fully investigate. However, in this case, I am getting so many emails that I wanted to have my thoughts in an article quickly. The fact that I’m getting this many emails tells us that this is an update with huge impact. The influx of emails is at least five times as many as we received for the March 9 update and that was a huge update as well.

Here are my early observations:

  • This update has mostly affected YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites.
  • Many sites in the diet, nutrition and medical device niches were greatly affected.
  • Many large changes with multiple locations across the country appear to have dropped in rankings in favor of smaller, locally based businesses.

I’ll explain these in greater detail later in this article.

 

What we know so far

Google does not always announce that they have made an algorithm update. However, this time they have. Danny Sullivan, using the Search Liaison twitter account tweeted the following, which essentially just told us that this was a similar update to the March 9 Google update:

Search Liaison Aug 1

When asked how a site could recover from being negatively affected by this update, Danny gave the usual Googley answer of “just create great content”. He pointed out that the Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG) are a great guide to help us determine what Google considers to be high quality. I was thrilled to see that Danny quoted a tweet of mine as an example of how a site can see improvements after implementing changes based on the QRG:

 

 

 

For this particular site, we had done a site quality review and had recommended a number of changes. The most important changes though were in how this site demonstrated their E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust) and also in improved internal linking. With a couple of months of instituting changes, they jumped from page 2-3 for their main terms to top three rankings for most of them.

 

 

We also know that this update has not finished rolling out yet:

 

 

Diet and Nutrition Sites

There was huge movement in this vertical. Some sites saw massive drops (screenshots from SEMRush):

August 1 traffic drop

Aug 1, 2018 traffic drop

 

And others saw incredible gains:

August 1, 2018 update

 

I believe that what we are seeing here is the effect of Google finding new ways to evaluate YMYL sites in terms of safety and trust.

 

What the QRG say about safety

 

This highlighted section was recently added to Google’s QRG:

QRG on safety

They also added information to say that even if a website or the creator of its content have a mildly negative reputation, this can be a sign of low quality:

QRG changes

To investigate this, I looked at the SERPS for “keto diet”. (I’m really familiar with most of these websites as I’ve been actively keto for seven months now and down almost 30 lbs. Woohoo!)

 

The site that used to rank #1 for this phrase in July of 2018 was ketodash.com. They were hit REALLY hard:

keto dash drop

If you look at the page that used to rank well for this term, it has loads of good, helpful information. So why were they hit?

No one outside of Google can say what changed in the algorithm to cause this drop. But, here are my thoughts based on things in the QRG.

1) There is no about page for this site. The QRG are really clear in saying that it should be obvious who is responsible for the information on a site:

QRG - who is responsible for site

2) The site has very little external reputation. The main purpose of this site appears to be to sell their “keto dash system”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with selling a product on your website. However, the QRG state that a product should have a really good reputation. Lack of reputation, or even a mildly negative reputation can be a sign of low quality.

QRG - low quality

When we searched for reviews on the keto dash system, there were none easily found:

keto dash reviews

 

3) The site may be advocating a medical treatment that goes against the scientifically agreed upon consensus. Here is what the QRG say:

high E-A-T

 

This website is a big advocate of exogenous ketones. Now, I could be wrong on this, but from what I understand, the general scientific consensus on exogenous ketones is that they can help increase ketone levels, but they don’t really do much to contribute to weight loss.

I do think that this is important.

If you are selling a health related product that has either a negative reputation, or has no obvious scientific backing, you may find that Google’s algorithms trust you less.

Qualities of diet/nutrition sites that saw gains

The top result right now for “keto diet” is from dietdoctor.com. Here are my thoughts on why they saw improvement.

1) The author of articles are clearly labelled. Also, they are physicians with high E-A-T.

author E-A-T

Dr. Eenfeldt has a Wikipedia page, has authored many books and is known as an authoritative leader in the field of low carb, high fat diets.

 

2) The main purpose of the site appears to be in providing information, rather than selling a product.

When I look at the home page of the keto site that saw losses, there are sales pitches everywhere for their system. On dietdoctor, I could not find a product or a sales pitch. Again, it’s not wrong to sell a product on your site. But, Google wants to rank sites that set out with a primary purpose of helping people rather than selling to them.

Regarding ketone supplements, they have this to say, “Any prescription-free supplements for sale that are not dangerous or illegal (like steroids) are likely to have a small or negligible effect on your weight.” In other words, they’re not pushing products that go against the scientific consensus in terms of efficacy.

 

3) They have a lot of signs of authority. The site has thousands of user comments that are helpful to people. There are reviews online (of their advice, not of products) which all seem to be good:

good review

 

It also helps that they have an incredible amount of content in each of their articles.

What can we learn from looking at these two sites?

It is my opinion that the August 1, 2018 Google update was hard on nutrition and diet sites because it found new ways to investigate safety. This fits with the “T” in E-A-T – Trust.

If you run a diet or nutrition site, the following are all going to be important factors in how you rank:

  • Is your content written by people who are truly known as authorities in their field?
  • Do your business and your writers have a good reputation?
  • Are you selling products that are potentially either scams, not helpful, or even harmful to people?

If you are lacking business or author reputation or have products that don’t inspire trust, then re-establishing trust and ranking well again may be difficult.

 

Medical Products

Another niche that saw incredible shifts is in sites that sell medical products. Let’s once again look at some examples. In July of 2018 if you did a search for “glucometer”, you would see that this post ranked #2 behind Amazon.

However, this site has seen big drops with this update.

diabetes drop

Keeping in mind what the QRG says about E-A-T, here are my thoughts as to why they saw drops:

 

1) Although they have some medical E-A-T, it’s likely not enough. Their About page lists several contributors who are nurses. This is better than most sites. But, their #2 ranking behind Amazon was taken over by Cnoga Medical. You can see on their About page that this company is recognized as an authority on glucometers. The company is lead by Dr. Yosef Segman who is published all over the place and well recognized.

2) The author of this post has no medical E-A-T.

no author E-A-T

If you click on Bridget’s name, you won’t see an author bio, but rather, just a list of articles she has written on the site. I had to do a bit of searching, but did find her LinkedIn bio. It looks like she is a great writer, and although she has been writing on this type of subject for a while, she has no medical E-A-T.

Some of their authors don’t even have a last name:

no author name

 

Again, the QRG say that lack of author E-A-T is a sign of low quality:

Author E-A-T

 

3) There is no obvious purpose for this site. The new version of the QRG has a lot of information on how important it is to be able to discern the purpose of a site. They instruct the quality raters to determine the site’s purpose and then decide whether they are fulfilling their purpose. They say that all of the following could be a sign that the website is not fulfilling their purpose:

page purpose

The home page of this site is simply a list of articles. As a reader, I would like to see more that inspires trust. It should be really clear whether your site exists to sell products, to inform people, or for some other reason. If you are an affiliate site, then tell that to your readers! If you sell leads, then this needs to be disclosed. People do not want to go to a place for information and then suddenly realize that they are expected to buy a product or speak to someone to be sold as a lead.

4) There is very little external reputation for this site. When I Google “Diabetes Council” it turns out that there is an officially recognized organization with this name. I could not find much reputation information on thediabetescouncil.com.

Multilocation sites

I feel that this part of the update may be separate from what we have discussed above. However, it is possible that this is just another change in the way that Google recognizes E-A-T.

I don’t have nearly as much information on this topic than on the changes seen in the YMYL sites listed above. I’m including it though as I think there is more research to be done in this area just yet.

I had several large multi-location national chains reach out to me to say that they had seen an overall drop in location keywords with this update. It seems to be that in many cases Google has boosted a locally recognized authority in the SERPS. Here is an example:

 

HVAC Detroit

July rankings:

1) Yelp

2) Home Advisor

3) The Air King

 

August rankings:

1) Yelp

2) Detroithvacinc.com (formerly #11)

3) Home Advisor

Joy Hawkins is noticing that in the local rankings, some sites that were previously filtered out are now displaying. Also, some sites that used to display are now being filtered.

I will come back and update this post if I can get more information on what is happening here.

Conclusions

The August 1, 2018 Google update was a massive one. I believe that it was primarily about Google’s ability to determine E-A-T for a website. I also think that the T in E-A-T became even more important as Google is working harder to determine which websites are the most trustworthy to show searchers.

What can you do if you were hit?

If you are a multi-location business that saw drops, stay tuned. As I get more information I’ll share that with you. You may want to sign up for my newsletter so that you can be notified of my findings.

If you are a YMYL site that saw drops, I would recommend the following:

 

  • Display all of your E-A-T. Your About page should be full of reasons why you are known as the most authoritative business in your vertical. Brag about awards won, press recognition, years of experience and more. Note: We don’t know whether Google actually gets this information from your About page or not. But, our thought is that whatever we can do to help Google understand our E-A-T is good.
  • Display your author E-A-T. Every article on your site should have an author listed. That listing should link to an author bio that brags about their E-A-T.
  • Improve the reputation of your business and your authors. You can often do this by getting favorable press coverage. But, know that Google is pretty good at knowing which parts of sites are written by journalists who can be paid off vs staff journalists who are truly uncovering the news. Other ways to improve your reputation include fostering user reviews across the web, increasing the number of testimonials displayed on your site, getting your authors published in authoritative places outside of your site amongst other things. If you are looking for help in establishing E-A-T, my team and I can do an E-A-T review for you and give you some suggestions. You can contact me for details.
  • Take a good hard look at the products that you are offering. If you sell a product that could be considered sketchy, spammy or harmful to people, then this could be the cause of your ranking drops. I recognize that in some of these niches, competition is fierce to the point of competitors slandering each other with bad reviews. Hopefully Google is able to look past that. If you have real users leaving bad reviews about your products or complaining about your business, then this issue must be addressed.
  • If applicable, build up product E-A-T. If you sell a diet product, a medical device, or some other health related product, then there needs to be extensive information on the web about this product. You can improve product E-A-T by fostering reviews, generating discussions and having a product that is so good that people truly want to talk about it.

 

 

These are all things that are pretty hard to fix unless you truly are one of the most trustworthy and helpful sites in your industry. I do think that recovery is possible for some of these sites, but extremely difficult. We have worked with some sites to help them display their E-A-T in a better way, help them determine what types of press they can get to help and also make other changes in their site such as better displaying the purpose of their pages. We have seen some of these sites make nice improvements.

Here is a site that already had good authority in their vertical, but were not displaying their E-A-T well. They saw nice improvements after making changes to their About page. Keep in mind though that we also recommended a number of other changes as well:

E-A-T improvements

 

Here is another site that had serious E-A-T issues. This is a medical site. They had articles that were written by people with no medical E-A-T. After working with us, they hired physicians to co-author medical articles. Again, other changes to improve quality were made, but we believe that the recent gains seen were due to the improvement in E-A-T:

Author EAT improvements

Your thoughts?

Were you affected by this algorithm update? I’d love for you to leave a comment below. If you are interested in having my team and I review your site, we offer site quality reviews, or also reviews that look at your site in the eyes of Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines. You can contact me for a quote.

 

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Dr. Marie Haynes is recognized as a leader in the SEO industry and has 10+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their site quality. She is a frequent contributor to Moz.com and Search Engine Watch and a regular speaker at Pubcon and SMX. Marie was named one of the top five industry influencers by Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, and constantly stays up to date with changes to Google’s algorithms to the benefit of her clients. To contact Marie, visit the contact page. For media Inquiries, click here.
171 Comments
  1. Hey Marie! Very thorough explanation. I have been researching among the sites I monitor and I agree with you that the medical niche suffered extreme changes. I received an email from a site that does medical research but the owner of the site publishes the physicians articles with his name so the author of the articles shows the owner’s name instead of the name of the physician and I am certain that is likely the cause why they saw big drops in rankings.

    • Here is the thing with diabetes though doctors are not the experts but rather CDEs (certified diabetes educators) and nurses and our pages that got hit were all written by CDEs/Nurses with 20 years of experience in diabetes.

      I cannot buy the idea that “about us” page could have such a serious impact.

      I think this update was overall after all health sites and I know why G is going for health sites 🙂 no hard feelings when money is on the plate.

      For example, the page that Marie shared from our site in this piece was written by Bridget who has lived every single moment of her life since she has been a mom with diabetes. She is one of the leading advocates of diabetes and our page on the topic was the most comprehensive piece.

      • Keep in mind too, that my comments are based on a quick spot check as I was looking for an example of a site that had dropped for “glucometer”. There could be other issues with the site as well. Our normal site investigations take us a good two weeks to complete and we look at a lot more factors.

        • I agree with you and that is why we contacted you to dig this deeper because I have some thoughts on this update, I have spent my life doing research in health niche and content creation.

        • Just a quick observation here on the “glucometer” page, that keyword only appears 7-8 times in that large body of content and not in any heading tags, to me that is not giving a clear enough signal to Google.

          • And almost no heading tags even have any form of a glucose keyword in them.

          • I’d disagree here. I think this goes well beyond on page keyword use.

            • Here’s the point I’m trying to make. We live in a new environment where long-form content is much more popular, and with long-form content, the ability to make content errors is VERY HIGH. Meaning, you write 3,000 words and use tons of images and graphs, you are bound to get off topic and dilute your theme to the search engines. People design their pages based on there “visual view” of the page, NOT with the proper H tags and image alt tags the way Google needs to see them.

              Example:

              This page ranks #1 for “apple cider vinegar”

              https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits/

              Look at how clean the H2’s are with the main keyword on them.

              Now look at this page ranking #9:

              https://draxe.com/apple-cider-vinegar-uses/

              Most of draxe H tags are H4’s with terrible relation to the main keyword and the page is overwhelming with information.

              I agree that we need to consider offsite factors like E-A-T and links etc., but how can we even consider those offsite factors when the onsite is not done properly? I believe these onsite factors are dull and boring to most people and no one thinks they matter anymore, but it’s very clear when you compare a #1 ranking page with lower ranking pages.

      • It’s too soon for anyone to really know what the scope of the update is because Google says it’s still rolling out. But I have read comments from more people with Websites in health and nutrition than any other category (allowing for the fact most people who complain about lost rankings provide no information on their sites or what niches they compete in).

        Healthline, which has been around since 2004, has hit a lot of people’s radar. I’ve never paid attention to the site but it does seem to be showing up in queries I have examine before, where I don’t recall seeing it. Looking at their content, I find that it’s shallow and written for anything other than “expertise, authority, and trust”. It’s a combination of “top 10” style articles and rehashes of more authoritative sites’ detailed information on symptoms and side effects.

        Marie’s hypothesis seems sound but unprovable, but it would certainly explain why better sites that used to rank well are being outranked by these kinds of unexpected results. Google is trying to “reward” sites that should (in their opinion) have been doing better. They could have dialed it up a bit too much in some cases. I would hate to see sites that have regained some lost traffic lose their traffic, but I’d rather not see what I call “content spam” being rewarded.

        • You are mistaken about Healthline. It is currently the second biggest health website in the world and has been so for a while. The quality of the content is definitely much higher than on comparable medical sites like WebMD.

          • I have to say that I agree with Kris. I’ve seen this site come up a lot on searches over the last couple of years and have noted that they do have some good, helpful content.

            • FYI Kris works at healthline.

              • My personal feeling is that healthline is using its high DA to produce large number of shallow articles and I have a few examples below:

                For example they have article about health benefits of olive leaf extract (didn’t put link but you can easily find it):

                it is extremely shallow with not much info. It also discusses “olive oil extract” – But there is no such thing. Also their research just discusses olive leaf (and not olive oil extract). But their article was reviewed by a doctor – not sure what sort of review the doctor did.

                Another article on how to make yourself pee – very shallow article with little research. It is mostly taken from other sites. Again reviewed by RN

                Article about natural birth control – very shallow. Not much research there to support what they wrote. But reviewed by medical professional.

                Its worth mentioning that they have sister site named medical news today. They share subjects and in many cases both sites appear in first places. Both sites have shallow content.

                The fact that google loves them can give us a few ideas on how to deal with this algo change.

                Also Kris – you work for Healthline now.

          • Since you sold your website to them and work for them, your opinion doesn’t matter.

            • The funny thing is Kris, all respect due to you, I loved your site and have been an admirer of yours for sometime, but if your site was still running and you hadn’t sold it your site would have tanked too from this update, i have no doubt about that.

              • please delete my comment, i do not want it to come across as mean to Kris

              • Sure…can you show me which comment? And then I’ll delete it.

              • hi Aires

                Shall I openly put here some link tactics used by healthline in the field of link spam :)…!

                but I am serious…. people are so much after healthline and lets see how people react to the GREAT HEALTH site tactics … this will be a nice case study too…

                i loved your comment … he would be TANKED instead of RANKED … Rhyming too hehe

        • They have seen a 10 million in traffic increase and the funniest thing is that some of the pages we created they have copied it word for word with small changes and now they are the top result!!

          • I have nothing against Healthline, but the info they provide is far from scientific. Recently, they have bought some super powerful websites in the same niche which helped them a lot. Just good content is not enough.

            • I agree with you that good content is not enough. The content should come from someone who has a lot of experience with a subject. but how can Google determine that this author is the best one in the field of the article?

  2. Amazing rundown, I think those two keto sites you mentioned are the perfect examples to juxtapose against each other. The E-A-T explanation makes a lot of sense here. Pretty crazy if Google algorithmically finds out and weight about us pages for example, but those are just one of many trust signals.

    Interested to see how things shake up over the next week.

    • Joseph, but doesn’t that encourage more fake about us pages? We spent half a million in great content that answered users questions and helped them find the right answer. If you did 90% of the job and I still slap you with a penalty then it doesn’t make sense to me.

      What if you were the leading expert on topic of “keto” but you were not a doctor? What if you offered the most compelling content that users loved and it really helped them? What if you spent 20 years helping tens and thousands of people with keto.

      Does it make sense to penalize you because you are not a real doctor and didn’t have an about page?

      I find it weird that “about page” should have such a monumental impact on your ranking. But then again there will always be collateral damage and there is not much you can do about it.

      • I think I may have caused some confusion in my writing about About pages. I don’t think it’s as simple as Google saying, “Ah, their about page says their content is written by doctors, so they’re good to go!” I do think that Google gets the vast majority of their info from outside sources. It’s good to beef up your about page as we don’t know if perhaps that’s a starting point for Google to get their info.

        Let’s look at a case where a person was an expert on keto but not a doctor. I do think that they could do well provided they are widely recognized as an expert. How would Google know that? They could look at places where this person is quoted, what other people are saying offline, etc.

        I wouldn’t focus too much on the actual content of the About page and rather whether a site truly is known as an authority.

  3. Nice!! 🙂

  4. Hey Marie,

    I could understand if they went after one, two, three, four or even 10 pages but when they go after 99% of your quality content which has all the elements of (EAT + best content out there for the user) then you sort of shake your head in disbelief.

    At least this thought me a lesson, burn our money but do not invest half a million in great content to please Google because they will find a reason to kick you out.

    • I’m really sorry that this is happening to your site Ady. It was sort of random that I singled you out as I was looking for a medical device/equipment post that had dropped and that was not from a client of mine. In terms of diabetes, it is really really important to have good E-A-T. I think you can probably do a better job of how the E-A-T you have is displayed. But, you may need to make stronger associations will well known endocrinologists.

      • I have contacted you to talk this further, I think there is a lot we can dig with our site and few other sites I know to find some better patterns.

        I am sure E-A-T has an element but I have a feeling it has more to do with the comprehensiveness of a given term/topic.

        I see a trend where articles 3-5k words that cover everything on a theme has gotten hit pretty bad and one of our goals with the website was to make sure we go through a “searchers journey” so that we can cover everything possible.

  5. Totally agree. I had seen the same behaviour.
    Thnx.

  6. Cant wait to hear all about your suggestions at our Ottawa workshop this week!

  7. Thanks Marie for the great info. Enjoyed reading the article.

  8. If this is the case why would a local 7 yr old business with a site with over 30 business locations in a reputable building market in a fully registered regulated market see a drop on all their local map listings with each location having a dedicated page ranking top 3 organically and see all their matching map listings disappear

    • There appears to be a separate local component to this update. I’m not sure whether this is connected to E-A-T or not. I’m waiting for Joy Hawkins to chime in with more of her thoughts.

  9. Hi Marie
    Very interesting read. Thanks for this. It would appear my site was affected by the March update without me knowing there was an actual update. Business was great upto around April where it dropped off quite badly and the last 2 months have been as if we’ve been wiped off the web!
    Although not in the diet or nutrition sector, (we transfer Cine Film and video to digital formats for our customers), it could explain the downturn. I SEO our site myself and to the best of my ability (which isn’t great I know haha), but this has been a real head scratcher. 👍

    • I’ve seen drops in sites with a similar product to yours. I’d spend time looking at your product E-A-T. Is it known as the best? Are there bad reviews? Are there many complaints?

  10. Interesting findings. What do you think could be done by affiliate websites to display E.A.T? I understand that these kinds of websites are also YMYL kind of websites.

    • I rewrote part of the article to be more clear about what I’m saying about About pages. While I do think it’s important to display all of your E-A-T on your about page, in most cases E-A-T is something that can’t be faked. The majority of what Google learns on E-A-T for your site is from off site links and mentions. So yes, you want to brag as much as you can on places where you have been mentioned elsewhere, but the key is to truly get mentioned in authoritative places. And, Google knows which places to trust. They know that a mention from the contributor section of Forbes could be paid and likely isn’t worth much. But a link from a staff journalist who actively seeks out news and wrote about you is a great thing.

  11. Hi Marie,

    Great article, explains a lot. Glad to be on your list 🙂

  12. Can you share some EAT live pages to look for?

    • Your About page or your author bio is a great way to display E-A-T, but it really only works if you truly have E-A-T. One of my favorite examples of a good author E-A-T page is this one.

      • the website you mention: thebalancecareers was super affected by the new algorithm change (they decrease by 30% according to ahrefs), I think its a bad example of a good EAT

        • I haven’t analyzed the full domain. They certainly could have many articles written by non-authoritative people or other issues. But the author bio for Alison Doyle is still a good example of what I like to see for E-A-T in an author bio.

  13. i have site about “nose surgery” in iran and persian lanquage

    i learn many tip from you and guide line content google

    you work for increase EAT persian lanquage site ?

    • Is your content written by doctors who have real life medical experience on this topic? If not doctors, perhaps nurses or other people who have real life experience in this area? If so, then you can increase E-A-T by doing the following:

      -make sure all posts are authored by someone with medical E-A-T
      -link to an author bio that extols all of their E-A-T
      -build up their profiles. For example, make sure the physician has a LinkedIn Bio to tout their achievements
      -help them get published in authoritative places
      -find ways to get people legitimately talking about your business

      If that seems hard, it’s because it is. Think of it from the perspective of someone who is considering a nasal surgery. Would I want to read an article written by a good SEO, or an article written by someone who does this stuff every day?

  14. Thank you Marie, That was really helpful, I never worked with this niche before, but now am ready for the challenge if ever I was put on likely projects!

  15. This is absolute awesome.
    I have some tech websites which got affected, what could be the possible reasons ??

    They already had the author bio, about page and we are not selling anything using those ??

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Are your authors known as the top experts in their field? It’s one thing to have an author bio, but the bio is just a tiny portion of the picture when it comes to E-A-T. What Google wants to see is that your site’s content is written by people that truly are the most authoritative to write on those topics.

      • I haven’t displayed the author bio in any of them.

        I have just added a small portion about our authors in about us page.

        Does that make sense to you ??

        Or should I start displaying author box on every blog post ??

  16. Excellent analysis, I’ve just updated the ‘about’ page on my personal blog. I will recommend that we use author tags and links on the company/day-job website too. My site has taken a bit of a nose-dive in rankings since March, I’m thinking this EAT stuff might have been why.

  17. I am very curious abut this update and the march one in the spanish language sector. I’ve seen drops and gains that not correspond with what the algorythm should do, let me explain:

    I saw in march-april websites with mediocre quality content above websites with really good content.
    And i am seeing this again right now… and it’s mixed: websites with good reputation (newspapers magazines) with mediocre content ranking better than smallers websites with great content (i think this is unfair) BUT also the opposite: small websites with average content ranking better than websites with good content…
    Maybe i am missing something or maybe i am mixing the things a little.
    But that is what i an seeing in the spanish search engine world for differents topics.

  18. Awesome explanation, thanks Marie.

    I’ve suffered big hits, and I think this could be an EAT issue.

    My question is, if I was to try and improve things, would any SERPs increases be purely down to algorithmic factors, or is EAT in anyway subject to manual review?

    I guess what I’m saying is that if I was a black-hat, I could quite easily knock up a fake doctor profile with LinkedIn history, edu links etc and then say this guy was my ‘expert’.

    The reason I’m asking is because one of my competitors recently added a load of author profiles, and so-called ‘experts’ to their about page, but to anyone in my niche (wellness), it’s easy to see that they’re not experts at all, just general content writers. Interestingly, I just checked SEMRush and they’ve received a 30% boost after Aug 1st… Basically they faked it, but faked it well.

    • I really wish we could learn more about how Google determines E-A-T. It certainly is algorithmic, but we don’t know how they do it. All that we know is how they instruct the Quality Raters’ to manually look for E-A-T.

      I think that it would be hard to truly fake E-A-T. Sure, you could create a fake doctor and create a fake LinkedIn profile for them, but I think it would be really easy to figure out that this doctor has no history of ever graduating, being quoted in authoritative places, etc. You could have them reply to HARO requests and get quoted as doctors, but the truly authoritative news sites that really matter in terms of E-A-T are going to check out their sources. You can’t say, “Hey, this person is the leading expert on diabetes!” and expect them to believe you when there is no evidence to support that.

      Who knows, it’s possible that E-A-T can be faked. But if it can, you can be sure that the Google engineers are working on ways to make it so that that type of spam doesn’t work for long.

      • Although I’m might be biased (and aggrieved at my ranking hits) I think that in 10 years of doing SEO/publishing this is the first big regressive step I’ve seen from Google.

        My reasoning?

        I AM an actual expert in my niche.

        I’ve been interviewed on TV, radio, consulted in scientific research. I’ve conducted QAs and podcasts with countless CEOs, business leaders, public health advocates. Written 4000 word cornerstone content pieces. Plus, just about every thought leader in my niche including scientists, NY Times best selling authors etc etc are either followers or subscribers.

        Problem is…….. I don’t shout about this from the rooftops.

        I’m a Brit, so being naturally self-effacing, I let my content speak for itself. And it has ranked amazingly well over the years because everyone, including Google has recognised that it’s high quality.

        Now, it seems, this is no longer good enough.

        Because if my penalties are EAT/YMYL related, then the only way I can fix this is to revisit my content and (sorry to be crude) conduct multiple sitewide circle-jerks, boasting about all of my achievements…

        Sorry, but this to me doesn’t sit well.

        What it seems like is an extremely crude attempt to weed out thin sites/content by applying quite dumb rules (author boxes, about pages).

        As I mentioned earlier, one of my competitors has hired about 20 writers and admin staff, plus one ‘doctor(in an unrelated medical field) in the past year. On the page his ‘team’ looks super impressive, and Google seems to think the same.

        But as a genuine thought-leader in this field, and because I know who all the real experts in my niche are (they all follow me on social media), it’s extremely easy for me to see that their ‘expertise’ is a wafer-thin veneer ie they’re just writers and one paid adviser.

        Come on Google.

        You’re smarter than this.

        Plus, you’re giving leverage to a lot of people who could start spamming the SERPs and actually reducing the quality of user searches, not improving it.

  19. For the example of Keto Diet

    Does it not the domain’s authority which played key role when you mean E-A-T, is this A almost similar to domain’s authority? because i can see now only 50+ DA site for the keyword in top results

    Ketodash.com has an authority of 29 (which is low compared to others)

    • As far as I understand it, DA is based almost entirely on link equity. It’s Moz’s attempt to recreate PageRank. However, this is just one component of the algorithm, and in my opinion, it has changed dramatically. It makes sense that a lot of high DA sites are ranking well. But, you don’t have to have high DA to rank well IMO.

  20. Hey Marie,

    Thanks for sharing your insights into this. I’m the owner of Keto Dash and I’ll say I was always surprised that I ranked first for “Keto Diet”. Honestly, the site itself hasn’t been updated with new content in months and pretty sure links stopped pouring in around the same time.

    I was always the underdog going against these health goliaths so I wasn’t surprised by this drop even though those charts make the drop seem way more dramatic than it really is. I’m still on page 1 for most of my heavy keywords, I haven’t checked the smaller ones.

    Back to the grind I go.

    • I love your attitude! My apologies for specifically calling you out. At least you got a link out of it, right? 🙂

      Let’s hope things look up soon.

  21. Hi Marie,

    Do you have tips on improving external reputation? A client of mine has a site that is almost 2 years old. They have some good mentions on techcrunch and refinery29 and other smaller sites, but one of the most prominent sites that pops up for them is a discussion on reddit where people slam what they do. They’ve addressed on their site the items that people in this reddit discussion talk about, but the discussion is archived, so no new comments can be made. I’m sure the T in E-A-T doesn’t come down to one source, but do you have any thoughts on improving that external trust factor? Thanks!

    • It sounds like you’ve got some good things going already.

      One frustrating thing is that we don’t know exactly how Google measures reputation externally. So, here are some of the things we do:

      -Look at competitors. Where are they getting reviews and authoritative mentions? Can you get them there too?
      -Who are the authoritative sites in your niche? Are there ways you can get mentions there?
      -Monitor reviews. If there is a bad review, do everything you can to respond and make it clear that the problem will be rectified.

      I do believe that Google looks at a great many sources. They’re trying to figure out if on the whole people like your business or whether there is a reputation problem. I’m not worried about the odd negative review (although I must admit that the new wording in the QRG stating that even a slightly mildly negative reputation is worrisome.

  22. One major page that’s responsible for about 50% of my blog’s traffic was dropped about 6 pages behind on Google rankings. It used to rank 1/2 for various variations of this keywords. It’s an health/fitness blog.

    I’m hurt really.

    • Health and fitness seem to really have taken a big E-A-T hit. If you’re not known as an authority in your space, recovery could be a challenge.

  23. Thank you Marie!! this is the best article I have seen covering the new Algorithm change.

  24. Hi Marie,
    What could be a good example of E.A.T for an affiliate site or technology site?
    Do you think that Google check also E.A.T when we are not in medical niche?
    Thanks for your answers
    Lin

    • E-A-T is important for any site that helps people make important life decisions. We know that medical, financial and legal sites are considered YMYL. But the QRG also say that sites like an adoption site is considered YMYL. Also, all eCommerce sites are. Even in a hobby site, Google is looking for expertise. For example, if I decided to create a site about playing the tuba, I’m not likely to rank as highly as someone who has been a professional tuba player for years.

      Here’s an example of a tech site displaying E-A-T – may not be the perfect example, but you’ll see what I mean:

      https://www.cnet.com/profiles/katieecollins/

      They explain her experience, how many years she has been doing this, and where she has been published. The idea is to have writers who are extremely authoritative on their topics.

  25. Amazing near real-time analysis. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Very nice explanation! We have experienced huge changes. We have gained a lot in long tai, but lost rankings on the short popular keywords.

  27. I run the lending authority site on Hcg Medical Weight Los. I was the first in the industry and have had mentions in major publications. Over the years, our niche has become clouded with individuals promoting overseas counterfeit pharma, and fake & shady variations of the diet- completely devastating the reputation of what was created by a leading, award winning endocrinologist. The protocol, the REAL one, is 100% legit, but it has been tarred by money making schemers and its frustrating.

    But… not as frustrating as it is to see Google suddenly move the shadiest of them all to the#1 spots! Seriously, these are pages with no content and just pharmaceutical kit pics and links. They buy links in chunks which are incredibly obvious – I’m forever stunned google doesn’t catch on to this! & they are selling counterfeit products! I’m slowly losing faith in google over here- I see the very few legitimate authorities in this niche down in ranks and it’s just baffling.

  28. Hi Marie,

    I mostly agree with your observations. However, I have a strong suspicion that the updated algorithm also simply gives more weight to incoming links to determine ‘authority’ in these niches.
    The correlation between DA and ranking seems way higher than before.
    E.g: sites with a low DA that actually answer specific longtail queries now rank lower than high DA sites that only mention the keywords in passing.

    My site, and those of other smaller bloggers in the health/fitness/nutrition niche that I monitor clearly have the ‘E’ and the ‘T’ present, but still lost rankings. Just the ‘A’ is missing, and I feel it’s mostly just measured in the number/strength of incoming links.

    • It’s certainly possible that links are a component. If this is an E-A-T update, then Google may have re-evaluated which sites they use for trusted seed sites and they could be putting less emphasis on certain links. However, if this was the case I think we’d see a big change in many other niches as well. I really don’t think this is a link update, but I could be wrong.

  29. Let me frame this with … I am not a conspiracy person, my reaction is always I would like to see the facts. I am looking for them now on this last update and found your site. BTY … good article with some good insights … I would just like to add that if what you are showing and saying is true … taken out to it’s ultimate logical conclusion “there are only 10 organic spots” probably really 3 on mobiles below all those ads and other stuff google puts in there that the average person will ever possibly look at and click on … so all the “outliers” on any subject, all new challenges to existing practices, knowledge, methods, products, independent parties, movements can only come through the establishment … the current medical, social, political powers that be …. because in real life only they have the money to pay for all that writing authority which may even be absolutely wrong in their science and facts … or worse yet being paid to propagate a industry message to keep selling the status quo … the purpose of the web ( and I was there when it began ) was to give a level playing field so the little guy, business, idea, group a voice and chance to change the world … google will take this away in a very short time ( in search ) after all industries go under the knife. All the top stuff will vanilla out to “acceptable message and sources”. The ultimate big brother censorship on the web. If it goes that way we need a new web and new search platform.

    • Max, thank you, I completely agree. It’s pains to see that Google is turning itself into an FDA-approved encyclopedia, that’s not why people with a condition use it for, they already heard the official version from their doctors.

  30. Great article, Marie!

    I was a rater a few years back, right about the time they rolled out E-A-T. To this day, I still look for About pages and Contact information on sites.

    They made a huge deal out of what they called the ‘everyday expert’ and how E-A-T applied to their sites.

    The analogy was this:

    WebMD has huge medical E-A-T and is trustworthy regarding cancer etc and deserves it’s page 1 ranking. They are an expert on medical issues.

    Jill, who has/had cancer, has a blog documenting her journey but cannot ever hope to rank on Page 1 because she is not an expert like WebMD.

    Enter the Everyday Expert. While WebMD is a medical expert, Jill is also an expert – on HER cancer and her story about it. As such, Jill is just as deserving of a higher ranking.

    Are you seeing that Google is abandoning this approach?

    • Great observations! Personal experience is still discussed in the QRG. There are examples of “high quality content” that are from forums. One example is a Cancer survivor forum where the participants have good personal experience but are not doctors.

  31. How can Google know whether a person has qualifications? I doubt its possible for a crawler on a site to that reliable even if they have that written on their site. Never mind connecting their linked in profile and crawling that too. Plus it can be faked. Plus its a perfect recipe for devaluing somebody because of a mistake of their crawler.

    I know they are doing manual ratings but apparently, that’s just to make sure SERPS is working. Rather than affecting a score that that contributes to the algo. Just asking. Would be weird to me because that kinda can be faked quite easily. You can make up you was employed by a big pharma company for example.

    The concern for me is this all seems to be against what they have said about user intent fulfilling. Almost like they are favouring the big corps. Even if the little normal people are actually offering more value to the searcher.

    • Google has a large number of resources. I’ve had clients try to fake E-A-T (against my advice) and so far this hasn’t seemed to have worked.

      I hear what you’re saying about Google favoring big brands. However, this often reflects what people want to see. If I’m going to buy a clock, I’m likely to buy it from Amazon rather than best-clocks-on-the-internet.com or some other site I’ve never heard of.

      • Thanks for such an awesome post, I agree with you on all points, definitely seen the same. However you could say that about almost every single product out there, so does that mean only big corporations win? the little guys that make clocks make just enough to get by, etc are all getting demoted in favour of amazons etc i personally dont think its right

        • It’s certainly still possible to beat Amazon in many verticals, but only if you’re a store that people truly want to buy from.

  32. Thank you for this article. My sites traffic has taken a huge hit since August 1st. I am definitely a YMYL site- I am an infertility blogger who writes about how I got pregnant naturally twice after the doctors said I would need donor eggs. I never claim to be an expert about anything other than ME and what worked for ME. That is my blog- what I did and why. I am careful to not make claims about other people. I write all my own content. I don’t sell anything (Okay, there was one 3.99 Thanksgiving Recipe book that sold 30 copies). I had really incredible organic traffic until August 1st. I’m so sad 🙁 I’m still confused where the hits are coming from, I’m still ranking in the top three results for a number of posts, but traffic is crazy down. I’ve gone from 3K sessions a day to 2K sessions a day. I’m not an SEO expert and never did keyword work- I just wrote content and it all just happened naturally. I’m totally devastated. I guess I’ll have to start doing all the SEO work. I’m not having doctors write for me, but I guess I can bulk up my About page. Its mostly mushy now. Thank you so much for explaining why this happened to me!

    • I have a few thoughts. However, keep in mind that our full review takes us a couple of weeks of investigation to complete. Your home page slider took AGES to load for me. There is almost no content available to the reader without scrolling down on the home page. Also, it’s not clear what the purpose of your site is at first glance. Improving that may help somewhat.

      I’d also have a really close look to see whether you’re offering advice that goes against common scientific thinking. I know that this is tough as not all “science” is correct, but this could be an issue.

      I do think that there is great merit in personal experiences. But, I also think that many people who are trying to conceive want to read articles written by a medical professional. The algo probably reflects a balance of this.

      I wish I could give you more concrete advice…looks like more investigation is warranted.

  33. After working with a site that has ranked well for many years for 100’s of industry related words and terms, meets all the fast load, mobile first, ssl, never any issues in webmaster tools, good content ( google has thought so for years) and on and on but dropped 75% traffic in 1 day … researching everywhere I could for what may be going on too … I noticed this algo update could possibly come to be explained in simple terms like this … for most of the past 14 years it’s been “keywords, content, authority” NOW google flipped it and it’s “authority, content, keywords” … What do you think?

  34. Thanks for your analysis, this helps a lot. We will improve our sites regarding E-A-T. Just a short note: It’s not just the YMYL sector. Our branch (video game magazines) also showed these fluctuations. Worst of all: It affected the visibility in the news box – suddenly more authority than freshness. First three days of the Update Google preferred news (AMP as well) by “authorities” older than 20 hours and ignored newer articles. (weird: mostly mainstream news sites and not the specialized gaming sites. This means: authority is defined by the sheer number of links.)

  35. Very helpful. We have a meds site that just got blasted, lost more than half of rankings even though we are a legitimate pharmacy.

    We’re going to go big on the E-A-T, stick doctor profiles on every page and really try to boost that aspect of the site.

  36. I write health websites (I was a physiotherapist for over 10 years) and have seen a 60% drop in traffic across all of my sites. Not sure how I am supposed to compete with the big guys like webmd and nhs if it’s all about EAT – I’m just one person!

    My pages each focus on a specific keyword so visitors get the specific info they are looking for rather than general info from the bigger sites. I’m feeling very disheartened 🙁

    • I’m sorry to hear that this is happening to you. I think that when it comes to sites discussing specific medical conditions, personal experience is an asset but Google’s algorithms are definitely preferring large medical sites now.

  37. We r doing marketing in medical niches for many clients and i c 75% of them was affected. We ll try to add dome T.

  38. Hello ! I like your article and if i understand corectly i should get an about page that is backed up by external trust sites that google give credit to … which in the end will be facked by a lot of people.

    I mean eventually by testing things out we should see what sites google trust more.Now assuming that the sites weren’t penalised in this update and just outrank by others with more authority ( in google eyes) there is a chance to recover….after all google is a computer.

    Now regarding google updates i kinda like them because it filter out the competition, and until others catch up it’s create a window of opportunity…

    I always like to check the results after an google update for “ buy vi@gr@ 0nline” The sites are in health niche and they have a lot of e-a-t 🙂

    Im sure a lot of ppl in your niche started already to test the waters…

    Anyway like an old friend use to told me… adapt or die…

    • Thanks for your comment. I wanted to emphasize again that while I recommend doing all you can to beef up your About page, this will only be effective if you truly have good E-A-T.

  39. Amazing analysis! Been reading updates on it sine the 1st of August.
    Quick questions, what tools do you use to check what pages are ranking for each terms?

    Jo

    • We use SEMRush a lot. We also do a lot of spot checking on rankings for terms where locality and personalization are not likely a factor.

  40. Marie, can’t thank you enough for this information. I keep updating throughout the day for latest edits and comments.

    I’m an herbal health site down 75%. Interestingly I thought I was okay but then got nailed on August 3 and I know someone else who got hit on the 5th.

    I’m thinking that a “how your YMYL site can recover from August 1 Google update” post would be pure gold. Any chance of that?

    • Once we’ve recovered some sites, I’ll likely write that. 🙂 For now, it’s speculation and the advice in this post is the best I can do.

      Honestly though, I think that with this update, recovery could be challenging unless you can truly prove yourself as a trustworthy authority.

  41. Thanks very much for this article, this Google Update seems to target the diet and health niches indeed.

    So if i understand, the 2 common points of the sites which rise or profit from this update are those having an identified author in the articles and the customers opinions, it is that?

    • These are things that contribute to E-A-T (as outlined in the QRG). But, these alone will not make your site an authority.

  42. Nice Study, Marie your observations are very strong but if it is E-A-T update why other than medical websites lose traffic the one in technologies and finance niches?

    • I think this update has multiple components. There are non YMYL sites that are seeing changes too. There also seems to be a local component.

      With that said, I’d argue that technology and finance sites are all mostly YMYL as well.

      • It means that everything is YMYL if that got hit?

        • Not necessarily, no. This seems to have hit hard in the medical/nutrition space. While I have heard of financial sites being hit, it’s not nearly as common.

      • My theory is same … When I see yellow, it always mango for me …..

  43. Marie, you’ve said multiple times that recovery could be very difficult. I’m down 75% and while my content is high-quality (subjective I know), right now I’d have a hard time proving EAT. In your opinion, is there much sense in even trying?

    • This really depends on whether it is possible for you to become an authority. I do think any site that was hit could potentially see great improvements, but it would be hard. Recovery likely goes well beyond what SEO can accomplish. It would mean doing traditional PR to become known as an authority in your space. For medical sites, it may also mean partnering with physicians, etc. which could be costly.

  44. Hi,

    Great article. It was the first time I’ve seen the local address, so thanks for that.

    Just to share…

    We’ve seen several local listings this week issues. All of our clients are single site, small, local businesses

    – website links removed – we put them back and it seems ok.
    – posts removed – we are still looking into this one
    – delistings – we are having issues getting this one client’s local back up.

    Since this all happened since the 1st, we’re figuring it may be tied to the update.

  45. Hey Marie,

    Thanks for sharing this awesome post! I appreciate your hard work. I wanted to share my story for others (I’ve found the other comments here helpful).

    I’m in the health niche and noticed about a 40-50% drop in organic traffic but, interesting enough, it seems that the quality of traffic is still quite high. So I’m not really sure what to make of that or if that’s relevant or not. I’m in the “integrative” health area which is fraught with overhyped claims and marketing so I may have been taken down in that way. I strongly believe, though, that the people who want to find my information will still find it.

    I’m also making changes to my about page, updating my author bio and adding a new biography page. I also went through and updated my professional sites such as LinkedIn and doximity.

    I think this update was probably sorely needed but it may have been slightly too broad in scope for some nuanced sites but we shall see! I do get worried about google only showing results such as Healthline, Livestrong and WebMD for health-related queries. These sites are great for general information but lack in the detailed analysis you can get from individuals who are very knowledgeable about certain topics.

    Thanks again!

    -Westin

  46. Thanks for the article!

    Google definitely attacked sites that lack authoritative authors in the medical niche. The quality and relevance of content doesn’t seem to matter as much as authority/backlinks now. I’ve seen some 2-line “articles”, and even a picture of a product with reader comments (on e-commerce sites), outrank some really useful in-depth articles.

    YouTube videos about medical subjects seem to have faired just fine – they can seemingly be put together by anyone and rank for just about anything. You can currently bypass the need for medical credentials due to the authority of YouTube and the demand to videos from searchers. Right now, you’re likely to do better putting together videos and driving traffic to your website that way.

    Overall, Google seems to have sacrificed relevance for authority/trust. As a result, the search engine results from August 1st no longer answer searcher questions as well as they did prior to the update IMO.

  47. The funny thing is our friend DrAxe lost millions in visitors with major blow to their whole team. I can go on and list many other sites but I think this update was mainly after health-related sites that were not owned or operated by the likes of HealthLine/WebMD.

    I guess one of these health websites pissed off a member of Google Search Team!!

    I hope it wasn’t Danny’s!

  48. Great article Marie. You say to boost your trust by boosting about us and bragging etc, what really stops us from outright lying? How would Google know? How can Google verify any of that?

    • The advice that we give to boost up your About page and author pages is to (hopefully) help Google to get as much information about your E-A-T as possible. But, most likely, just beefing up your About page is not enough. Google says that the majority of what they learn on E-A-T comes from off site links and mentions.

  49. I can see that Google is changing its search algorithms to provide the content which is written by qualified specialists for their niches. This is good for users but most of the websites will need to put even more effort to make their sites become authority. Really not that easy.

  50. I did not write any article and i have only address on website but i saw big improvement …. is it EAT?

  51. no positive and negative review… no product but common services which other also selling.

  52. Nowdays Google pay awesome money to seo’s…. you better know

  53. if a search engine start to depend on only facts then it will be garbage of facts and you will never find new content…Or it will be impossible to create new….

  54. Hi Marie.
    What a great article.
    This was just what i was looking for to better understand the latest update.
    Its the first time im visiting your blog, buti guess it wont be the last time.
    Best regards.

  55. I work on both manufacturers websites and also direct-sale ecommerce websites. The manufacturer sites seem to have benefited for the more vague short keywords. Some of the SERP results are top heavy with manufacturers rather than suppliers whereas it was the other way around before. This may well be down to E-A-T . These are not just medical items/terms.

  56. We are seeing some ecommerce sites affected through changes in average keyword ranking position and are therefore having to increase paid advertising to pick up the slack in organic ranking drops.

  57. I’m wondering if anyone else is seeing a slight return to normalcy yesterday and today? Slight uptick in Google organic and it was on pages I previously ranked well for.

  58. hi Marie,
    Finally a blog post which gave me some insights I was looking for.

    A very good friend of mine is an Italian super specialist (many degrees, 30+ y work experience, works in public hospitals, has his own private medical offices etc) is one of the pioneers in medical blogging, and was used to something like 8000 users (in Italy this is huge, guys) every day.

    After the Google update, traffic dropped by 85% avg, and he asked me “what happened? Can you have a look if my webmaster and SEO has done something not properly?”

    I’ve been analyzing his website data (GSC, GA, plus SERP rankings using SEO PowerSuite tools) since 3 days ago, and couldn’t actually see anything but:
    – traffic drop
    – bounce rate dropped from 95% till 85%
    – avg time on page from 9” only to 1′ and 40”

    I couldn’t figure out why the bounce rate would be so low, too but I’ve realised his site is quite old fashioned in terms of UI and UX, plus it provides everything users needs or want at the 1st page, so there is no reasons for them to keep on browsing probably.

    That being said, my question for you (if you could be so kind) is: how can I help him to let Google’s AI know he is basically one of the best doctors in the whole region, here (and therefore his info is super accurate, valuable and won’t harm anyone reading it)?

    Of course, the big issue I see here is that he has no Linkedin profile, never published anything on other sites, not sure he got that many mentions from external.

    The real thing is: he’s been publishing amazing contents online for 4 years, and now he lost nearly the 90% of the traffic to the site.

    thanks a lot for your input, and for sharing such valuable info
    Marco

    • While I can’t say for certain how Google assesses individual E-A-T, they have said before that it is largely based on off-site links and mentions. For a doctor to improve their E-A-T, I’d recommend the following:

      -Build out a LinkedIn Profile
      -Look for industry directories / lists to be added to
      -Find authoritative places for them to get published in

      If he’s truly known as one of the best doctors in the region, then there must be some external evidence. Has he won awards? Has he had press? If so, include those on his about page.

      • thank you so much for your kind reply first of all, I didn’t get any email notification so that’s why I’m replying later than expected 🙂

        Marie, you know what happened also?

        I’m curious to know your opinion – and if you have some sort of the same experience from the other medical sites you monitor.

        Basically we could say that traffic dropped heavily, but what is “left” has brought the avg. time on page from 10” to 1′ and 20”!

        Plus, bounce rate from 97% avg to 80%.

        how can this possibly be?!

        I thought about it and realised that maybe that was due to a not so nice mobile experience (old fashioned site, although responsive), but I can’t figure out what could have made that change.

        why is the traffic left now bringing people who stay more?

        Weird uh?

        any thoughts? I’d really appreciate your input, Marie.

        thank you
        Marco

  59. We sell products for elderly and people with a disability. For many years right now. Always good rankings, unique content, good reviews, good code, etc. etc.

    Now with this new update, we lost rankings everywhere. It’s insane. Cheap sites are now ranking higher than ours. And they don’t show any signs of E-A-T.

    Really don’t know what to do at this point. Sales have stopped competely. You don’t need an university degree for selling these type of products, so what to do?

    • It’s hard to say without taking a deep look, but I’d look at things like comparing reviews for your products vs your competitors’. Also, look for potential trust issues. Are you selling any products that are potentially controversial? One of the repeated things we have seen is that diet sites that are selling a product that is a little bit sketchy often took a big hit. Not saying that’s necessarily the issue for you, but it could be.

      Let me know if you’d like my team and I to review your site and investigate for this type of thing.

  60. Hi there,

    What about ecommerce websites?

    I see everybody is talking about medical stuff and so on, but what about the big changes in serps on ecommerce?

    I am from Romania and the serps here changed dramatically. What’s the news on ecommerce changes this Google broad core update caused?

    Thank you,

    • It’s definitely not just medical sites that were hit. I’d be looking at product E-A-T as outlined in the Quality Raters Guidelines.

  61. Hi Marie,

    Thanks for putting this together as quickly as you did it made things a bit easier to corral as this started Aug 1. I reference two comments that I thought were most insightful with my insights here:

    https://www.brianchappell.com/google-medic-update-august-1st-traffic-stats-updated/

    I hope others might find it useful.

    Cheers,

    Brian Chappell

  62. You think that websites with 20% drop in traffic could recover in 1-2 weeks after the update finish rolling out, without any changes?

    • That’s almost impossible to say. We don’t know whether Google will be tweaking this algo update or at this point, what it takes to recover.

  63. Marie, thank you for the great article. We produce the leading (we think it) german online caculators for tax, financial and health issues. We were hit very hard by 40%. We agree with your therory of missing EAT because our layout is old school and we do not present ourself as authority, expert nor do we have adequate About pages. Now one question: we could ask our customers (banks, insurance companys, goverment, ..) to write some review on thier website. How woul you do it? Should they mention our company (or team) as authority, our url or should it be a single person as expert? Thank you!!

    • This sounds like a good plan. We really don’t know how Google measures E-A-T algorithmically, but Gary Illyes has mentioned that it is largely based on off site links and mentions. I think that if you can get companies that you work with to write something on their site that would be amazing! If that won’t work, then a testimonial on your site might work. Ideally, if you can get more press and get people truly talking about your brand, off of your site, that would be good.

  64. Hi Marie,

    I was constantly checking your blog for the last week, waiting on a preliminary analysis of this update. And it’s finally here, thanks for that.
    It seems almost everybody is talking about the medical niche, but there are certainly other affected areas, like the hospitality/room booking niche we are in.
    We saw a mild decrease around March, but with this update we are up by 55% (compared to last year’s data, as the seasonal effect is quite high). The strange thing: we really did not change anything this year, just kept a steady pace of content creation on our blog and fb as well.

  65. So in order to come up on top with the next Google update, all you have to do is to post fake negative reviews of your competitors on various “customer reviews” sites (which don’t really check if you were a customer or not).

    Why bother spending 3 days writing a 3000-word authoritative article when you can spend a few hours creating bogus accounts on several “customer reviews” websites and posting 0-star “reviews” of your competitor.

    Negative SEO attack 2.0 is here. That is called algo improvement?

  66. Hi Marie,

    Great article. Thank you. You are a beacon of light it seems in an increasingly hostile internet world, fast becoming a privileged space with two core agendas in mind – censorship and making money.

    Our traffic has more than halved since 1 August (plummeted straight down). In fact, overall, we have gone from over 9,000 visits daily to just above 2,000 in the space of three months, with the most savage drop since 1 August.

    We have been online for seven years, have an excellent reputation and have been recognised in many ways. Also, many of our articles are on the front page of Google. We have excellent reviews and comments on our site. In fact, EVERYTHING on our site points to it having a high level of credibility and trust and authority. We also have a very low bounce rate proving that people like what they see when they visit the site.

    Our mission is help people achieve greater self-empowerment through gardening – sustainability and benefits on physical and emotional health.

    It is of course becoming anathema to the corporatocracy the world is becoming that people should look to nature and creation for anything beneficial. This is decried, and we are increasingly being taught that only things that are synthetic and produced by the various industrial complexes are of any value. In fact, it has become SO bad that we are being taught that if it comes from nature it is likely to be unsafe.

    The agenda behind this of course is to expand the profits of Big Pharma and the Tech Giants. What is happening is nothing other than mass censorship. It is fast becoming the “world according to Google and Facebook” – and that is NOT the world we want to see or live in.

    Our welfare cannot be determined by the tech giants or their algorithms. It is morally indefensible to deter people from finding the information they want on the things that are beneficial to them and in the process destroy people’s businesses overnight – people who have sacrificed their lives to bring such information to people through their tireless work.

    Therefore, we believe that in view of the high regard that people have for our site, our traffic is being savagely throttled – not because the User Experience for our visitors is deemed deficient in some way, but because our content is viewed FAVORABLY. In other words, proof of clear censorship of a site that is merely teaching people how to grow and benefit from healthy nutritious food.

    Censorship such as this is simply the thin end of the wedge – it will never end. Which of course is what they want – until ALL content is completely sanitised and only the fully monetized content of corporations including the corporate media will be made available. And one thing is for sure such a world will NOT be one that will be supportive of the rights or well being of the citizens of this planet.

    I will write to you separately.

    Thank you.

    • I understand your frustrations. Every time Google changes their algorithm, there are many sites that suffer. I know this is not what you want to hear, but I do believe that for the most part, Google is working to make people’s searches more relevant. I’m not sure that I agree that this is censorship.

      • Thanks Marie. We really can only understand the the forces that are affecting us if we understand the world around us. The evidence of the mass censorship that is taking place is overwhelming. In fact it is going into overdrive. It is occurring under the guise of “relevance” in Google’case. Our site is the proof of this. EVERYTHING to do with out site establishes it as highly relevant. And its relevance is become greater and greater as more and more people seek out natural sustainable alternatives to the synthetic and unsustainable road they are being pushed down. We are probably one of the most popular gardening sites in the world. Not relevant? Hardly.

  67. Hi Marie

    Thanks for the insight on this update. My site is in the diet niche as an affiliate for a weight loss supplement. I was moving up the ranks nicely till this update happened.

    From what I can see on page 1 the majority of the sites that are selling the same product as me aren’t showing any EAT. Their content is lacking and every article has an affiliate link.

    For my site, the only affiliate link i have is on my product review page while the rest of my other articles focus on healthy living and related health areas.

    Not sure why this is happening.

    • I’d be taking a close look at external E-A-T. Are other authoritative sites talking about you and your business?

      • Marie,

        In our case tons and tons of other authority, sites talked about us and the content we put out always stand out from the rest.

        I am still puzzled but given I do not own or operate Google and they make the calls I can’t say much other than blame myself for depending on Google.

  68. Hi Marie,

    Thank you so much for a great article. 🙂

    I have lost 22% of my traffic after this August update after having gradually lost 2/3 of my traffic between May and October/November last year. I have done a ton of work and things began to ‘sort of’ stabilise, until now.

    I have taken a good look at what’s happened in GWT. I have clearly lost a huge number of keywords which affected many of my pages. Yet the position of about 2/3 of my pages has slightly increased, with one page dropped completely on account of the loss of specific keywords. The article subject was not any different than what I would normally cover. Checking out the SERPS I see at least 3 Youtube results and some really odd results.

    Elly

  69. So, Marie, do you think, the main problem is article? Or anything else? Can you please reply it few more clearly? Thanks anyway.

  70. Hi. My site was also affected (health, beauty, fitness theme), loosing about 50% of traffic, due to main keywords dropping from #1 to let’s say #6 (on average).
    I do not see this update as a penalty for my site, otherwise I would probably be wiped off radar. Up until 1st of August every update actually boosted my site in rankings so this is a first for me.

    But the thing that intrigues me is the following.
    I get all this “EAT” thing and I generally approve it (in theory, at least – we all know everything can be faked), but I would then suppose that the whole site would be affected, not just a few of keywords? It seems that only profitable keywords were targeted and their long-tail versions were not.
    An example of mine – a “3 words” keyword took a hit, it’s “5 words” version did not took a hit. So how come if I am supposedly a low authority I can still rank for a second variant of the keyword? Surely an ill advice on 3 words variant or 5 words variant would do the same damage, so why not derank whole domain? I do realize that 5 word keyword has less search volume (and potentially less people would be affected by ill advice), but it would still affect those particular people.
    I am not a snake-oil seller and my site has well researched articles and I would never give ill advice or sell miracle-cures on my site, since my morals won’t allow it, therefore I consider myself credible. Apparently google things otherwise for the profitable keywords that I ranked high up until August.
    What intrigues me even more is that I still outrank healthline or webmb for those keywords, it’s just that new sites have now outranked my position and pushed all of us down. Usually it’s some private clinics offering content on same keywords than my articles. To me it seems that it is now important to have about us, contact info, address, and reviews from customers as I have observed this on all sites that overtook me.
    If google will now only prefer mega-sites when it comes to health (or beauty, fitness etc) then we are effectively return to DMOZ times, where only the top sites were displayed. So what choice does that leave to a small person? And if this EAT thing is manually refreshed then we are going to 1999 again.
    What are your thoughts on my rankings being taken by new sites, yet I am still outranking webmd or healthline on majority of keywords?

    Thank you.

  71. can you help me? yesterday rank drop 20%
    https://www.portalultautv.com/
    can anybody tell me why? nothing has change

    • The first question to ask yourself is, “Is there a compelling reason for Google to want to show my site first rather than the originators of these videos?”

      • i post every day at least 5-10 new posts with min 200 unique words.
        the other on my niche have 50words 1 category and no search on website and they rank 1.

        other people buy links and posts 1 post per day and i work at least 4 hours every day, and my traffic drops? how this is fair?

        why other website of my niche still are up?

        • Are you known as the leader in your field? Would people recognize your site as an authoritative brand? If not, this is a place to start.

  72. Hey Marie,

    this post cleared up a lot for me. 95% of my sites (or my clients) got an increase, but 2 were all over the place and I had no idea why. What niche? Supplements/superfood.. hooray.

    Ok it didn’t help that one started to have serious hosting issues on the 1.8. and the other had some onpage issues not yet fixed, so I will see how fixing all that will resolve the mess. But the EAT part can really be a factor cause they are both just ecomms :/

    You deffo got a new reader and follower 😉 Thank you.

    Sincerely, Igor B.

  73. I SEOing for some health websites and introducing functional food information. My website does not sell but has links to the sales page. Most of my websites are down from 20 – 50% traffic during this update. My website is but big brand. But our content writing team is not a doctor or department involved in health. Surely they are copywriters for SEO. And before we post the content we have also consulted in the medical language of our doctors department. How can we confirm authoritative rights to such content? What can I do?

  74. Great article, thanks for your help and breaking this down for us. I own a health/bio-hacking related site, and basically the future for this niche looks grim. My traffic was smashed down to 35% of it’s previous numbers.

    Can you see anyway that a site can be successful when it’s inherently based on the idea of the “little guy doing experiments” and maybe sharing what works and making some cash on the side as an affiliate, etc? Or is this now a dead model? (at least in terms of search traffic/rankings success)

    Also, yes would love to hear your reasoning behind why one of the biggest health sites on the net Draxe.com lost half of his millions of pageviews per month? Despite having great EAT it would seem??

    Thanks Marie,

    Nick

    • I haven’t investigated the Dr. Axe site, but I’d be wondering about the aspect of trust. I’d be looking at whether there are claims on the site that are perhaps not backed by scientific consensus. I’d also be looking at product reviews to see if there are issues of trust there as well.

  75. What about health insurance comparison websites?

  76. Amazing post Marie.

    Very interesting, i like the E*A*T concept.

  77. Unbelievably stupid on Google’s part, but fits right in line with the nanny mentality of progressive tech institutions.

    Funny that they would hit health sites hard for “not having credentials” and “not matching the consensus” when the people with the credentials and the consensus have been completely ruining people since the 1970s when it comes to nutrition and general health advice.

    This is the internet – it’s supposed to be a place where the best arguments win. Not a giant illogical appeal to “official authority.”

    Sad that progressives can’t keep it in their pants when it comes to protecting everyone from themselves.

  78. Thanks brilliant article! Best source so far on this. I am located in Germany in the health sector and have seen this happening to three sites I was/am involved in. They all lost heavily (>45% traffic), one is about a sensitive topic whereas the two others have a more “profane” topic. But all three have very little/or even lack E-A-T completely.

    All in all I welcome this update:
    It’s harder for companies who have a financial interest (because they want to sell a product) to get good rankings. And I think unlike updates before it’s very hard to regain those rankings because E-A-T is quite difficult to fake. So for the consumers this update overall means more valuable, trustworthy information and for online marketers an increased need for true high quality content. I also believe that overall (at least for health, finance) this will result in a decreased invest in SEO and a higher invest in SEA and other measures.

  79. I run a diet/health website . I have been an authority since 2014 . in 4 years I wrote only 190 articles myself . Didn’t translate , didn’t hire writers . A single article is long , informative , I cite research , and it takes me a week to finish it .

    I lost 30% of traffic to whom ? Thin farm content websites . That hire house wives and unemployed youth to write about diet and nutrition.

    My website is http://www.egyfitness.com
    What happened is not fair at all , to see 500 word posts written by a freelancer , outrank my 2000-3000 informative post ! That have been #1 for years.

    Anyways , men don’t whine and complain . All I have to do is to write more content , better content , better website . And move to youtube too 🙂

    Good luck everyone.

    • Hi Mohamamd, I’m sorry to hear that your site is not doing well. I really would look at trust issues. I just had a quick look but it looks like the site is heavily geared towards selling products that could potentially be seen as a little scammy. I could be wrong,as it takes us a couple of weeks to finish a site review, but this would be my first concern.

  80. Hey Marine! Thank you for a comprehensive analysis. Though the big sites like WebMD or Healthline are popular places, Google should consider smaller authors irrespective of their SEO prominence. The About Us seems to be a good initiative. Looking at the trends, it seems a dead end for the small players.

  81. Hi Marie.
    That’s the first article I read to you, however, I loved your method of writing and read every word on this page.
    I just want to thank you for this helpful information. I believe it will help me determine why my site dropped in the search, and want to say; congratulation about the 30 lbs you lost.

  82. We personally didn’t notice any drop on our websites or the websites we follow, however, we always make sure to have good content and, at least, of 2000 words length, taking care to update it in the future. Content is always the core of a good SEO strategy.

  83. An excellent article Marie. Did you find that sites that review particular health products were effected? Just wondering if it was just health info about conditions, illnesses, etc.. that was effected or did it effect reviews of health related products as well?

    • There definitely seems to be a decline in many sites that sell health related products, especially those that sell supplements that perhaps go against scientific consensus.

  84. Your inputs seem pretty accurate and in line with what I assumed the issue to be. Although my blog has been hit a bit, even with really good quality content, I realized I never put it out there that I have an expertise in health niche.

    Also, it is good that Googlers will now get to the point and trusted content to read and consume and take action.

    Lovely article, lovely Google update 🙂

    See ya!

  85. I realy loved this article because it’s almost one year and half i’m telling my medical client to put their face on video e write their own content.
    Now i cant tell them, “i told you”. 🙂
    Anyway, this update show the intent to provide always more and more quality content to people how’s looking for medical advice in an hisotrycal moment of poor quality content from makeshift website who’s looking for some adsense o guest post publishing reveniew.

    PS
    sorry for my bad english, i’m neapolitan with not so mutch occasion to practice english.

  86. my site down in July, i don’t know how fix this algo 🙁

  87. I personally think this update should be called the “fake news” update. It’s not just about “thin” content, citations or reviews, but looking a little deeper Google is making it very clear that if your viewpoint is not mainstream then it is likely to be false, sounds a lot like 1984 to me.

  88. I think there is something wrong with Google result we see in Iran when we search keywords related to medical field especially when you search keyword that reflect business name like “orthodontist” (متخصص ارتودنسی), “endocrinologist”(متخصص غدد), “gastroenterologist” (متخصص گوارش),”dentist” (دندانپزشک) and etc.
    Furthermore, SERPSs for keywords that reflect a business service are impacted. For example, Leaving addiction(ترک اعتیاد), herniated disc (دیسک کمر), backpain (کمر درد), colon cancer (سرطان روده), scoliosis (اسکولیوز) and etc.
    I have analyzed the SERPs and reached to the following pattern:
    1- Many of private business sites like sites of doctors, private clinics, private health centers, nutritionists, medical equipment sellers vanished or dropped severely in ranking. We know it as we have saved films from the SERPs before Medic update. We film important SERPS in our company once a week.
    2- There is a specific group of sites that we see in many SERPs. These sites are categorized as the following:
    – Yellow page or Directory sites (especially when you search business name). for example, “payju.ir”, “drdr.ir”,”drsiana”, “daftartelefon.com”, “doctoreto”, “karajtabligh”
    – General magazines that write about everything…For example, “beytote.ir”, “namnak.com”, “irangan.com”, “Persianv.com”,”chetor.com”,”digikala.com”, “bazdeh.org”, “sarpoosh.com”
    – News agency sites.”irna.ir”,”isna.ir”,”mashreghnews.ir”,”jamejamonline.ir”
    – Coupon sites. For example, “takhfifan.com” and “netbarg.com “.
    – Sites of medical state universities
    – Sites of academic medical journals affiliated with state universities
    – Other sites with governmental affiliation.
    – Video sites. For example “apparat.ir”,”tv5.ir”, “tamasha.ir”, “namasha.ir”, “mp4.ir”.
    3- Three, four, five or six results in a row from one single domain specially video sites. It is against Query Deserves Diversity(QDD) . Google can’t comprehend video completely. It shows videos that are uploaded by users on video site only considering title and description of the video not the content.

    As you see many of these categories are heavy update, namely, they update their sites every day with high volume of new or copied content. The site that are not heavy update have kind of affiliation with the government.

    Many SEOs say that this update is about E-A-T and google is trying to implement GRG (Google Raters Guideline). If the result is as what we see now, it is just an attempt. The result is worse. I do not know how Google dares to present such a bad results to users. Today is 13 August. 13 days after the new algorithm has been rolled out. Several days ago, Danny Sullivan confirmed on twitter that the roll out is done.

    The reason why I strongly believe that the result is bad is based on GRG’s E-A-T and user intent. Content that is written by an expert should get better ranking. But, who is the expert. Doctors and clinics are not expert? Many of these sites have author info, about us page, privacy policy page. However, Google has killed them. On the contrary, many of the magazines, yellow pages, news agencies do not have author info. Some of them do not have about us page.

    In relation to user intent, what are the reasons why a user might search “endocrinologist” and what he/she expects Google to show. Before Medic update(1 august update) era, we used to see diversified result that included magazines, associations, doctors, clinics, universities, directories and …. Which one is better? A yellow page site that the owner has subjectively prioritized doctors or a doctor’s site full of content written by an expert prioritized by Google. I feel Google has abandoned its responsibility to rank private businesses. Many of sites are showed are non-private businesses and general and are not categorized under medical and health category. Big percentage of users that search “scoliosis” do not expect to see academic researches. But we see three academic articles in page one for scoliosis (اسکولیوز). I read those researches. They do not answer user question and do not meet patient expectations. What do you expect google when you search “dentist”. Don’t you expect google to rank dentists…Now google shows articles titled “how to become a dentist” , “income of a dentist in Germany” and directories, universities…I know that Query Deserves Diversity. But what google presents now is genocide. I think it must be named “private health business genocide update”. Google responsibility abandonment to rank private health businesses.

    And some very strange results. You see some sites ranked #1 in search results that are good by no means. For example when you search “nutritionist” (متخصص تغذیه), you see drsaeedhosseini.com at page 1. A one-page nutritionist’s site with no content. Unbelievable and shocking. This site has no backlinks. In meta title there is not word “nutritionist”. There are two positive points although. In “about us” section, there is a link to a page of University of Tehran site, introducing his great cv. There are mentions on many pages on the internet that his name is followed by “nutritionist”. With that said, we have many other’s nutritionists that have great experience and expertise and their site have great content and many mentions but are vanished from SERPs.

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Marie Haynes is the founder of HIS Web Marketing, formerly at www.HISWebMarketing.com. In 2015, she rebranded the company to Marie Haynes Consulting Inc.
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