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.
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:
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:
And paying attention to them apparently can work. I really loved this tweet that seemed to be an example of that: https://t.co/iJXBG83cXZ
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) August 1, 2018
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.
Here is the checklist my team and I use when evaluating sites in the eyes of Google's Quality Raters' Guidelines.
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):
And others saw incredible gains:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
When we searched for reviews on the keto dash system, there were none easily found:
3) The site may be advocating a medical treatment that goes against the scientifically agreed upon consensus. Here is what the QRG say:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Again, the QRG say that lack of author E-A-T is a sign of low quality:
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:
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.
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:
2) Home Advisor
3) The Air King
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.
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. And here is a link you can follow if you are interested in following our progress in the Wix SEO competition.
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:
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:
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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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.
Thanks for your email. I’m working through a bunch of them and should be replying later today.
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.
This page ranks #1 for “apple cider vinegar”
Look at how clean the H2’s are with the main keyword on them.
Now look at this page ranking #9:
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.
Doesn’t rank first anymore. The “front hole people” Healthline are now number one…as they seem to be in many other natural health categories. Am I the only one who recognizes this is a fascist (literally…look up the word) crackdown by the evil one? They are clearly working toward abolishing access to any information alternative to the poison, cut, and burn faction of the control system, i.e. allopathic disease management.
I’m going to agree with Marie here.
That does little to explain why it WAS ranking #2 and then suddenly dropped off in August.
Google has been evaluating keyword density and such for ~2 decades. If they made a change to the way they made those evaluations, we would have seen a web-wide shakeup. Not so niche specific.
I agree with that fact that they have the keyword density figured out, but I have several sites that lost rankings that are in the finance niche and guess what, all the H tags were out of order or not written well enough. There’s a huge pattern when you look at sites ranking on page one vs. page two, it becomes very clear that the disorganized fall to page two or worse.
Hy Marie! I noticed that since the last changes in August I had a abnormal number of backlinks deleted. Is there a logical reason for it ?
Can you give more details about how you knew that links were deleted? Deleted by whom?
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.
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
Haha Indeed! Thank you Dr. Raj, I like your rhymes 🙂
Nonsense. Your content is mostly shallow mainstream fluff that promotes the disease management agenda.
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?
Google is very powerful AI. I think they used their billions of data to visually assess.
But one thing I do not understand is that the rankings of many majors have been taken up by the COPY, SPAM results.
What was Google thinking?
Another key is that almost all of Healthline’s content is written by or reviewed by a specific health professional (MD, PhD, RN, etc).
That seems to be true for WebMD as well, which was also super rewarded by this update.
I do they produce a lot of content that follows the same formula of “content spam” but it appears to be more helpful and insightful.
Just because it’s a top 10 list, doesn’t mean it’s garbage. That’s the kind of content people like to consume.
Excellent observations. I agree.
Agreed. Healthline, the site that says we should call a vagina the “front hole,” is clearly getting undeserved love from the system. I would be willing to bet serious money they have an LGBTQ-heavy staff and/or are somehow socially connected to the higher ups at Google. The site is nothing more than mainstream social engineering pablum — which is exactly what the new alogo is selecting for.
I have the same hunch as Vic, above, that just like Zuckerberg is using his ecosystem to delete hundreds of alternative-health pages, some with hundreds of thousands, or millions, of followers, Google seems to think that “MD” means you’re credible.
When in fact there are many bloggers and wellness experts who have DIFFERENT credentials that are not rewarded by the spiders or the reviewers. Healthline, meh. I hang out with hundreds of wellness influencers who do deep research and write great content and many of us were just set back, years, by the algorhithm changes.
I am not wringing my hands, we’ll figure out what the issues are and rectify them, and Marie, this article is one of the most useful ones I’ve read (because you’re actually identifying some of the sites you’re evaluating, and showing specifics…please keep doing that! new subscriber today thanks to your fine content)….
…but I’ve lost 40% of my traffic since Aug. 1. And we get 7 figures in traffic annually. I’m interested in this conversation and reading what everyone has to say.
p.s. Kris, if you’re deep in the health and wellness world, as a career, and have some critical thinking skills regarding the quality of information currently on the Web, you’d know that WebMD is as “bought and paid for” as Healthline is. Many people believe, like those making decision at Google apparently, that everything in standard-of-care medicine are honorable and truth-telling, and everyone else is a quack and a charlatan. Unfortunately, the public is not well served by that assessment.
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.
“their about page says their content is written by doctors, so they’re good to go!” Lol. Loved your answer, I totally agree. In fact, as opposed to the previous commentator, I believe this new update from Google may have something to do with the fact that we’re sort of living in post-truth times, and nowadays its more important than ever to share and publish content responsibly, instead of promoting fake ‘About us’ content.
There’s many obvious ways that a human can tell whether a site is trustworthy or not, so I guess it’s simpler and faster for a computer to analyze the E-A-T from a website this way. I don’t think there’s a way out of this than just focusing on building your brand through E-A-T.
Ps. I’ve been ridiculed a couple times for putting too much emphasis on having a solid and consistent brand. I’m happy the previous efforts will pay off, even if I no longer work for some projects, my work will get rewarded hopefully. 🙂
So now one has to be widely recognized as an expert to be found in the SERPs. What happened to fair competition? What about newcomers who speak from personal experience but who do not have “wide recognition”? These people are being systematically genocided from the information gene pool by the almighty evil one. There is an agenda here, folks. And if you don’t see it you’re bloody blind.
Being an expert and recognized authority is likely just one of many factors. The QRG comment that every niche can have experts that are not formally schooled in the subject, but have real life experience. But, Google’s current algorithms seem to be taking into large consideration whether those “non-schooled” experts are recognized as being good at what they do. For example, if I made a site on keto, I’m not a human physician, so I don’t have schooled E-A-T. But, I have good personal experience. So how could I rank? I believe that if I could get quoted extensively on authoritative posts, referenced in forums, and even social media recognition, then I could start to rank well.
But there are so many other factors as well.
I’ve been up and down like a yo-yo since August 2018. Recovered in March only to be hit in June and then again in July this year. I have 16 years in the area (diet/health), so I know a lot of what I’m talking about.
My competitor has built several websites all with completely fake identities and they use stock photos and pretend it’s them.. and they get links citing them as ‘experts’ from high authority sites. They’re doing incredibly well from these recent core updates.
There are still plenty of people gaming Google and punishing people who are genuine and very knowledgeable in their area.
Sorry to hear that competitors are still getting away with fake stuff. We haven’t seen a lot of that in our investigations, but I don’t doubt that some are still succeeding.
Have you seen the article we published on scientific consensus?
It may help with some of the concerns you raised.
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.
Why would a stronger association with endocrinologists matter to anyone other than the authorities hoping to maintain their control over the information flow? This is fascism. Pure and simple. Look it up.
Totally agree. I had seen the same behaviour.
Cant wait to hear all about your suggestions at our Ottawa workshop this week!
I know! Good timing, right?
Thanks Marie for the great info. Enjoyed reading the article.
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.
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?
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.
Great article, explains a lot. Glad to be on your list 🙂
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.
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?
I wonder what it will do against blogs and forums written by patients for patients? Or they just will disappear from the Web?
And what will happen with medical issues that are controversial, such as treatment of hypothyroidism, where ‘experts’ favor a certain ‘modern’ treatment and completely reject an old-known medical treatment from the 1960s, which really brings the sick back to life again? Often after many decades of suffering.
Modern medicine is so compromised on so many points that even among doctors are groups that fight each other and call each other for quacks. And now comes Google and removes the only patient support that the sick can expect from each other?
Perhaps it’s about time that we find other ways for patient sites to remain on the Web than continue the dependence on Google.
Thank you for your important work.
There are actually some examples in the QRG of pages that are considered high quality as they are great heartfelt patient discussions. If you’ve got forum content, this can be great. But it depends on what people are searching for.
A page with a user generated discussion on how to live with chemotherapy side effects could possibly rank really well. I wouldn’t ditch all UGC, but it is still important that Google has a lot of signals to recognize the authority of the site as well.
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!
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.
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 ??
I’m a big fan of author boxes, with a link to an author bio page on every post, yes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Google knows exactly what they are doing. This is the first obvious step toward total censorship of anything not promoting the allopathic disease management system.
Marie, I will do as some of my colleagues are doing, and have functional medicine doctors and biological dentists review all my blog posts on these subjects….
…but any guidance you may have on HOW to do that would be appreciated. So, my bio and link to my Amazon Author page, and then another paragraph saying this blog post was reviewed and approved by XXXX, MD or YYYY, DDS, with a link to their site? (that would be my compensation for these docs/dentists, since I have a high-traffic site, and they don’t, so the links should be useful to them)
We recommend that every author has a bio that explains in 3-4 lines why they are qualified to write on this subject. And then the bio should link to an author page that goes into even more detail.
Linking out to the doctors’ sites is probably a good idea too.
It is also important to note that a good amount of how Google calculates E-A-T is from mentions on authoritative sites. This goes for both the authors as well as the site itself. So, it’s not enough to just get someone who is a physician, but ideally someone who is recognized online as an authoritative physician. That’s definitely difficult!
The 30% boost is very interesting to me. Would you mind sharing the site, or at least what they did to increase the rankings / EAT?
The reason I ask is because we actually have really well-known doctors and nurses on our staff. We just haven’t ever implemented it for EAT / QRG purposes and I’m looking for various ways to do it.
In my specific niche, I’ve noticed an increase in rankings from both webmd and healthline. Both of them seem to have what Marie Haynes was talking about. They don’t say it was written by a doctor, just that it was reviewed by a doctor. See screen shots below:
I would also like to add that we have two sites in the health industry. One lost around 50% organic traffic and the other stayed the same. There are subtle differences between the two but one gets most of it’s traffic from “Test” KWs and the other gets it mainly from “symptom” keywords. The Symptom KWs seem to have dropped the most — Most likely because these articles need more “E” in them.
This might have already been said, but in addition to the “Doctor Reviewing the content”, we’re planning on making sure we prominently display any signs of trust to the user such as:
1 Any “McAfee Secure site” badges
2 Any HIPPA compliance Badges
4 Any BBB / SSL Secure / $ back guarantee / etc that we can think of
I’d be interested to know if anybody has studied the backlinks of the sites that got hit versus sites that improved to see if they noticed any trends in them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So did the financial sector.
Thank you Marie!! this is the best article I have seen covering the new Algorithm change.
Thanks Brian. 🙂 That makes me happy that I gave up an entire weekend to get it written. 🙂
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
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:
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.
Amazing near real-time analysis. Thanks for sharing.
Very nice explanation! We have experienced huge changes. We have gained a lot in long tai, but lost rankings on the short popular keywords.
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.
I forgot to say thank you! I’m so grateful you didn’t wait to address this- and you did so extremely well. Much appreciated, Marie.
Why don’t you report them to Google for paid links? https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/93713?hl=en
It is impossible to lose faith in Google fast enough. They are pure evil and the world deserves a fairer system. Do you realize it is CIA developed company? There is nothing good about Google.
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.
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.
I strongly disagree.
The only acceptable way for Google to rank medical websites is to favor pages backed by strong research.
Information from unreliable sources (ex. self-proclaimed experts, charlatans, doctors whose research has not been confirmed) do not belong to the first page of the SERP.
As the many comments to this post testifty, the algorithm is far from perfect.
However E-A-T is the right way to go.
Why aren’t you a conspiracy person? Too afraid of your authorities to see the truth?
Think this. A fantasy thought.
We are the owner es of a big industry, hugely profitble: pharmacy, medical care.
In the last 15 years we have seen a noticeable increase on alternative solutions, and what is most doungerous an increasing desire for people worldwide to SEARCH for those alternative solutions.
What can we do? Hummmm, How people SEARCH? How most of people find info? ON THE NET.
Well, the most pupilar SEARCH engine is Goggle!
Let’s do it that Google strains/filter out the unwanted alternative.
Remain up those who can show A LINK of some sort to the mainstream, that is us.
You may compare results, who come first with Yahoo, Bing, Yandex.com
TIME TO WAKE-UP. Maybe I had just a dream my friends 🙇🏻♀️
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.
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.
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.
I did researched your site on SEMRUSH. When I looked at your loss – you are seeming to have lost 50 visits. I’m not sure what that would be totally devastating. How were you making money through the blog with 50 visits? Some sites lost a lot – in the millions. I know this is hard. I understand. I hope your site will get higher rankings.
Your sin is that you defied what your betters, the allopathic gods, told you. You came up with a healthful and natural solution to your problem. You are bad slave and must be punished.
You defied your betters, the allopathic gods. You are a bad slave and must be punished. It’s really that simple.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
And just who defines trustworthy authority? Don’t you see where this is leading?
Gary Illyes from Google says that it’s largely based on off-site links and mentions in authoritative places.
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.
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 …..
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.
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.
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 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.
Excellent comment. The point is not to provide better search results. The point of the is algo was to destroy anything related to natural health and prop up anything related to drugs.
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!
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.
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.
I did not write any article and i have only address on website but i saw big improvement …. is it EAT?
no positive and negative review… no product but common services which other also selling.
Nowdays Google pay awesome money to seo’s…. you better know
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
any thoughts? I’d really appreciate your input, Marie.
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.
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?
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.
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:
I hope others might find it useful.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Well, I really believe Google is censoring EXACTLY as BRYAN so eloquently stated. I realize you have a business to protect, and in today’s world of abject censorship it’s risky to speak the truth. That’s why I’m posting in total support of Bryan’s message of truth.
Thanks Vic for your comment. It truly amazes me how the majority appear to just accept whatever is dished out to them, It is as if they are living in a complete vacuum. As I stated in my second comment we need to be able to understand the world around us to be able to understand why these things are occurring in the Google Space (and other tech giants). It has reached the stage where people are practically prostrating themselves at “The temple of Google”.
The paradigm that most affected site owners seem to have is one of: “how can we make Google happy?”. Such a paradigm is dangerous as we are playing straight into their hands. And eventually we as a civilisation will become so dumbed down and so fearful that George Orwell’s “1984” will seem like a Sunday picnic in the park.
Do we want to let mental permafrost set on – or do we want to become sentient aware beings who will fiercely guard the citadels of free thought and expression and who recognise that the cornerstone of life and the health of humanity’s future will not rest on software algorithms and the products of our industrial system – but rather on freedom of exchange of ideas and the bounty of natural food that this planet lovingly provides.
At the end of the day we will all become personally accountable and so the sooner we all wake up to what is REALLY happening and the REAL agendas, the better. Otherwise we will simply become canon fodder.
Again thanks Vic for your moral support on this issue – it certainly IS a bit hard being a minority voice as you yourself would know full well.
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?
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.
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.
So, Marie, do you think, the main problem is article? Or anything else? Can you please reply it few more clearly? Thanks anyway.
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?
@Marie Haynes any thoughts on this?
Those sound like pretty specific circumstances. It’s hard to comment on much without knowing the specifics unfortunately.
can you help me? yesterday rank drop 20%
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.
Dear madam, that is circular logic. How can one become a leader in one’s field if the SERP gods insist you don’t exist?
The same could be true of any business offline. If I opened up a store in my town selling designer dresses, why would anyone want to come to it? It’s not enough to have great content (i.e. really cool dresses). I’m not going to get business unless people are talking about my company. If I did some cool event that the press was interested in, that’s a start. If my products are so amazing that people are talking about them online, that helps too. While you can’t become a leader overnight, it can be done.
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.
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?
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??
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.
Could you please answer my other question RE biohacking/small non-authority figures still having any chance of ranking well?
That’s tough to say. I think that for health related queries, there is likely always room for long tail rankings. The idea would be to find the questions or mini-niches inside a niche that aren’t covered well enough by the big sites and outperform them for content. But, for big keywords, unless you have really good E-A-T, ranking is going to be difficult. That said, E-A-T can be built over time. Someone might be a nobody right now, but if you can get published and get people talking about you, then that can change. It’s certainly not easy though.
I agree with the argument given by Nick.
If you compare healthline and draxe, I believe Dr. Axe is having higher trust as the person himself writing the articles or at least has his name on the articles. He is an authority in the health industry but still punished by the new algorithm.
I agree for certain topics like surgery or illness an expert opinion is required but not on general topics like acne masks or weight loss etc. Tips from my grandmother helped me lose weight and she is not a world known expert.
I’ve made a discovery since writing my above comment. If you take a look at the BBB profile for Dr. Axe, you’ll see that the BBB has a massive red warning banner as many people have requested refunds and couldn’t get them. This speaks to trust. The QRG mention that a low BBB rating is a sign of bad reputation.
What about health insurance comparison websites?
Amazing post Marie.
Very interesting, i like the E*A*T concept.
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.
Hear hear. You are so correct. This is so clearly politically motivated you’d have to be in on the scam not to see it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That’s the point of these sites – to go against the false religion of scientism. The internet is supposed to be a free and open forum for all ideas, where the best ideas may win. This is censorship, pure and simple. Evil.
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 🙂
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.
sorry for my bad english, i’m neapolitan with not so mutch occasion to practice english.
my site down in July, i don’t know how fix this algo 🙁
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.
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.
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.
We are seeing similar idiosyncracies with SERP results! Google has made a very silly update indeed. Either Google reverts this back soon or people should look at other search engines.
duckduckgo is still returning good results, and so is bing, compared to Google.
You are far too kind. There is nothing “silly” about this. It was designed to destroy natural health alternatives, among other things.
I just want my rankings back! Jeez
Today’s Many Sites Affected Google Cache error 404 ,When we do fetch and rendering process but after few day’s the issue is Facing again. What is Fixed Solution of that google cache 404 error
I don’t think there is a solution at this point.
We were hit with google penguin update in sports nutrition niche. We are losing major positions, currently -20% drop and still increasing.
It’s really bad to see that, but Google is master and it sucks, because they can change, censore what ever they want. We are legit website, but following all this is getting nightmare.
In my opinion this is bad change as I see now, so much unknown websites ranking with zero expertise etc.
To be clear, Jake, I don’t think this was a Penguin update. It’s tough to say much without knowing your site unfortunately.
Thank you for this article which after reading it, I can see why my healthy eating site has been so badly affected.
I used to rank on the 1st page for popular Banting diet keyword terms but since this update I’ve been relegated to the 2nd page of the SERPS in some cases & disappeared in others.
I’ve updated my about & contact page since reading your article.
How does the increase or decrease per SEMrush or other tools you’ve seen compare with analytics? Do you see relatively similar increases/decreases in organic traffic in GA or Omniture for sites you’ve seen flux on and have access to?
I have a site that had a pretty big increase, reflected in both SEMrush and Ahrefs, but I don’t see the traffic increase anywhere the same way in GA or Omniture (we have both).
It’s hard for me to get others excited about the increase when they don’t see it in our analytics of record ;P
As with most updates, there are a lot of sites where GA data doesn’t completely line up with SEMRush. But, I’ve found that for the most part with this update, if SEMRush is reporting significant changes, they are in line with what we’re seeing in GA.
Sometimes what happens is that you could see a jump from say #40 to #6 for a top keyword. This would likely be reflected in SEMRush and Ahrefs, but being #6 won’t get you too many more clicks.
I’d look at what keywords increased in rankings and then see what you can do to provide even better content on those subjects. Hopefully things look better soon!
It is not clear that the August update is aimed at improving the content. Many pages with poor quality content are now in the top positions. Neither to reward only the most important authorities in the matter, because it appear in first positions pages that are not written by doctors. Just one example, the first 3 positions in the term “bradicardia sinusal” are:
The article is not about sinus bradycardia in particular, but about bradycardia in general. The text in Spanish looks like a translation from English, with bad wording and non-medical terminology. The authority of the mayoclinic leaves no room for doubt, but his texts in Spanish are deficient.
The content of the page is minimal and of poor quality. They present themselves as trainers in medical issues, but it is not clear who they are.
The article is clearly journalistic, most with terminology not used by doctors. None of the components that appear on the web is a doctor or nurse. The author of the article is presented as “Bachelor of Social Communication in Journalism and Master in Communication Management”.
Will it be an update for money?
Google Fined Record $5 Billion by EU, Given 90 Days to Stop ‘Illegal Practices’ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-17/google-said-to-have-11th-hour-call-with-eu-ahead-of-android-fine
Who is going to pay the fine?
If we lower the positions of the websites that are in the first places, if they have invested a lot of money, they will now have to spend a large amount on adwords. If the websites remove the advertising of products of dubious effectiveness, Google’s advertising will be more visible, including its ads about products of dubious effectiveness.
Sorry for the mistakes of my English
I seen lot of site down in this latest google august algorithms update. even I have seen not medical related site but other sites are effected and drop their rankings.
Thanks for sharing informative article!
You mention the EAT and the YMYl features. I’ve been researching these two theories and found people talking about the as far back as 2013. What is your opinion of what it had evolved into? Do you think the focus is going to be more heavily on this now as apposes to 2013 and 2015?
I started getting really serious about E-A-T in early 2017. I truly think that with the February 7, 2017 algorithm update, Google truly integrated this assessment into the algorithm. I honestly think E-A-T is a bigger factor than most links these days!
Google has made a terrible mistake with this update. It is for the following reasons.
1) For many of the keywords, the first 10 results are getting dominated by just top 2-3 sites with multiple listings, even though the content is totally useless sometimes. So, the user now has to actually navigate to results showing up on 11-20 positions, which is very contrary to Google’s goal of giving the best results.
2) The sites that show up in the top 10 search results, for the most part, do not have to depend on Google Ads for their business, unlike the smaller sites. This will significantly bring down the net available impressions for Google advertisers – eventually hurting Google itself that draws in nearly 97% of its revenue through Ads.
Poor user experience on Google Searches and Fall in Google Ads revenue – these are the two reasons why Google would have to roll back this silly update that has very little to do with either content quality or credibility.
Marie, we know you are a fan of Google Algo updates and cannot hear otherwise, but Google can also make mistakes and this seems to be a big one!
First of all, thank you for this very eye-opening post! I would like to share my thoughts on the subject.
It is funny (albeit in this case a bit sad) that I happen to be the owner and the main author of a keto website. Its central niche is keto desserts recipes, backed up with informative content about the keto diet, nutrition, and health. Of course, I have been hit quite severely since this update.
I am a psychologist, and a neuroscientist focused on cognitive and nutritional neuroscience. I do not give out any medical advice, and although I love how I feel when following keto approach to eating, I do take a critical stance towards any radical diet approaches, including keto. As a scientist, it is my job to stay skeptical and to be open to finding a fallacy in even the most grounded and the most widely accepted scientific “facts” and theories. More so when it comes to poorly researched new approaches. But I guess, my weakness is being a single player and not being a part of a big company.
I will follow your advice and work on the about page, get stricter about authors who contribute guest posts and be even more openly critical to any radical approaches even I conduct and write about from time to time. Starting to brag about my work, rewards, giving out the LinkedIn account and so one will be a huge step out of my comfort zone as I tend to be introverted, stay in the shade and let myself be known only through my work. But I will get to work and change this today.
Still, I am afraid, as others have written above, that if Google is all about big companies, pushing us smaller players behind, all the efforts increasing the E.A.T. might only have a minor positive impact, as I cannot compete with internationally known PhD-s and organizations no matter how successful I have been in my studies and research so far.
On the other hand, I do believe that if this is the case, the real life will eventually show that people need not only blunt science but also warm, informative content, coming from individuals that share personal experience, n=1 experiments, and try to give support through interpreting the science and, in my case, offering recipe ideas. Otherwise, we would know no communities, support groups, etc.
Of course, this is my personal opinion which Google needs not care about. Well, we have used different search engines in the past, why not trying to focus on, let’s say DuckDuckGo for a while, and see what happens?
Hi, Marie. A simple question for you: my website is not related to health; it’s about erotic short stories. However, we have ads with a ‘suspicious’ medical product. Do you think this can be a problem? After this last update, the site started to fall and is now on page 6 for the main kw (it used to be on the first page a year ago).
I do think that having “questionable” ads on a site can impact quality. The Quality Raters’ Guidelines talk about this specifically and mention that it can be a sign of low quality if there are ads that potentially make people feel uncomfortable.
That said, it wasn’t completely just health sites that were hit. We’re seeing drops across many niches…but many health sites saw the biggest swings.
You shouldn’t have anything to worry about. As long as you are promoting anything immoral or unnatural you will be loved by the CIA/Google algos.
Thanks for the information you shared here and I glad to know how many first time visitors like me loved this. I got affected my adsense and affiliate sites too and have 2 questions in mind.
1. Guest posts which mention the posters name with a link to his blog are being considered low quality from a while as Google doesn’t want to guest post for LINKS.
So With this update, Seems like this type of guest posts may help a lot if we just get a mention to author or link to the social account from author boxes?
2. Reading the comments above feels like this update is unfair with many many niche experts who don’t have an online presence outside their websites.
Many people reported and I personally feel that the “left traffic” stays more time on blogs and convert well (for some).
Is it because long tail keyword’s ranking is unaffected and main keywords got affected as explained by janezb in above comments?
We all know long tail keywords work better in conversion.
If Yes, Why long tails are unaffected?
3. Almost 3 weeks passed, Whats your prediction on whats going next in next months or have you seen any site recovered?
Maybe my questions don’t deserve to get answered, but I appreciate every bit of time you put in on this page.
Guest posts are a tricky subject. If you’re using them for links and trying to get published in as many places as possible, that’s not good. But, if you can get a few guest posts published in true authority sites, I do believe that that can help your E-A-T. For example, if I guest post on Moz or SEMRush, I’m not doing it for link equity but for two reasons: 1) To get potential business from people reading those posts. 2) To build up my recognized authority on those topics.
To answer your second question, it may seem unfair that many niche sites were hit. But, I do believe that Google is trying to show users what they want to see. We see time and time again where someone comes to us for a site review and says, “My site is amazing! It is way better than competitors!” But when we look at the site we can see that it is lacking a lot of things that we found useful on other sites. Looking at your own site objectively is really hard.
To predict what is happening in the future with this is hard. But, I think Google will continue to do E-A-T related updates and will find more and more ways to truly surface the best sites. It’s not perfect now, but in most cases I feel they’ve made good improvements.
Good article. But you forgot to address one thing.
I get where EAT comes from and I generally approve it.
Can you explain the logic behind this EAT in organic search results, when one could easily invest in Adwords and pay a hefty amount for top position sponsored spot and be #1 on google, even with no authority??
Or do Adword ads go under EAT review as well when biding for spot #1 on google serp (above the fold ads)?
What a total heap of crap from google.
I don’t claim to be an expert on Adwords, but do know that Quality Score is a big deal with Google Ads. I would imagine that E-A-T, or at least trust is somewhat factored in.
I am sure that an ad would go thru screening before it is accepted and put live on SERPs. It’s a necessity for sure, otherwise there would be a flood of people selling all kinds of crap on google. But I am not talking about “snake oil” selling websites here. These can be spotted from the Moon.
I am talking about semi-authority or low-authority EAT sites here that are not allowed to be on top of SERPs anymore (due to lack of EAT), but are generally in good shape and offer quality content. So the webmaster could now pay for an ad and be on top of SERP for a given keyword. Or did they implement the EAT in the adword screening now as well?
I don’t think so. I ran a few tests with my profitable keywords (not too competitive ones – 3000 to 5000 searches per month, however still those were “important keywords” when it comes to a person’s well-being). Guess what? The sites that popped out on top were some sites that sale items, with little background (no authors, no about us pages etc) that would hardly pass an EAT review). And my site was on 2nd page of google. Seems that you can still buy your way to the top, even if you lack EAT then??
Hey what do you think of this?
It makes sense that this update was not specifically targeted at medical sites, but that medical sites saw the brunt of the effects. I do think this was primarily about trust and it has affected many sites of every kind of niche.
Very strange results on this side. Like 3 of my health niche sites are totally disappeared from google while the other few sites (nutritional) showing triple growth.
Hi Marie, congratulations about your website. I´m im Brazil and I support a website about physiotherapy as a growth hacker. I’ve noticed that the organic traffic is down since august 1st. This change about YMYL sites affects english websites first and then following sites in othes languages? It seems that it is for the whole world. Whats is your impression about that?
My site is drop almost half of visitors 🙁
Hey, thanks for the great article. Actually, one of our site has significantly drops after this update. I would like to know, is there any tool can help to figure out exactly?
An investigation into traffic drops takes my team 1-2 weeks to analyze. There really isn’t a tool that can do it quickly and with accuracy as there are so many potential factors. But, I’d start by reading Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines.
Excellent article Marie. I am now looking at the application for all my sites of E-A-T. Do you think going back over old content and improving it will help regain rankings?
It certainly won’t hurt. 🙂 The QRG do say that one of the characteristics of a high quality site is that YMYL info is kept up to date and makes good use of references.
Thank you kindly.
Once is health related but everything I have written and every health claim made is referenced. Very much wiki style. All articles have at least 5 references from reputable source like government agencies and university studies and research. Some articles 25+ refences.
Still, site got hit.
I read somewhere the update was related to search intent and the intent behind keywords for example “Math tutor” just a phrase but what is the intent behind it? is the searcher looking for a math tutor or a employment as a math tutor.
My review words plummeted while “buy” increased. Oddly stettling down now my overall average position on GSC is about the same, CTR has increased but still a 65% drop in impressions and SEO traffic. Lost a bunch of high volume keywords!
This is a great post & very informative apart from one simple fact:
ketodash.com are nothing more than parasites and it’s absolutely fantastic that google has finally punished them.
All the content they have is stolen. Take a look at their recipe categories for example – Every single recipe is copied from some other website with a nofollow link back to the original content so they don’t lose any SEO juice.
Despicable behavior – so glad they are gone!
Copied from Search Engine Journal: “Google’s John Mueller has clarified that the search engine’s algorithms do not look at author reputation when ranking websites.” Now I’m really confused!
I did not interpret John’s statement the same way that the SEJ post did. To me, John is saying that the whole thing is complicated. It’s not like the algo says, “Aha! You are authoritative, so this site goes to the top.” I think that rather, it’s just a part of the whole picture.
The QRG are really specific about having the raters look into the authority of an author. I can’t see how this is not a part of the algo. I certainly could be wrong, but even if I am, there is no harm in doing all you can to build the authority of your authors.
Have to say that, in our medical niche, author strength doesn’t seem to have been a key factor…only 1 of the sites that saw significant gains during this update had any greater evidence of or depth of authority than any others. In fact, some sites which gained significantly have far less authority.
It seems more like strength of brand online, ‘added value’ in content e.g. content presented in a more visually attractive way, and not being overtly commercial are the big factors that have differentiated the winners from the losers.
Just what we’re noticing in one small sector.
Thanks for the post. very useful information.
Our business is into professional cleaning services. our keywords are responding well as before. after august 2018 update our rankings were dropped down so badly. can you please suggest me what I need to do on my website
here is my website
It’s tough to say without taking a good look. SEMRush is reporting that traffic went up in July and returned in August to “normal” levels. It may be that you just had a temporary boost.
I had a quick look at your links and I’m seeing a lot of keyword anchored links that look unnatural. I’d take a look at that too. It may be that you had a temporary boost and then Google stopped counting some of the equity in those links.
Thanks for your reply,
I had worked on anchor links on August last week and well optimised and my ranking was somewhat better on 1st September. after September 11th again my keywords rankings were going down. kindly help me with your suggestions.
For the most part, if you have links that you can control the anchor text on, they’re likely links that Google doesn’t want to count. The types of links that Google wants to count these days are those that are there because people truly want to recommend your content. Whenever I say this, someone always argues that it would be impossible for Google to tell whether a link was paid for or was in some way self made for SEO reasons, but I disagree. When I’m doing a link audit, it is super obvious to see when people are link building and when content is truly getting linked to because people want to recommend it. And Google’s engineers who figure out which links to trust are really smart.
I would not look to link building in traditional ways in order to improve rankings. Rather, you have to get recognized as a true authority in your field. Do things that truly get the press talking. Do something that could go viral. And keep testing.
I know everyone is complaining about the new update but so far my traffic has not changed much
Trump also affected by the algo
Do leasing-services websites count as YMYL- websites?
Any site that takes money, does transactions, or helps people make important life decisions is likely considered YMYL, so yes.
Basically, all E-commerce sites and affiliate sites are considered as YMYL?
That’s my interpretation of your statement above.
All sites that take payments are eCommerce. Whether affiliate sites are or not, is tough to say. I would think though that if people are visiting your site to make a buying decision, it’s safe to assume you are YMYL.
Thanks for putting together this information, I like the slant that you put on this story, it’s one of the better perspectives that I have seen so far! Have you seen any new traffic trends since the initial story?
We’re definitely seeing that “trust” is a big issue. Most sites that were hit had some type of trust issue such as offering the service for free, when there really was a fee, not honouring refunds, being overly markety, or deceiving users in some way.
Mind checking my blog out as to why I got affected? Been trying to see what went wrong since a month now.
Health blog – https://healthymortal.com
Thank you Marie!
Dr. Ayesha. I can’t say this for certain without doing a more in depth review, but I did a quick Google search on your name and couldn’t see any authoritative mentions of you. To write on medical subjects, you need medical E-A-T. If you’re not recognized as an authority, it will be hard to rank.
Also, I looked at one article (on home remedies for medical conditions) and didn’t see any references to medical research articles. I’d definitely start there.
Thanks for this article. I was hit hard by the drop in traffic. My site is about tips for improving fitness of mind and body. When I was 55, my doc told me he expected me to drop at any moment because of my poor health.
I was close to 275lbs, high blood pressure, near type 2 diabetes and 300 cholesterol. Besides the physical problems I was in a battle with depression and suicidal ideation.
The best advice my doc and others I went to could give me was to lose weight and keep trying new antidepressants. A tactic which I had tried the previous decade to little avail. I did not know what to do and felt increasingly desperate on ‘how’ to feel better.
One day, I decided to eliminate processed foods. Instead of my usual bagel eggs and cheese, I asked the chef for whatever vegetables he had available, eggs, hummus, avocado and olives. (because like many other obese people, I was terrified of not having enough to eat, and I could not imagine getting through the morning without a bagel and blueberry muffin.)
The chef did not like the change of this menu and asked me what to call this mess if I was to ever order it again. I thought of how my mother called all mixed up dishes in Yiddish, a ‘mish mash’, so I told him to call it Hashi Mashi.
6 months later after having Hashi Mashi every morning, I was 75 lbs lighter, and another 6 months after adding some basic weight training like deadlifts, squats and pushups, I was down to 175lbs. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes a1c level, everything was so much better, and especially suicidal ideation. When people asked me how I lost the weight and looked better, I told them Hashi Mashi.
More people in my neighborhood started ordering Hashi Mashi from him. The chef himself was so surprised he put the item on his menu where it still is to this day, and people began to call me Hashi Mashi.
I am not a doctor, but as a result of my experience, I wanted to help people who are suffering with obesity and/or depression. Before Aug 1, I had about 10k visitors to my site https://hashimashi.com. My traffic has dropped over 30 percent since then and it continues to drop.
I do not have any products that I sell, just information that I hope will give people some encouragement that it is possible to lose weight and get fitter, even if they are over 50. And possible to deal with treatment-resistant depression.
At the age of 60, I went to a Personal Training school in NYC to get certified as a personal trainer and the school of integrative nutrition for certification as a health coach.
My questions are:
1. Do you recommend that every article include my certification as a personal trainer with a link to the school I attended?
2. Or is it meaningless because I am not a doctor?
(Of course the irony is that my primary doctor and psychologists could not help me.)
3. Is the health coach certification more of a liability than a benefit? And I ask the same about the Personal Trainer certification?
4. I also happened to publish a guest post on my site, for a person who had asked if I would, I said yes, and his post went up on Aug 1, could there be any link between my publishing his guest post with a no follow link and the traffic drop?
5. I have been trying to find a way to give my system a name and during that time frame I was appending RX to HM FIT and never imagined that it might come back to haunt. I am thinking based on your article that having RX anywhere on my site is a problem, because of RX sounding too medical and RX being related to pharmacy ?
I won’t be able to answer all of these questions as we are swamped with doing reviews right now. But, the best advice I could give is to make sure that you are recognized off of your site as an authority in these spaces. Do interviews. Do things to get press.
Also, make sure that all of your medical claims have supporting references. (Not saying they’re not as I haven’t checked it out, but this is a common issue.)
If there ever was more evidence that Big Pharma, Corporations & Govt have an agenda of keeping people in the dark about what true health really means – and that is using plants as medicine, exercise, meditation, working with the natural elements, and not using toxic prescription drugs and processed foods for an early death then the latest Google Algorithm update is making it blatantly obvious the agenda is real and happening.
So unless what you have to say is not ‘scientifcally backed’ – in other words unless it’s been funded by big pharma with an agenda to make profits over YOUR health, then Google won’t trust your website.
And don’t get me started on Facebook. What a crazy world we live in. Freedom of choice, speech being diminished by the day.
Thank you for this article. So far, this update focuses more on medical niche websites. I hope you could provide additional case studies for other niches. I also wanted to share that my website drastically dropped the Alexa ranking. The good thing is it doesn’t affect my organic traffic and ranking.
While many medical sites were hit hard, other types of sites were definitely hit as well. Google has confirmed that this update was not targeted specifically at YMYL sites. Still, the majority of sites that saw hits were YMYL.
I sell stainless steel sanitary fittings to the food and beverage industries. I mention this because my website was definitely impacted by this algorithm change I have NOTHING to do with YMYL or the medical field.
What’s odd about my results is that according to Search Console data, clicks/impressions dropped by ~30%. While position and CTR only dropped by about 2- 3%.
The most popular search terms were not impacted very little which leaves me to wonder if there were a lot of long tail words that my website was previously showing for that it should not have.
If you are selling products, then your site is likely classified as YMYL. Any site that takes financial transactions is considered YMYL by Google.
It’s hard to say what’s going on with your GSC data without taking a deeper look, but something doesn’t seem right there. If clicks are down 30%, then CTR has to have dropped more. It’s certainly possible it’s a GSC anomaly though as beta GSC has a lot of glitches right now.
I do feel that with this update Google got better at determining whether or not people have intent to buy. If people are looking for information and not likely to want to buy, Google may steer them away from a site that is mostly transactional.
I did have a quick look and one thing that I noticed is that there really aren’t any authoritative mentions of your company. I did a search for “yourdomain.com” -site:yourdomain.com and couldn’t see anyone else talking about the company. A big aspect of EAT is that it is important to be known as an authority in your vertical.
Hi, Marie. Thanks a bunch for the thoughtful response, I really appreciate it. My initial understanding of YMYL was not as broad as you defined it here as being any site that takes financial transactions.
I do not have much in the way of authority at the moment. I am working on this but it’s a process.
The most recent update is even more confusing. I have a few cases where a few websites with pretty much the same approach have suffered either a loss in traffic or a huge gain. Some of these websites were not as badly hit as this time in the previously announced Google algorithm updates but this time around things are different. I hope you will do a post of August updates too.
Maybe … but I think its about Google wanting content to be ‘authoritative’
Also Google seems to want to move away from external follow links to other websites. So removing external links could be an important factor to this algorithm (amongst other things like speed, mobile etc)
Yes, This seems to be true , if you are not authority on a topic you should not write or hire a freelancer to write for you, especially health related topics
This is a really helpful post and one I found via Google 🙂
Our blog was heavily affected by the August update. We have some posts (maybe 20%) that could be classified as medical and where we dont have the proper EAT. Should we noindex those posts so that we don’t get dinged sitewide?
It’s really hard to say without a thorough investigation. It may be worth a try though.
thank you for the article. i’ve spent the past couple of weeks doing research on SEO, and i’ve learnt so much. my question is:
i started a new blog , and i chose multiples niches to cover, including nutrition, medicine, technology…
i haven’t written anything yet, and now that ive heard about this recent update, i’m somewhat hesitant on whether to go forward with this or just choose another niche.
note that i recently graduated medical school, but i have no experience working yet.
i have a lot of valueable information about the niches mentioned above, but it seems that i lack the E-A-T… and i thought it would be frutrasting to put all the work into my blog and get no results since even the bigger blogs are getting hit by this.
any answers would be really appreciated
thank you again.
This is something I see all the time and I do agree with you that building a blog that covers multiple topics may not be a good tactic. The exception would be if you could somehow tie it all together. For example, you could try to become known as an expert in nutrition and then only write medical and technology posts that are related to nutrition. You would then work hard to get people off of your site talking about you as a nutrition expert. You could write a book on an aspect of nutrition. You can try to write for authoritative publications. You can create content that people truly would want to share and then promote it.
The problem though is that there are already a LOT of nutrition experts out there who are well recognized as experts in this field. If you are starting out, it may make more sense to write about something much more niche specific. The idea is to find a topic that you truly can become known as a world leading expert in. That might sound difficult, but it can certainly be done. It wasn’t that long ago that I was a veterinarian who was just learning about SEO, and now I’m relatively well known as an expert in SEO.
The niche of my site is “marketing” not “medical” but I lost a lot of my traffic, which I just started to gain. Plus I lost my rankings for some great keywords that I just started to rank on!
My site is Wowbix.com, & after reading your tweet and this article, the first thing I checked was my about page that was incomplete until Sep 9. I have added content on the About Us page, I have added team members. We haven’t won any awards yet, but working very hard on it.
I have added some more pages such as:
Can you take a quickest look if I am on the right way please?
Sorry to hear you were hit August 1st. This update was definitely not just about medical sites (although they were the hardest hit IMO.)
I like what you’ve done so far. It’s important to note though that making changes on your own website is a good place to start, but in reality the majority of E-A-T is likely determined by Google looking at what others are saying about you. I had a quick look and saw one Yelp review and other than that didn’t see many people talking about your company. I’d look at getting your team published in authoritative places, producing content that authorities in your site would want to link to, and generally doing good PR to get people talking about the company.
Thank you, Marie, for replying, I will be looking into it. Your post and your reply is really helpful, thank you.
Do you think going with the Press Release is a good option for my company? I was thinking about Press Releases.
If you’re doing press releases just to build links, then no. But, if your company is truly doing great things and your press releases are actually getting picked up by journalists, then this is great.
We also found big drop in ranking of our healthcare and doctors related projects. But now few of them recovered but few not. We are still trying let see.
Thank you for the article, and for solving a mystery. My employer’s website traffic dropped 54% in August, and I had no idea why until I found your article. My first reaction was “what gives Google the right”, but no doubt they have good intentions. Our company manufactures and sells a wide variety of molded plastic items… virtually anything made of plastic. We are not a diet/health/medical site, but unfortunately the change did affect our site negatively. Unfortunately I wear many hats besides webmaster, and cannot devote all my time to fixing this. But at least now I have a clue where to start.
Hi, I’m trying to figure out why traffic dropped recently & have discovered it’s due to GMB only showing us for actual business name.
GMB support tell me to get more reviews but i’m the longest running & highest reviewed business in the area + creating posts & adding content whereas spam accounts with fake information are still displaying.
Any ideas why? Also do you have a jargon buster on your site as i read a huge amount about SEO but never heard of E-A-T (no offence)
Hey marie, do you think that google might be using “whois” information of the domain to validate the site owner name in “about” section?
Is this possible?
It may be so, but as far as i know ALL the domain names in Europe must hide their whois information. So what do you think?
It’s possible. There is a patent that Bill Swalski has written about that shows us that Google can look at whois data.
I thought I’d share my findings after resolving the problem to an extent.
As GMB said we just had to do normal stuff like add more photos & get more reviews I thought it must be more than a GMB issue.
What we did was strip out of the website any local landing pages as we also noticed that no competitor has them. Google’s algorithm must punish businesses with landing pages by not showing them on maps which is where most of the local traffic is.
Just thought i’d share this as we now display like everyone else does.
After August 1 Google update, my Alternative Health site (in breathing retraining and the Buteyko Method) https://www.NormalBreathing.com lost over 70% of its traffic.
I gradually created this site during the last 12 years with over 500 indexed pages now, but my Ph.D. is in Physics and Math.
What can be done if all top medical authorities in respiration ignore two central facts of life:
– Breathing more air (than the tiny medical norm) causes less oxygen in body cells
– People with diseases and even ordinary people breathe now about 2-3 times more air than the norm.
Only the Homepage of this site has nearly 100 quoted references from credible medical sources to prove the above facts, while I personally offer the money back for my Skype classes even to severely sick and terminal patients with cancer, CF, HIV-AIDS, etc.
I guess we can restore some of the traffic with more authority signs (I already started to add “Medically reviewed by …”), but I now completely stopped using Google for any of my searches and advised, via all our social networks, to our supporters to do the same. By the way, during the same period of the last 3 months, our traffic from Yahoo and Bing have been steadily growing…
Trust in doctors, as it is now proven, is declining, while Google made, as I now believe, a truly repressive update in relation to many alternative health sites.
Sorry to hear about these losses. I was not able to check the site due to time constraints but I would highly recommend reading my new post: https://www.mariehaynes.com/the-september-27-early-october-algorithm-update-was-likely-about-googles-ability-to-assess-trust/
PS. Thanks, Marie, for the above article that opened my eyes on causes of this disastrous fall in traffic after August 1, 2018.
I send a comment (#44655) directly after the update in August. Since then we have done a lot of work to strengthen the trust signals. Now, since yesterday we see a recovery .. currenty nearly decrease of 25% of rankings & traffic. I am not sure if this is stable, but I like to know if everyone else see some decreases after the medic update? Michael
There have been a lot of tweaks to the algo lately. More info here: https://www.mariehaynes.com/the-september-27-early-october-algorithm-update-was-likely-about-googles-ability-to-assess-trust/
Our site is an E commerce store selling medical devices which is comparatively new (1 year old) Till June 2018 we got page 2 and 3 placements for couple of keywords. But suddenly all vanished in the beginning of August. Can you check it?
Due to time constraints I won’t be able to have much of a look. What I’d say to check for though is whether you’re known as an authority online. If not, good PR is the way to go likely.
I am a mod at SeoChat. One of the members there takes care of a website in the pharmacy niche, hit bad by the Medic Update. After reading both this article and another you did, (the slideshow September 2018) I would like to offer an additional tack on identifying what this update may be flagging.
After I took an in depth look at the online pharmacy site in question I have identified what may be the cause of some sites failing. This could affect a tremendous number of site.
For example, YMYL sites with inner pages that are not inline with the intent of the homepage of the site. In this instance a Pharmacy site with a line of product promoted as sex toys. In addition to that after further inquiry into the ranking and traffic loss, it seems that site that promote controlled substances are also being impacted.
After noting the site lost rankings for the term “Codeine Linctus”. After finding out this info, I decided to check with the TOS of Google Shopping. Was I ever surprised to find out how strict Google is concerning the online sales of home HIV testing kits. The site we are diagnosing sells HIV home testing kits. Here’s caveat, Google only allows site in the USA, and the product must be on the United States Food and Drug Administration list to sell these test kits via Google Shopping. The site in question is in the UK. After further checking, I found this page extremely interesting. https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6150151#country
I am thinking that this Medic Update could be enforcing the rules required for promoting these “Controlled Substances” and “Monitored Products” on Google Shopping world wide on Pharmacy Niche sites.
Since you have access to much more data concerning sites that lost traction and sites that gained traction concerning the Medic Update I would kindly ask you to see how this information compares with the sites that gained and lost after the update. Looking forward to your response.
KnowOneSpecial SeoChat Moderator
Hey Don! Thanks for commenting. This is an interesting thought.
This fits into my latest analysis in thinking that most of these updates have to do with trust: https://www.mariehaynes.com/the-september-27-early-october-algorithm-update-was-likely-about-googles-ability-to-assess-trust/
Does this information apply to dispensaries. I’m seeing big hits. Having trouble figuring out what to do.
Definitely, yes. Also see https://www.mariehaynes.com/the-september-27-early-october-algorithm-update-was-likely-about-googles-ability-to-assess-trust/
Thanks for your great post! I read the report you shared and I didn’t see anything as to whether or not career/job search help sites are considered YMYL. Do you know if they fall into that category? Also, if you check out my blog, are my author boxes sufficient or do I need to actually link to a new page that has individual author bios for each author?
I’d say that career and job sites are definitely YMYL as you’re helping people make a very important decision in their lives.
Hi Marie 🙂 first of all great read.
As you mention its an overall algorithm hitting on serveral niches. I have a few clients within the health niches, and actually i was allready kinda ready for a big hit like this. I made serveral case studies since the update in January 2018, which allready startet at that point, hitting more and more pages with low to zero unique content and alot of “zombie pages”.
Everything been good untill august 2018. Ive seen a few downs on my clients within the health niches, but nothing serious. My fix was actually just better content and making nofollow on all the “dead pages” with no unique content. I think what Googles tends to visualize for us more an more is that Quality content is king, and dont fill up their search engine with garbage content. This also means which you also said in your article here, that you dont have to be a doctor or high authority to ranking top within your niche, but rather making content which is actually relevant and good for the users to read. This is where most SEO’S still is wrong, doing nothing but 500 words a landing page, and then just boost the site with ugly blackhat links. It can work, but when the algorithm hits like the one in august you see hard hits.
My tip for everyone here is, focus on quality content, stop hitting your pages with dofollow links straight on atm its to dangerous before we know that everything is cooling off. As we know off Google might not be done yet, and they allready made another algorithm change in september 2018 which focused on garbage content. and if you only know how to linkbuild and not do quality and long content for your users, stop doing SEO, its the journey that is fun.
Hi, great article! Sadly i have two online game sites, and in august and october 2018 y lost almost 50% of my traffic, i don’t know why
I’ve seen other gaming sites that were hit as well. I would look for potential trust issues such as people complaining about malware or games not working. I’d also work on making sure you are recognized as an authority in the field which means getting mentions in authoritative sites, which can be a challenge.
Hi Marie, your article has impressed me with such incredible information about the googol update. Btw, I will ask you and all the experts of SEO and digital marketing here some simple questions like these:
a. Do you want to give me a real algebraic formula in the latest google algorithm?
b. How does this formula affect the previous Google algorithm algebraic formula?
c. Do we still have to use the Google Pagerank algorithm algebraic formula and then override it with the algebraic formula of the pagerank algorithm and so on until now?; and
d. Is is enough if we just imagine the algebraic formulas while whish SEO tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console work accurately?
Please provide answers in a coherent and chronological way, and easily understood by lay people.
I wish I had the entire algorithm to provide to you. 🙂 Alas, no one outside of Google knows that. I can only take my best guesses on what Google wants to see, based on things that Google employees have said and what is in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines.
I just woke up one day and realize all my traffic gone, my search console graph dropped drastically and I got deranked in all my keyword, please could this be the major algorithm updates
Thanks for the very informative article. I have learned a lot from them and also from the conversations you have you with the people commenting here.
I would like to ask you a question if that’s okay:
¿Do you think that ever YMYL site is treated the same way by Google?
Per example a blog/site that gives information about a serious disease vs a blog about everyday skincare or haircare.
Are those types of blogs YMYL?
I am asking you this because a very good friend of mine wants to start a blog in those fields.
But after this update, I am not sure if it’s feasible anymore. I could be wrong. Her goal, in the long run, is trying to monetize it.
Thanks a lot
I do personally think that there can be levels of YMYL. So, a site that helps people understand a cancer diagnosis is likely treated to a higher level of scrutiny than one that sells pencils. (The latter would by YMYL because they are taking financial transactions on the site.) I do think that a blog about a serious disease, skincare or haircare likely would be YMYL.
I wouldn’t say that it’s impossible to start a blog in a YMYL industry, but I’d only do it if it is possible that I could become known as an industry expert in the subject online.
Thanks for making it easy to understand and realize where we had gone wrong.
Consider my issuee similar to ketodash.com and now I am nowhere in top 10 pages.
Now, I would like to know how much time do we need to wait to regain our rankings after fixing the issues?
It really depends on whether the trust issues are fixable. If so, it could take months to recover, unfortunately.
This is really cool and i appreciate everyone here
Thanks for a very useful article. I hope you could provide additional case studies for another niche. Please, could this be the major algorithm updates? Thanks all especially, Dr. Marie Haynes.
Can you explain to me what are YMYL sites? BTW Marie thanks for keeping me up to date about every algorithm update. Keep up the Good Work.
YMYL = Your Money or Your Life. Any site that is financial, medical, legal or takes money is YMYL. But there can be others….If your site helps people make important decisions then it is likely YMYL. This means it is held to a higher standard of quality.
This is an awesome information and easy to understand.very detailed post thanks for the worthy stuff about E-A-T and YMYL and your thoughts also.
and I hope you will keep writing more article like this one.
Locally I’m the most qualified professional, the best certifications, actually the ONLY real course in my field which is not a 2 week or weekend course, but a one year with review, supervised practice, etc. How does Google know that and compare with other people? Got tanked from the first page to the second. It began a month ago with a once well-ranked internal page, and now with my main keyword. I’m lost. Don’t know what to do.
This is tough to comment on without knowing the specifics. When we do our site reviews it usually takes us about two weeks to go through all of the possible reasons for a site to drop in rankings.
First things I would look at would include the following:
-Do you have mentions on authoritative sites?
-Do you have people saying good things about your business online (off of your site)?
I’d also look at technical aspects such as thin content, etc.
Marie, have you had further insight regarding this update? It can’t be as simple as a YMYL/EAT checklist considering dietdoctor and dr axe were hit; which each check out as credible, good reputation, etc.
There is much more to E-A-T than just “E”. You might find this post helpful. I am fairly certain that Dr. Axe saw drops due to trust issues…mostly because of not honouring refunds.
We’re talking about censorship … no one notices?
Could you please review this site and give me some tips
( https://holisticdoctoronline.com ). Its affected in august update and still cannot recover.
It has about page and all other details.
I had a quick look. I’d really recommend reading this post that I wrote on how Google can assess trust. I had a look at this article, https://holisticdoctoronline.com/gallstones-types-causes-risks-symptoms-treatments/ and quickly noticed the following:
-There’s no reason for Google to want to send users to a page like this rather than WebMd or another well recognized medical site.
-No scientific references
I also noticed a lot of “home remedy” articles such as natural cures for diabetes, that contain no scientific proof. There are likely other issues as well, but it may be hard to get this site to rank well unless you can truly become known online as a medical authority.
Ironic that google should judge sites so harshly on selling products and making money; as they use their monopoly to wring people out like sponges for their personal info to resell. seems like this update really squashes the little guy and hands the front page over to sites with huge budgets and many employees.
@missy I totally agree with you, it’s clearly abused, it’s the hospital that doesn’t care about charity. Google has been favouring big brands for a very long time, it has been years since the big brands won the game.
I used just follow Neil Patel for seo related stuff but I think I have found a new source. This page has helped me in many ways.
I think of it as, when i hire a builder, I TRUST he has the right certificates and experience do the job and get signed off. Same goes with medical advice, I do not just want medical advice from john doe.
That is the trouble i am facing. I am john doe sitting at a desk (at home) offering medical articles (heavily referenced and well researched) lol but who am i to offer this free service? This has to happen as more people come online. Just about anyone can now look worthy on the internet, there is no hiding now.
BIG QUESTION: where can i find qualified doctors to do article reviews? one of my medical related sites is seeing a decline since august.
This is a great question. How about approaching some local doctors? With that said, it may not be enough to just have doctors review your medical content. They likely need to be quite closely associated with your site.
We hope to have part2 of our E-A-T webinar launched in a few weeks. In this webinar we’ll talk a lot about author E-A-T, so it may help you get more ideas.
Thanks for your great post! I read the report you shared and I didn’t see anything as to whether or not job searches help sites are considered YMYL. Do you know if they fall into that category? Also, if you check out my blog, are my author boxes sufficient or do I need to actually link to a new page that has individual author bios for each author?
Google doesn’t tell us exactly which sites are YMYL. I would think that job sites are, though as they are helping people make very important life decisions.
Unfortunately the link to your blog doesn’t seem to be working, so it’s hard to comment. In general though, I like to have every author have their own page to extol their E-A-T.
Any thoughts on the recent core update on 12th March 2019 by Google??
You can read more about my thoughts on the March 12, 2019 update here: https://searchengineland.com/googles-march-2019-core-quality-update-stories-of-recovery-314347
Is there any new update after this one? I think my websites survived the last update. but recently my local sites are effected hugely. I have checked every metrics thoroughly, I found no problem in it.
many thaks, this is an awesome information and easy to understand. very detailed post thanks for the worthy stuff about E-A-T and YMYL and your thoughts also.
Can you explain the logic behind this EAT in organic search results, when one could easily invest in Adwords and pay a hefty amount for top position sponsored spot and be #1 on google, even with no authority??
Or do Adword ads go under EAT review as well when biding for spot #1 on google serp (above the fold ads)?
What a total heap of crap from google.
I was looking thru the history SEO and your article and the comments actually gave me the same. Thank You for helping.
Awesome blog with lots of information. It is really helpful for all.
Thank you for this article. Do you know anyhting about the alogoritm update in August 2019. Although it is a small update, has it anything to do with the update last year at the same period?
It’s really a cool and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that
you shared this useful information with us.
Thank you very much for these great, practical ideas. Like others who have commented, I need to create/revamp some portfolio examples. This article is very timely.
Great post Marie… I have it pinned on my browser 🙂
Thank you for this comprehensive guide as you have shared some observations and practical example. Actually this has helped me to optimize my newly created site to avoid future penalty.
Hey Marie Haynes,
Thank you for the post. It’s a great piece of information, especially for those who are in digital marketing. Keep writing such posts.