Google Medic Update: What You Need To Know

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Google made a significant update to its core algorithm recently, and SEOs and marketers are scrambling to analyze their data and understand what’s going on.

Depending on your industry and type of website, you may have noticed drastic drops in traffic (reports of up to 30%) or minimal changes.

We’ll cover some of the results and findings after the update and what you can do if you believe your website is impacted.


When did the Medic update take effect?

Search Engine Roundtable was the first to report on the update, which they first observed on August 1.

RankRanger Chart for Google Medic Update SEMRUSH chart for Google Medic Algorithm Update

Search engine volatility charts show the update began to influence search results as early as July 22. The update was completed within the first week of August.


Why is it called the “Medic” update?

As with other Google updates, Google has no official name. Since Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable was the first to report on it, they had the opportunity to be the first to give the update a name.

Schwartz based their name on the study of 300 companies after the update, in which 42% of websites impacted “were specifically in the medical, health, fitness, healthy lifestyle space.”


What effects did the update have?

Keep in mind once again that Google does not release statements on algorithm updates, so many of the results come from agency work or personal stories.

Reduced rankings for medical pages

Search Engine Roundtable reported that close to half of their surveyed websites were in the medical industry, followed by e-commerce, then finance and technology. Comments for the same article reinforced the data, with accounts of pages about supplements dropping three ranks on the results page.

Improvements for commercial sites and big brands

Yoast has also reported a few changes but towards large brands (particularly KLM, IBM, and McDonald’s) and commercial sites. Jobs pages for big brands have become more prominent, leading to their rise in overall rankings.

Improvements for mobile-optimized sites

The Medic update shows that mobile continues to matter, but it’s not just about having a mobile website. CanIRank reported that mobile experience and usability factors were equally important, such as font size, visibility and user interface.

Greater impact on advertorials and opinion sites

CanIRank also reported a great impact on advertising passing as actual site content. In addition, websites with a strong authority and objectivity were seen to be less impacted than websites with opinion-based content.


What can I do if my website is affected?

First of all, remember that Google makes frequent algorithm changes and to be prepared at all times.

As marketers continue to research the causes of this update, the same pillars remain important in retaining traffic and ranking:

Optimize for mobile

Make sure your website can be easily accessed and used on a smartphone or tablet. That means the imagery should resize accordingly, text should be easy to read, and navigation should be simple to use. Don’t just have a mobile site, actively work on improving the experience for mobile users.

Stick to genuine link building strategies

Finding and building high-authority inbound links is essential to any content strategy. But don’t ever settle for blackhat techniques, like buying links or using shady niche websites. Not only will the gains be temporary, you could even risk being blacklisted.

Focus on your content and advertising efforts

Relevant and high-quality content remains as important as ever, so continue to write blog posts, articles, case studies, and other long-form pieces. But don’t completely rely on content- bolster it with some online ads. Google has become a pay-to-win space, so even a little advertising can go a long way in clicks and impressions.



Google’s Medic update has done clear damage to many web pages and domains. Frequent Google updates should be expected, but responding isn’t always simple. Continue to focus on whitehat SEO strategies such as link building, content marketing, and online advertising to weather the volatility.

As marketers learn more about this update, we’ll continue to update this article. Keep an eye out for our research on future algorithms as well.

Also, check out our 2018 SEO checklist if you haven’t already. There are some great tactics in there for improving your page rankings.

Need help with your search engine marketing efforts? Learn how Arcalea can help.