Google algorithm update: what are the changes?

04/09/2018 | Digital


he month of August began with a real earthquake for the SEO world. Indeed, on the first day of the month, a new update to the algorithm that governs the order of search results within SERPs was released by Google. What are SERPs? This term refers to those pages that enclose, in the form of an ordered list, the results of a search performed by a user (Saerch Engine Result Page). This update has had a major impact because it has led to a reshuffling of rankings on Google search pages internationally. Simply put, pages that until a few weeks ago were in the top positions of the SERP suddenly found themselves much lower.  

The official name of this update is "Broad Core Algorithm Update," but it was quickly renamed to "Medic Update." The reason for this new name is quickly stated: the medical, pharmaceutical, healthcare sector in general is definitely the most affected by the update. Various sites whose content orbits around personal health and wellness have lost positions within Google's search pages, and with them some traffic as well. Let's try to understand why this change occurred.

Underlying the Google algorithm update

To fully understand the rationale behind Google's algorithm update, we need to start from July 20, 2018, the date Google released the guidelines intended for Quality Raters( you can find the documenthere ). Who are the Quality Raters? They are those experts, external to Google, who are in charge of evaluating organic search results in qualitative terms. For them, in the July 20 document, Google outlines the concept of E-A-T (Expertise - Authoritativeness - Trustworthiness).

Thus, according to Google's new guidelines, the factors that Quality Raters must take into account when evaluating the quality of search results are:

  • The expertise of the person who created that particular content;
  • authority, both of the creator and of the content itself;
  • thereliability not only of the content and the creator of the content, but also of the website where it is published. 

Google's guidelines get even more specific when it comes to regulating medical/healthcare sites:

"Pages providing medical advice or counseling, to have high E-A-T value, should be written or produced by persons or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. Medical advice or information with high E-A-T value should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated regularly."

What changes with Google algorithm update

It is clear, therefore, that the intent Google wants to pursue with this update is to favor quality content over others, that is, those that can demonstrate a high level of expertise in the subject matter described. In fact, it is no coincidence that the sites of large companies or the pages of institutions (e.g., Aifa and Humanitas) seem to have benefited from this update, at the expense of other pharmaceutical information sites that are less well known, or at least whose authoritativeness can be less accurately certified.

Probably Google's goal in the long run is to curb as much as possible the phenomenon of "fake news" and hoaxes on the net: this update, in fact, seems to go exactly in that direction. If we consider the ease with which everyone today can write and publish content on the net, even knowing nothing about the subject, it is not so difficult to think that Google is looking for a solution to curb this drift. It is not surprising, then, that it is precisely the sites on healthcare and personal well-being that are the most affected by this change: unfortunately, these are topics that more than others suffer from the power of the hoaxes that multiply every day on the web. 

How to survive the Google update

There is still a lot of confusion on the subject, the update itself still seems to be a work in progress. Given the guidelines already mentioned, however, the advice is to work on the concept of E-A-T on one's own site, thus trying to increase its competence, authority, and reliability. For example, deepening the "about us" or "contact us" page (perhaps with detailed biographies for each author) can serve to make the site more transparent, and thus it can be trusted. The more sites can have an economic or health impact on people (so-called YMYL - your money, your life - sites), the more they need to be taken care of from a reliability standpoint.


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