Google constantly changes the way it indexes and ranks content. The trouble is, they rarely, if ever, explain these changes. The Google Medic Update is probably one of the most famous examples of this.

In fact, when the Medic update rolled out, Google told us almost nothing. Here’s what they announced:

Google medic update tweet
The Tweet announcing the Medic update was incredibly vague. Image credit: Twitter

As an SEO, this isn’t particularly helpful.

Additionally, this announcement makes Medic sound a lot less important than it really was. The reality is that sites saw huge fluctuations in their rankings immediately after the update emerged.

In fact, according to some sources, first page rankings in the US varied by as much as 70% in the week after the update.

Google medic update featured image

Ultimately, this means websites losing money because their traffic has dipped, and others seeing big gains.

When Was Google Medic Introduced?

The Google Medic Update was rolled out in August 2018. The update was announced just one week after Google updated its 200 page Quality Rater Guidelines. This is a document which helps Google employees to decide which pages should rank the best.

In other words, this is the framework Google uses to determine how good your content is.

As with any Google algorithm update, the official advice after Medic was to focus on creating great content for your users. The changes to the Quality Rater Guidelines added even more credence to this advice.

Why Was Google Medic Introduced?

The reality is that some SEO are always going to find shortcuts. Usually, this means figuring out ways to get your site ranking, without making the effort to create value for users. Google’s ongoing battle is to make this impossible.

Like any other algorithm update, this was the ultimate goal of Medic.

This is part of an ongoing drive to help users find the content which best meets their needs.

What Does the Medic Update Affect?

However, the Google Medic update didn’t impact all sites equally. In fact, the was dubbed Medic, because it disproportionately affected health, lifestyle, fitness and medical content. The business, technology and legal sectors also saw big impacts.

Google never said they were explicitly targeting these sectors, but the data is clear that this is where the biggest impact was seen.

So what do these industries have in common?

Content in these industries can have a huge effect on the reader’s life. These are sensitive niches, where your advice can greatly impact users’ health, business, money or relationships.

Your Money Your Life (YMYL) Content

YMYL content is anything which can have a major impact on users’ lives. Google holds this content to a higher standard, especially after the Medic update. This makes a certain amount of sense.

Think about non-YMYL content, for example in the travel niche. If you give someone bad advice about where they should go for dinner on their holidays, they might be annoyed, but other than that, there won’t be any serious consequences.

By contrast, Google has to have confidence that YMYL content contains good advice. This takes into account ranking signals like:

  • Whether the content was written by an actual expert,
  • If the content is sufficiently details,
  • If the content is up to date,
  • Whether the content offers actionable and valuable advice.

We’ll return to this later to look at how you can ensure the credibility of your YMYL content.

YMYL infographic
YMYL content can have serious impacts on users’ lives. Image credit: SearchEngineJournal

Education, Authority, Trustworthiness (EAT)

YMYL content also requires higher standards of expertise, authority and trustworthiness. This framework is referred to as E-A-T. The more you can signal these factors to Google, the better your content will rank.

Here’s what each means in practical terms:

  • Expertise – This relates to who you are, and what positions you as an expert in your field,
  • Authority – What evidence can you show that other people in your field regard you as an expert?
  • Trustworthiness – How can you show that your content is well researched, accurate and trustworthy?

There are a number of strategies for each of these. With that in mind, let’s look at the core things you should do when trying to rank your content post-Medic.

EAT content infographic
Your content should display expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Image credit: ForwardPush

How to Rank Under the Google Medic Update

When it comes to trying to maximise your SEO efforts, it’s worth remembering that chasing the algorithm is never a good idea. Truthfully, this is a wild goose chase. In the worst case scenario, it might even lead you to using black-hat SEO strategies.

As such, it’s not possible to give a checklist which will guarantee success under any given algorithm update.

Rather, here are the core things you should keep in mind to ensure your content has the best possible chances of ranking after the Google Medic update.

Understanding Search Intent

Search intent is what a user wants to achieve when they carry out a search. Over the years, Google has gotten considerably better at figuring this out, based on the search term itself, and how users interact with particular results.

This is the first step to creating content to target any keyword.

Luckily, there are only four kinds of search intent that you need to worry about:

  • Transactional – Where users want to make a specific purchase,
  • Navigational – Where users want to find a certain website,
  • Commercial Research – Where users want more information on a particular product, but aren’t ready to make a purchase yet,
  • Informational – Where users are looking for the answer to a question, or the solution to a problem.

This informs what kind of content you should create. Most of the time, search intent should be basically self-evident. However, sometimes there can be a grey area. For example, some users might want different things, but enter the same search term.

In this case, you can simply review the results for this search term, to see what kind of content is performing the best.

Content Volume

Generally speaking, there is a correlation between the length of a piece of content and how it performs on Google. This elicits a lot of confusion, so it’s important to be clear about what exactly it means.

It’s not exactly true that, all else being equal, longer content will rank the best.

What’s closer to the truth is that your content should be long enough to thoroughly answer the user’s query. Typically, this will be longer, but that’s not the same as saying that longer content is always best.

When planning your content, check how long the top performing pages for your target keywords are. If you think you have more to say, then great.

Google medic wordcount stats
It’s important that your content is long enough to provide value for users. Image credit: ReliableSoft

Boost Your EAT Content

Finally, there are some steps you can take to sure up your EAT credentials. Remember, you’re trying to convince google that your content has expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

For example, you can flesh out your about page and author bios, to start building a personal brand, and establish yourself as an authoritative voice.

You can also seek out reviews, citations and backlinks in order to help signal that you’re considered an authority by other voices in your niche.

However, as noted before, simply chasing the algorithm is unlikely to pay dividends. Instead, if you want to rethink your SEO strategy, the best option is always to speak to an expert, to help figure out the specific steps which will benefit your business.

The Ever-Evolving Medic Update: A Journey Through Search Algorithm Refinement

The Google Medic Update, officially known as a broad core algorithm update, landed in August 2018 like a sonic boom in the SEO landscape. While details remain shrouded in Google’s secrecy, piecing together its evolution paints a fascinating picture of an algorithm continuously learning and adapting. Here’s a glimpse into its journey:

2015: The First Rumbles:

  • Whispers of an “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)” update began circulating within the SEO community.
  • While not officially confirmed, these murmurs hinted at Google’s growing focus on high-quality content and reliable sources.

August 2018: The Official Arrival:

  • The Medic Update rolled out, causing significant fluctuations in search results, particularly impacting websites in Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) categories like health, finance, and legal information.
  • Initial interpretations focused on stricter evaluation of E-A-T signals, leading to concerns about content farms and low-quality information dominating search results.

2019 & Beyond: Refinement and Expansion:

  • Google remained tight-lipped about specifics, but experts believe the Medic Update wasn’t a single event but a continuous process of algorithm refinement.
  • The focus on user intent and understanding context beyond just keywords became increasingly evident.
  • The impact wasn’t limited to YMYL sites, with other niches experiencing shifts as Google emphasized user experience and high-quality content across the board.

Present and Future: A Learning Machine:

  • While the core principles of E-A-T and user intent remain central, the Medic Update continues to evolve with Google’s AI and machine learning advancements.
  • User engagement metrics like dwell time and bounce rate became crucial indicators of content quality and user satisfaction.
  • Mobile-friendliness and local search optimization gained even greater importance in the increasingly mobile-centric world.

So, what does this mean for you?

  • Focus on creating high-quality, informative content that truly addresses user needs and demonstrates expertise.
  • Build trust and authority by showcasing qualifications, relevant credentials, and reliable sources.
  • Prioritize user experience with clear structure, engaging writing, and mobile-friendliness.
  • Embrace continuous learning, stay updated on SEO trends, and adapt your strategies as the algorithm evolves.

Remember, the Medic Update wasn’t a one-time event but a turning point in Google’s search philosophy. By understanding its core principles and staying informed about its evolution, you can ensure your website thrives in the ever-changing world of search and delivers genuine value to your audience.

Beyond YMYL: The Ripple Effect of the Medic Update

While the Google Medic Update primarily targeted Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) websites like health, finance, and legal information, its impact extended far beyond those initial categories. Understanding these broader ripples is crucial for any website owner navigating the ever-evolving search landscape:

Direct but Less Dramatic Impacts:

  • E-commerce: While not strictly YMYL, online stores selling products impacting health, safety, or finances (e.g., supplements, personal care items, financial products) felt the heat. Trust signals like product quality, clear information, and customer reviews became even more critical.
  • Educational Resources: Websites offering educational content, especially in sensitive areas like parenting, career advice, or language learning, experienced scrutiny. Demonstrating expertise, qualified authors, and up-to-date information became essential.
  • News & Media: The fight against misinformation intensified. News outlets faced increased pressure to provide accurate, factually-checked information and showcase journalistic credibility.

Indirect but Important Shifts:

  • Focus on Expertise and User Intent: The Medic Update’s emphasis on E-A-T signaled a broader trend: Google prioritizing content created by experts who understand user needs and deliver genuine value. This applies to all niches, from travel blogs to DIY tutorials.
  • Rise of User Engagement Metrics: Dwell time, bounce rate, and other user interaction signals gained prominence. Content that engaged users, kept them on the page, and provided solutions moved up the ranks, regardless of the specific niche.
  • Mobile-First Indexing: The Medic Update coincided with Google’s mobile-first indexing approach. Mobile-friendliness became paramount for all websites, impacting user experience and potentially influencing search rankings across the board.

Remember: The Medic Update wasn’t just about specific categories; it was a philosophical shift towards high-quality, trustworthy content that benefits users. Regardless of your niche, embrace these core principles:

  • Become an expert in your field: Continuously learn, stay updated, and demonstrate your knowledge through your content.
  • Build trust and authority: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and reliable sources to establish credibility.
  • Focus on user intent: Understand your audience’s needs, answer their questions comprehensively, and provide solutions.
  • Prioritize user experience: Create clear, engaging content that keeps users on your website and coming back for more.
  • Optimize for mobile: Ensure your website is seamless and user-friendly on all devices.

By understanding the broader impact of the Medic Update and adopting these essential practices, you can position your website for success in today’s search landscape, no matter your niche. Remember, the focus is on quality, expertise, and providing genuine value to your audience – principles that benefit both users and search engines alike.

User Engagement & Metrics: The Voice of Your Audience in Search Rankings

In the post-Medic Update era, search engines like Google go beyond simply matching keywords to websites. They strive to understand user intent and deliver the most relevant and satisfying results. That’s where user engagement metrics like dwell time, bounce rate, and user experience (UX) come into play, silently whispering to search engines what users think of your website. Let’s decode their language and see how they influence your ranking:

Dwell Time: Holding Their Attention Matters

  • Dwell time refers to the average amount of time a user spends on your website after clicking through from a search result.
  • Longer dwell times signal to search engines that your content is engaging, informative, and meets user needs.
  • This positive signal can contribute to higher rankings in search results, as it suggests your website delivers a satisfying user experience.

Bounce Rate: A Red Flag for Dissatisfaction

  • Bounce rate measures the percentage of users who leave your website after viewing just one page.
  • High bounce rates indicate that users quickly click away, suggesting your content might be irrelevant, confusing, or not user-friendly.
  • Search engines interpret this as a negative signal, potentially lowering your ranking as it suggests dissatisfaction with your website.

Beyond Dwell Time & Bounce Rate: A Holistic View

  • While dwell time and bounce rate are crucial, user engagement involves a broader spectrum of interactions.
  • Consider metrics like click-through rate (CTR), indicating how often users click on your website in search results.
  • Internal linking structure that encourages users to explore deeper within your website also plays a role.
  • Social media engagement and brand mentions further contribute to search engines’ understanding of user perception and satisfaction.

User Experience: The Silent Partner in Engagement

  • User experience (UX) encompasses the overall feel and ease of navigation on your website.
  • smooth, intuitive, and mobile-friendly UX encourages users to stay longer, explore more, and engage with your content.
  • Conversely, a poor UX with slow loading times, confusing navigation, or lack of mobile optimization frustrates users and leads to high bounce rates, negatively impacting your ranking.

Optimizing for User Engagement: Beyond the Numbers

  • Quality Content is King: Create informative, well-written, and visually appealing content that resonates with your target audience.
  • Structured & User-Friendly Design: Ensure your website is easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, and offers a seamless user experience.
  • Clear Calls to Action: Guide users where you want them to go, be it reading another article, contacting you, or making a purchase.
  • Optimize for Speed & Performance: Slow loading times can frustrate users and lead to high bounce rates. Prioritize website speed and performance.
  • Engage with Your Audience: Respond to comments, answer questions, and foster a community around your brand to build trust and loyalty.

Remember, user engagement is a continuous loop. By analyzing and understanding these metrics, you can refine your content strategy, improve your website’s UX, and ultimately, influence search engines to reward your website with higher rankings.

Embrace user engagement as more than just numbers. It’s the voice of your audience, whispering valuable insights to search engines. By listening to that voice and crafting a website that truly engages and satisfies users, you’ll not only climb the search rankings but also build a loyal audience that keeps coming back for more.

Ranking Higher for YMYL Sites with a Mobile-Optimized Experience

In the mobile-dominated world we live in, having a website isn’t enough. For Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) websites, where trust and user experience are paramount, mobile-friendliness has become a critical ranking factor since the Google Medic Update and beyond. Here’s why:

The Mobile Imperative for YMYL Sites:

  • Over 54% of global web traffic now originates from mobile devices, and this number continues to rise.
  • Google adopted a mobile-first indexing approach in 2019, meaning the mobile version of your website is primarily used for ranking and indexing, even for desktop searches.
  • This signifies a clear message: for YMYL sites, where users often seek immediate answers and trust, a flawless mobile experience is no longer optional, it’s essential.

The Medic Update & Mobile: A Symbiotic Relationship:

  • The Medic Update emphasized Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) as key ranking factors for YMYL sites.
  • Mobile-friendliness directly impacts these factors:
    • Easy access to information: Users on mobile screens need clear navigation and optimized content for quick understanding.
    • Building trust: A seamless mobile experience demonstrates professionalism and user care, crucial for building trust in YMYL domains.
    • User engagement: Frustrating mobile experiences lead to high bounce rates and short dwell times, negative signals for E-A-T and ranking.

Beyond Rankings: The Mobile Advantage for YMYL Sites:

  • Improved conversions: Users are more likely to convert (book appointments, make purchases) if the mobile experience is smooth and efficient.
  • Local SEO boost: With mobile devices often used for local searches, YMYL sites with mobile-friendly local listings and information have a higher chance of appearing in relevant results.
  • Enhanced brand perception: A mobile-friendly website portrays your brand as modern, user-centric, and trustworthy, further solidifying E-A-T signals.

Optimizing for Mobile-First Ranking in the YMYL Landscape:

  • Responsive design: Opt for a design that adapts perfectly to different screen sizes and devices.
  • Speed is king: Prioritize fast loading times, especially for mobile users with limited data plans.
  • Optimize images and videos: Compress images and use appropriate video formats for efficient mobile loading.
  • Thumb-friendly elements: Ensure buttons and text are large enough and spaced well for easy tapping.
  • Local optimization: Ensure your local information like address, contact details, and business hours are accurate and easily accessible on mobile.
  • Structured data: Utilize schema markup to enhance how search engines understand your content and display it in mobile search results.

Remember, mobile optimization is an ongoing journey. Regularly test your website on different devices and browsers, analyze user behavior data, and make data-driven improvements to ensure your YMYL site offers an exceptional mobile experience. By staying ahead of the curve and prioritizing mobile-friendliness, you can ensure your website thrives in the mobile-first era, attracts users effectively, and builds the trust and authority that’s crucial for success in the ever-evolving YMYL landscape.

Bonus Tip: Leverage Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to easily assess your website’s mobile readiness and identify areas for improvement.

By combining mobile-friendliness with high-quality content, strong E-A-T signals, and a focus on user engagement, you can establish your YMYL website as a trusted authority in its field, attract qualified traffic, and achieve your online goals in the mobile-first world.

Case Studies: Thriving in the Post-Medic Era – Websites that Adapted and Succeeded

The Google Medic Update, while challenging for some, presented an opportunity for websites to refine their strategies and emerge stronger. Here are a few inspiring case studies showcasing how different websites adapted and thrived:

1. Health Blog:

  • Challenge: A health blog with informative content but lacking author credentials and user engagement.
  • Adaptation:
    • Featured articles by medical professionals with clear bios and qualifications.
    • Encouraged user interaction through comments, surveys, and Q&A sections.
    • Prioritized mobile-friendliness and optimized content for readability.
  • Result: Increased organic traffic, improved E-A-T signals, and higher rankings for health-related keywords.

2. Legal Information Website:

  • Challenge: A website offering legal information with generic content and unclear authorship.
  • Adaptation:
    • Partnered with licensed attorneys to create in-depth, legally accurate articles.
    • Displayed author profiles with credentials and relevant experience.
    • Incorporated case studies and legal citations to enhance content credibility.
  • Result: Gained trust from users and legal professionals, leading to backlinks and improved authority.

3. E-commerce Store:

  • Challenge: An online store selling health supplements with limited product information and user reviews.
  • Adaptation:
    • Created detailed product pages with scientific backing and transparent sourcing information.
    • Encouraged customer reviews and testimonials to build trust and social proof.
    • Partnered with reputable third-party review platforms.
  • Result: Increased customer trust, improved conversion rates, and higher rankings for product-related searches.

4. Financial News Website:

  • Challenge: A news website with aggregated content and low user engagement.
  • Adaptation:
    • Focused on original, in-depth financial analysis by qualified journalists.
    • Utilized data visualization and interactive elements to enhance user engagement.
    • Prioritized fact-checking and transparency in financial reporting.
  • Result: Established itself as a trusted source for financial news, attracting loyal readers and improving organic traffic.

5. Local Service Business:

  • Challenge: A local service business with a basic website and limited online presence.
  • Adaptation:
    • Optimized Google My Business listing with accurate information, high-quality photos, and positive reviews.
    • Created local content addressing community needs and showcasing expertise.
    • Engaged with local online communities and built partnerships.
  • Result: Increased visibility in local search results, attracted more qualified leads, and improved online reputation.

Key Takeaways from these Success Stories:

  • Focus on content quality and expertise: Partner with experts, showcase credentials, and create valuable content.
  • Build trust and user engagement: Encourage interaction, display user reviews, and prioritize transparency.
  • Mobile-friendliness is crucial: Ensure a seamless experience for users on all devices.
  • Local SEO matters: Claim and optimize your local listings, engage with your community, and offer localized content.
  • Stay informed and adapt: Continuously learn about SEO best practices and adjust your strategies as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Does the Medic Update affect websites outside of YMYL niches?

A: While the Medic Update primarily targeted YMYL sites, its emphasis on E-A-T and user experience has impacted all websites to some degree. Focusing on high-quality content, expertise, and user engagement is beneficial for websites in any niche.

Q: How can I check if my website is mobile-friendly?

A: Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool ( to assess your website’s mobile-friendliness and identify areas for improvement.

Q: What are some ethical SEO practices I can follow?

A: Focus on creating valuable content, building backlinks organically, avoiding black hat tactics like keyword stuffing or link buying, and being transparent with your audience.

Q: How can I stay updated on SEO best practices?

A: Follow reputable SEO blogs, attend industry conferences, and utilize resources like Google Search Console to stay informed about algorithm changes and best practices.

Q: Where can I find more case studies of websites that thrived after the Medic Update?

A: Search online for case studies or blog posts specifically discussing website successes after the Medic Update. Industry publications and SEO tools often feature such examples.


The Google Medic Update, while presenting initial challenges, ultimately encouraged a positive shift towards high-quality content, user trust, and ethical SEO practices. By understanding the core principles of E-A-T, prioritizing user experience, and adapting your strategies to the evolving landscape, you can ensure your website not only survives but thrives in the post-Medic era.

Remember, the journey to SEO success is ongoing, but by focusing on these key principles, you can build a website that earns the trust of both users and search engines, achieving sustainable success in the ever-changing world of online visibility.

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