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Google’s August 2018 Algorithm update – what did it mean?

There was a fair bit of hoo-hah in August as Google dropped another algorithm update without warning.

This is not unusual in itself – Google has always released search algorithm updates without pre-warning anybody, and it usually drops several updates per year – some small, some big.

But was the August update (which was eventually given the nickname ‘Medic Update’ in SEO circles) anything to worry about? Did it change anything?

Google’s Information Release (or lack thereof)

As always, Google was reticent about revealing any information – Google keeps its cards close to its chest and never reveals too much. This is purely a business tactic, of course – why would Google tell people how to game its search function? The party line from them is, as always: if you’re selling a product or service, pay for Google Ads. Otherwise just make great content. (Not helpful advice for those that like a very healthy  ROI!)

So it comes down to the SEO community, which is a very active community that enjoys knowledge sharing, to assess the impact through its own anecdotal evidence.

It became clear that the pages & sites that were most affected belonged to the ‘Your Money or Your Life’ category of online traffic. As Search Engine Land explains, these sites are:

  • Pages that solicit personal information, such as personal identification numbers, bank account numbers, etc., which could be used for identity theft.
  • Pages used for monetary transactions, on which users might give their credit account or bank account information; for example, any page that allows you to buy something.
  • Pages that offer medical or health information that could impact your physical well-being.
  • Pages offering advice on major life decisions, such as pages on parenting, purchasing a home, a vehicle and so on.
  • Pages offering advice on major life issues that could impact your future happiness and finances, such as pages giving legal or financial advice.

SEO Authority

So it looks like if you have an e-commerce site, accept confidential information or give out very important advice, then it’s time to make sure that you are still ranking well for your target keywords.

But what if you have been negatively affected? What can you do to your site to bring back some of the traffic you might have lost?

Unfortunately, there is no clear guidance for site that might have lost some positions with this update. Because Google is so obtuse with the details of the update, it’s hard to say if there is one definitive thing that could improve your site.

As always, the guidance is make sure your site works well on mobile & desktop, loads quickly and is easy to navigate. For content, make sure you’re producing great content that is relevant to your industry. This is no different to the advice that everyone has been giving for the past couple of years, but it appears that there is more and more evidence for focusing on content.

Search Engine Land does have some other great pointers at the bottom of this article.

Have you been affected by the latest update? Losing out on important keywords to your competitors? Have a chat with us about our SEO Services and see what we can do to help.