Google Medic Update – Website Designed for Searcher’s Intent

04 January 2019

Remember that one thing we love about the Internet? Fast, available and complete information about any given thing in the World, within a click away?

We should gather round and remember how did we get here, and who or what made this possible. We had newspapers, radio, TV, books, encyclopedia, but none of that was digested and put into a giant database and made available to anyone with an internet connection. Not before Google.

Slowly, we became more and more connected and dependent on those little search boxes. And even when making big life decisions, like taking care of some health issue or spending a big amount of money, we resort to Google Search.

So, the web became an infinite source of information. But can we trust that information, especially when it’s a life or money matter, and when it (the website) claims to be there to help us?

Your Money (or) Your Life!

That information, concerning websites and pages that are focused on money and life events got an interesting acronym - YMYL? So, what’s this YMYL and what it has to do with Google searches? It means “Your Money or Your Life” and is connected with websites and content focused on money and life events. The Google raters’ guideline defined them as:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages: Web pages that allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
  • Financial information pages: Web pages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
  • Medical information pages: Web pages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
  • Legal information pages: Web pages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
  • News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: web pages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc.

Other: there are many other topics that you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc.

Just a quick glimpse at those niches makes us say – whoa, wait a minute, this is some serious stuff!

Nobody wants to face some sneaky lead generation scheme or product placement when trying to solve some big life issue. And that’s all about – relating to user intent, Google (once again) decided to make the web a trustworthy beacon of information.

In the week of August 1st Google rolled out a “broad core algorithm update.” It’s been called the “Medic update” online, thanks to Barry Schwartz, one of the most creative writers in the SEO industry.

So, why the Medic Update, and what does it mean? Like always, Google hasn’t said anything specific.

In a @searchliaison tweet, they stated “As, with an update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.”

This update came as a reminder that it is not enough to just build great content. It has to fit with the goal of your site, being all about informing, selling products or both. We must say, this is one more step to make website owners more accountable for the content they put up for everybody to read and use.

The Google Medic Update - all about expertise, authority and trust (E-A-T)

stethoscope with heart

E-A-T (another acronym, yay) is, in fact, an obligation to provide users a truly helpful content that comes from trustworthy sources. Expertise, authority, and trust has to be well mixed and served without any bias, affiliate marketing, lead generation or sponsored reviews.

We’ve seen a bunch of health, lifestyle websites becoming less about compelling content than selling a product. Some of them were doing it for a long time, and even built some authority over the years. This means that you could find some great content there, but always mixed up with some obvious (but not disclosed) affiliate marketing and pushing products.

Those are websites that got “hit” by this latest core update. Unbiased facts and details matter, and solving problems matter the most for Google’s users. Google’s latent semantic search became more successful to pick relevant details and facts associated with the main subject of the page.

Google is now looking for facts and evidence in displayed content that backs up and enhances the focus of the page. The day when having certain words and phrases in content would be considered necessary to rank well for a given keyword is slowly coming. We could only give what Google is looking for – great content that solves problems.

And what about user intent?

finger using search engine

We’ve seen this before. We had serious folks in suits broadcasting 8′ clock news back in the days - we still have those (sort of), and a whole new world of infomercials and infotainment. People got confused about what is the right info, who’s pushing who or which product? But you had an option to watch it or not, and nobody asked you what is your real goal and intent.

What Google wanted to do for its users is to show results that better match the intent of the search. In addition to that, they recently updated search quality rater guidelines manual.

The most interesting change in that update was a new section about the “beneficial purpose” of a page. So, the raters would not only look into the quality of the content but also consider whether the page has a beneficial purpose or use to being on the site.

Content That Matches Searcher’s Intent

hands on keyboard of netbook

The idea of the “purpose” of a page ties in with the intent a searcher has for a query. So, if you are searching for a “sunscreen for kids”, you might want to learn more about pros and cons, or some experts viewing on the matter. But if you search for “buy sunscreen for kids” Google would display all relevant sites where you could make an online purchase.

That is why some E-commerce got through the update unharmed, and some of them noticed a boost in traffic. They match the searcher’s intent – they need your product and you can sell it.

Google’s advice to build a website that people want to visit still counts. Make it match people’s search queries and their intent, and you are good to go.