Google's latest update targets YMYL sites

Posted on: Thu, 23/08/2018

Google has rolled out another core algorithmic update – this one nicknamed the ‘Medic Update’ – that impacts all Google search results, and evidence suggests the most affected sites are those in the medical/healthcare sector, and the Your Money Your Life (YMYL) sector.

What are YMYL sites?

Sites that require submission of payment details or personal information that may – unscrupulously – be used to deceive you in some way if not honestly and transparently managed.

Specifically, this may include sites that request: 

  • Medical or Financial information
  • Legal information
  • Shopping/online transaction information
  • Information that gives you advice that may affect your health and well-being

Google has a series of strict standards (the QRG) it applies to sites that operate in these sectors, that include assessments of content quality and frequency of updates, the authority of content sources, the veracity of SEO tagging and visibility of contact information.

How does the update affect sites?

Well, while Google have been typically non-specific when asked, experts across the SEO research landscape say that while all sites are affected by the algorithmic update, it’s the sites that sit in the YMYL sector (which is vast and broad) that are most affected.

Sites that are less credible for a number of reasons are being severely marked down by Google, affecting ranking and therefore traffic and potential customers.

At the heart of the update is a far greater emphasis on one thing: E-A-T.

Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust remain absolutely key to establishing not only user trust and therefore greater affininity to particular websites, but simultaneously Google’s trust.

And while Google stick to their rather generic ‘just create great content’ advice, as with almost all updates, this latest roll-out requires a far more urgent and decisive response from owners of sites in this category.

What was the impact of the rollout?

The full impact is yet to become apparent, but researchers have shown countless examples of seismic traffic shifts across a range of sites in this broad sector.

Some sites which had to date experienced stable growth, and are operating legitimate businesses, suffered severe downturns in traffic whereas other less established but no less legitimate business sites grew exponentially.

What were some of the factors that influenced the dip in traffic?

It’s hard to pinpoint all the factors, but some examples suggest:

  • A lack of an ‘About us’ page
  • Information that may be ‘outside’ the conventional medical or financial consensus
  • Selling a health-related product that has tenuous information to validate its quality and effectiveness
  • Misleading meta-data and/or page content
  • Concealed contact information
  • Infrequently updated content

So how can you protect your online business?

The starting point is assessing the E-A-T value your site offers. Ask yourself:

  • Who produces the content for the site and what is their reputation?
  • What is the reputation of the products and/or services you sell?
  • How positive an impact does your product or service have on the health and welbeing of a potential customer?
  • How accurate and honest are the keywords and other meta-data you’re using to describe your site?
  • How frequently is the site updated and edited to ensure high standards?

The more honestly and positively you can answer these questions, the more likely you’ll achieve and/or maintain a credible rating from Google, and therefore rank higher in SERP.

And remember that credible content – whether from a highly-qualified expert or an everyday expert who simply writes with honesty and well-founded and verified experience – is the key to success.

For an assessment of your website’s ranking, content quality and SEO, contact Realnet today on +1223 55 08 00.

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Google's latest update targets YMYL sites
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