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GOOGLE’S MEDIC UPDATE

Do you know how Google’s latest update might impact your business website? 

Google updates its algorithm around 500 to 600 times a year but every now and then Google carries out a major update. On August 1, Google implemented a major update to their core algorithm. The major update, nicknamed the Medic Update, is now fully rolled out across the globe. So what has been the impact?

Google doesn’t often provide details on their updates – they don’t want to give SEO experts tips on how to ‘cheat’ the search engine so they can ensure the sites they manage will jump the rankings for top spot visibility – but it always re-iterates that the overhaul is due to the need for quality, relevant content and to ensure a good user experience (UX).

However, post roll out, SEO experts furiously analyse changes in website performance. The general consensus is that with this update, there appears to have been a focus on health and medical sites. However, being a broad core update, it has impacted a number of sites across a variety of industries. In the pest control industry, most of the sites we manage have seen no impact, although we have noted one site has observed a slight increase in rankings while another has had a slight decrease.

Whenever there is a Google algorithm update, the first thing you should do is to actually do nothing at all – at least for the first two weeks. Even if your site’s rankings drop, it is not uncommon for them to bounce right back up a few days later. However, if they do remain down, it’s worth keeping an eye on what the online experts are saying, especially if you manage your own SEO.

In this case, it appears that many of the sites that took a hit had poorer quality content, lower keyword density and weaker back link profiles. For those who understand SEO, there is no real surprise here, these are all areas known to have an impact on organic rankings. However, remember SEO is competitive, so if your site ‘drops’ in rankings, it does not necessarily mean your site is lacking, it’s just that your competitor’s site may be better… in the eyes of Google. The Google updates may cause sites to be analysed and rated differently. The bottom line is to stick to the principles of quality SEO and do it better than your competition.

Google’s tips for good website content

Although we can discuss the technical aspects of SEO, which are indeed important in improving organic rankings, there are some general themes that should guide good website management.

The first is to ensure that you create website content that is interesting and useful. Don’t write content that you think will ‘trick’ Google, write content that your readers will want to read and become engaged in. And keep updating it so that it remains relevant. Google’s algorithm is very sophisticated and will easily pick up pages that are packed with random keywords or those that stay static and fail to refresh content. If you write interesting content, visitors will stay on your site longer and explore your site further – important cues for Google that you have an engaging and user-friendly site. Of course, another plus is that the more useful your site, the more likely your visitors will contact you for a service.

Use links wisely, both internal and external links. It is important to consider the anchor text also (the text you click on). Depending on what keywords you are trying to rank, a phrase (long tailed keywords) may provide a better result than just a single keyword. A long-tail keyword is a specific phrase that contains three or more words, for example: a general keyword could be ‘bugs’, while a long tail keyword would be ‘how to get rid of bed bugs’.

Another important tip is to ensure that your site and your content is mobile friendly. With more and more visitors viewing sites on mobile devices than on desktops, Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means your mobile site becomes the starting point for Google when assessing your website performance.

Phil Ridley, Director, Bug Doctor Media

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