This website in the healthcare niche was hit badly by Google’s “Medic’ update on 1st August. To our astonishment, this website saw massive results & quick recovery after removing the Google auto-translate plugin and rating schema from their translated pages.
On 1st August 2018, Google released a major algorithmic update, the Medic update that took down medical websites like Tsunami. Till date, many websites particularly in the health niche, are trying to recover their traffic back.
A greek, physician review website doctor anytime.gr, experienced a shocking blow from this update. It was a real stress test for the business. The staff was kind to share their insights and methodology to help the community.
This website allows patients to find information about doctors & specialists, view verified reviews from other patients and schedule a FREE appointment with whom they wish and trust after reading the reviews.
Before Medic Update
Since 2015, they were working systematically on their SEO and took great pride in their progress. Until one day everything changed.
After Medic Update
The medic update rolled out on August 1st came hard on medical websites! Although, the logic behind the update to is reassure a safe journey on sensitive topics like health and finance.
This calls for exercising an extra caution in influencing users into purchasing products or services they never really intended to buy. When it comes to SEO, Your main objective should be to re-establish your E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) according to Google’s new standards.
However, after a month, the results were disheartening. The website lost 50% of the organic traffic:
August vs. July Traffic Analysis
- 72% decline in the blog traffic, including the health articles and guest blog posts.
- 44% decline in traffic to the content pages with information on health and medical topics.
- 47% drop in the traffic to the listing pages of physicians and clinics.
- 47% drop in traffic to physicians private pages.
- On average there was a drop of 5% in the SERPs
* percentages are counted in sessions; seasonality is included
Focus on User Intent
Focus on the user intent we wanted to appear for in the search results.
- Know: Pure content with health information about a specific medical condition with as fewer promotional destruction as possible.
- Do: Listing pages especially focused on the particular medical condition
After a lot of research and going through the Google Quality Reviews Guide thoroughly, three key elements were selected to solve the problem.
Update structured data and metadata
What they did to recover from medic:
- Checked all the structured data once again, applied all the relevant schemas and removed as many warnings as possible.
- In addition to language targeting hreflangs, language-country targeting and the x-default, according to Google’s guidelines were also added.
- In the sitemaps, only the main language was indexed.
Google auto-translate plugin
The website was using Google auto-translate plugin, as a temporary solution after releasing the 2nd language version of the website. On Oct. 19, the plugin because was removed as it was believed to believed to interfere with the crawlers. What a diabolic coincidence that Marie Haynes tweeted this just a few days after the successful recovery from the ‘medic update’.
There is a nice discussion going on and John Muller has also joined so you may want to check it out.
They never thought that it could be signalled as spam to Google. As they had already “rel=canonical” were used and there were no signs of those pages being indexed either. In any case, this was one of the most effective changes made to the website.
Many online SEO tools were triggered once again on the 26th of November, 2018. It was also believed that it was the “Thanksgiving update” which accelerated the recovery process.
The website was back on the SERPs successfully and the performance was better than ever before. It could have been the rollback update but from our point of view, the decision to focus on user search intent and accordingly separate the pages did the magic for this website in the medical niche.
Even if you recover your medical practice website after the medic update, you need to continue working in the same direction. Despite the rollercoaster behaviours of the Google Algorithm, the E-A-T works best for SEO.
This case study does not imply that the tactics used above will work for every website as every website is different. The idea is to make your website stronger, safer and more enhanced user experience to win and retain Google’s Trust.