Google updates occur when the search algorithm is changed. This search algorithm is what helps determine search ranking and has between 200-300 factors that help determine rank.
This latest update is being called the ‘Medic’ update, mostly because it is having an impact on medical and health related websites. Another major segment that has been affected are what have been dubbed, ‘Your money, your life’ (YMYL) websites.
YMYL is a term that describes websites that can have a major impact on your health and/or financial life. They offer advice about your mortgage, provide legal advice, parenting advice, health advice and any other topic that can have a major, real world impact.
The objective of the update is to make higher quality information more prominent and less quality information less prominent. This is only one factor however, and because this is considered a ‘global’ update, it means that tweaks have been made to most or all of the ranking factors. Thus, improving the quality of your website’s content is definitely a great idea, if you have been affected by the changes, that alone will not fix the loss in rank.
Here’s what Google has to say about the update:
“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year.”
“As with any 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.”
“There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
This does not mean that SEO does not work anymore, nor does it mean that you should sit on your hands and do nothing. The same SEO principles remain true, create great content, presented in a way that creates a good user experience, and focuses on user intent, aka answering their question. Google’s advice is simple, “remain focused on building great content.”