In August 2018, Google dropped a major update to its ranking algorithm. Coined the medic or YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) update, it targeted low quality blog sites that give potentially harmful information to users.
The core result (hence the medic moniker) was a significant drop in rankings for blogs giving pseudo-expert advice written by people without a professional qualification. Whilst this mainly hit professional services, search visibility fluctuated for most content sites during the period.
EAT Or Starve
To stamp out dangerous content, Google has introduced a level of gatekeeping; uncited sources, unqualified writers or sites without a history of producing valuable content will find it a lot tougher to rank.
According to Google, the factors to consider are:
- The Expertise of the writer;
- The Authoritativeness of the content creator, of the content and of the website overall
- The Trustworthiness of the content creator, of the content and of the website.
So, if you’re writing content you need to demonstrate expertise, authority and trust in everything you do.
Your Old Content Might be Killing You
Due to sitewide factors having a much larger influence on your overall ranking ability, legacy content that may have been harmless before could be having a significant negative effect. As a priority, marketers should look at cataloguing, updating and improving old blogs and articles on your site.
Whilst this may seem like a daunting task if you have a huge backlog of old content, data can inform and streamline the process.
Data Driven Content Cataloguing
Imagine all your blogs, then imagine baskets they could fit in:
- Pages that lost traffic before the Medic update
- Pages that never got traffic
- Pages that have slowly been dropping
- Ones that have been doing well, and continue to do so
Whilst there are a lot more segments you could start to add, the examples above can begin to form the basis of your cataloguing.
Depending on the size of your site, there may be a handful or thousands of pages in each category; if it is the latter then you may need to paint the next step with broader strokes.
Whilst there are hundreds of potential actions that this data could uncover, look at the traditional primary ranking factors such as keyword targeting, cannibalisation and overall main content quality in addition to the ‘EAT’ specific ones we mentioned above.
You will quickly be able to plough through articles, work out what their problem is and how you can create a roadmap to improve them.
It may be that 50 per cent of articles are culled, 25 per cent are merged and the rest are left on their own; a scary thought, as traditionally the more content, the better, but now more content can starve you of vital ranking factors.
Cataloguing is not a new process at Liberty. For years we have taken on content projects where reviewing and improving existing content was identified as a vital early win.
Even prior to the Medic update these improvements would quickly and cost-effectively improve rankings; with the new sitewide factors rearing their head, the process is even more valuable.