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What is the Google Medic Update

On August 1st Google announced with little flare that it release a “broad algorithm” update:

Google has always said it tests and releases hundreds, if not thousands of updates per year. Some have a bigger impact than others. As many bloggers pointed out the week of the release, this particular update was causing a maelstrom of panic from a wide range of sites that took significant haircuts.

It took a couple of days for the bloggers to crunch the data and determine the majority of the sites impacted were what is called YMYL.

What is YMYL?

YMYL stands for “Your Money Your Life” and was first introduced as a concept by Google in their guidelines for quality raters (a group of roughly 10,000 people worldwide who evaluate search results). They specifically say “Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. We call such pages ‘Your Money or Your Life’ pages, or YMYL”. 

Google lists the follow category of websites as examples:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages
  • Financial information pages
  • Medical information pages
  • News articles or official information for having an informed citizenry

Quality is of especially high concern for this category of pages because false or misleading information can cause a lot of harm. 

Medical and Health Sites Impacted the Most

After about a week, bloggers such as Dr. Pete from Moz and Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land, noticed that medical and health sites fared far worse than any other category in YMYL. Some of the biggest losers (as reported by Moz) were:


According to Moz, each of the above showed over a 70% decrease in search result share in the first 7days.

What to do if you’ve been impacted

As with most updates, Google’s official stance is that there is no “fix”.

If you read between the lines of the Google Quality Guidelines a few things stand out, and it can be reasoned if you’ve been impacted, the only way to “recover” is to closely follow these guidelines:

  • Improve the reputation and authority of the site. Google implores its quality raters to “Please do research” on a site’s reputation.
  • Each page should have a purpose for the user and delivers that purpose at a high quality. Quality raters are asked to give each page they review a “Page Quality Score” of lowest, low, medium, high or highest based on criteria such as Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E.A.T.).
  • Clarify who is responsible for the content on your site and make contact information available.
  • Perform a content audit and consolidate pages that fulfill the same purpose. Additionally, understand which queries the page ranks for and make sure those queries meet the specific intent of the user.

Further Reading: