Google Shocks the SEO World with New “Medic” Core Algorithm Update

 

…Oh those stinkers at Google. They did it again!

At least they’re laying off cute animal names (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) this time.

So what ace did they pull out of their sleeves now?

Learn more about the “Medic” update:

Health, Medical, and YMYL Sites Pay Attention

Google doesn’t target niches too often. Especially with core algorithm updates. So it’s noteworthy when they do.

Because something must really be bothering them if they decided to take action.

First, what is a YMYL site? Well, it does one or more of the following:

  1. Asks for personal identification numbers like your banking info
  2. Allows you to perform a monetary transaction with a credit card number or any other payment mechanism
  3. Offers medical or health information that could affect your mental or physical well-being
  4. Gives advice on a major life decision like buying a home or car, or parenting
  5. Offers advice on a major financial issue

The core result of Google’s actions has been to reward the top-quality content in this niche with the highest rankings. Apparently, they felt some sites in this niche were under-rewarded. 

And for those sites who fell, it’s not that their content was “bad.” It’s been “less good” than top-performing content in those niches.

These sites saw around a 33-50% drop in their overall rankings:

…While these sites saw a 33-50% gain in their search rankings:

So, it’s a matter of studying what their content does well. And what it stinks at.

Then, you simply imitate the winners.

Surprise, Surprise! Quality Content Wins the Day!

If you’ve paid any attention to SEO for the last 5 years, you shouldn’t be the slightest bit shocked.

Now, you certainly had no way to know Google would target health, medical, and financial websites.

But, you’ve certainly hear Google (and us) talk endlessly about driving your content quality through the roof.

Remember, “quality content” refers to what your market finds the most valuable. And they tell you that through these metrics:

  1. Bounce rate (the number of people who visit a certain page on your website once, and then leave permanently)
  2. Time spent on-page
  3. Social shares
  4. Page visits
  5. Email unsubscribe rate
  6. Email click rate
  7. Email list size

These metrics tell you other things too. They don’t necessarily only reflect content quality. But, they do offer some indication of the quality of your content.

That’s the great thing about the web. You can learn exactly what your audience wants over time – without them ever speaking a word to you.

So anyway, there’s your lesson for the day. Google’s cleaning up the web. And it’s becoming a more useful place every day.

Now it’s up to you to do the best job you can of serving your audience.

2 Simple SEO Opportunities You’re Overlooking Right Now

 

Truthfully, SEO requires endless ongoing work. You can spend your entire working year on SEO only.

So, that means you always have abundant opportunity for growth. And somehow, you have to focus on the opportunities that can make the most difference for you now.

Here’s another couple ideas to focus your (or your SEO team’s) energy on:

1. Get as Many Reviews as Possible

This could mean Google reviews for your company’s listing when you appear in search. It could also be for specific products as they get listed in search. And you’ll also want reviews all over your website.

Third-party data like this not only boosts your search rankings and your visibility in search, but it also convinces people who don’t know you well yet.

What’s more credible than honest, objective opinions from people who have experienced your product or service?

Worried about negative reviews?

Don’t be.

You can transform them into amazing customer service stories. Simply resolve the issue publicly so other potential customers can see you’ll fix things when they go wrong.

That builds an incredible amount of confidence.

Don’t manipulate your reviews. Follow up purchases and service experiences by email with a link that allows customers to leave honest reviews.

2. Use Customer-Generated Photos

Don’t these frequently look odd and “unprofessional?”

Yes!

…But that doesn’t matter.

Customers don’t want a professional experience on your website that’s completely controlled by your company.

That reeks of bias and lack of objectivity.

Of course, they want your site to look organized and like you care.

But they also want to understand what it’s like to actually experience your product or service.

And posting customer photos makes that far more real and authentic than any expensive professional photo or costly stock image.

Yotpo increased sales by 24% by adding customer-generated photos to their site.

From the SEO side, include phrases that accurately describe what’s happening in the photo using natural language (in the image’s alt text).

This gets you search engine exposure. And then when customers click over to your site and see that photo (instead of an odd, professional, and clearly staged photo like nearly every other business has), you have a far greater chance of winning their business.

Yes. SEO gets creative like this today. And every little edge you can get – the better off you are.

Google Increases Meta Descriptions to 320 Characters – Why Care?

Yep. Another Google change.

This time they increased the length of your pages’ meta description. Strangely enough, this only has a small indirect effect on your rankings.

For clarification, meta descriptions now look like this:

And for once, this change doesn’t have much of an effect on your search rankings.

But smart SEOs and SMBs can still capitalize in significant ways.

Why Should You Care about the Length of Your Meta Description?

So if your meta description’s length doesn’t affect your search rankings, why should you care about it at all?

…Because it’s another opportunity to win more clicks (and sales too). A higher click-through rate for your page does improve your search rankings.

It’s not a huge factor. But it is one nonetheless.

The bigger (and even hidden) opportunity lies in your meta description’s ability to drive more qualified customers to your website.

You can’t jam much value into 160 characters.

But 320 is more than enough.

So, you have more room to include benefits, product and service differentiation, and attractive features about your company (like no contracts, same-day service, limited time offers, or whatever you have).

You can also add another relevant search phrase or two that your customers might use. The keyword they enter, along with closely related terms, appear in bold.

Searchers click listings with their bolded terms more frequently also.

Should You Change All Your Meta Descriptions?

…You don’t need to.

At a minimum, you should at least revisit the meta descriptions for your highest-trafficked web pages.

Make sure they include the primary keyword you target, and possibly a closely related term or two.

Include all the most powerful benefits, differentiation, and product and service features that light customers’ eyes up when considering whether to purchase.

If that doesn’t fill all 320 characters up, no big deal! A long meta description does you no good. But a value-packed one does.

Then, as you have time, work your way down to the pages on your website with the lowest traffic.

You may even ignore your lower traffic pages if you don’t have the time or the money to spend.

Not a Huge Change, But One Smart SEOs and Companies Pay Attention To

In the grand scheme of search, this isn’t a monstrous change.

But, most companies likely won’t prioritize updating their meta descriptions because they exclusively focus on search rankings and know this won’t help them much in that regard.

That means this can be your opportunity to be more persuasive and snatch more customers.

Just like in any other profession, the most successful do all the little things right.

Google’s John Mueller Reveals New Info about the Mobile-First Index

Google’s mobile-first index doesn’t quite work like you think.

At first, you’d think maybe it shows search results different for mobile users. After all, they search differently and want different things than desktop searchers.

But that’s not how the mobile-first index works.

Rather, it means that the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for how Google determines your rankings. If you don’t have a mobile site, you can still actually rank in the mobile-first index. But, if you provide a better mobile experience than other websites, you get a rankings boost (even for desktop searchers).

So simply think of the mobile version of your website as the primary version. And if it’s the only version you have, that’s fine.

Until now, Google looked at the desktop version of your website as the primary one. So going forward, that means it makes sense to cater to mobile users as much as possible.

Google does this because they’re a smart, publicly-traded company who understands how to cater to the market. At least 60% of all searches now happen on mobile devices.

So if you want to stay the #1 search engine, it simply makes good business sense to show websites that serve mobile searchers best.

What Google’s John Mueller Shared about the Mobile-First Index

Anyway, with all that background info in mind, here’s what Google spokesperson John Mueller had to say about the mobile-first index:

  1. Google Will Notify You in Its Search Console When You Get Moved to This Index

No surprises. No guesses. Google will let you know when you’re in.

  1. Ready Sites Get Moved First

If your site is optimized for mobile users, it goes to this index first. That’s potentially a nice rankings advantage.

  1. Code Remains Important

Google will no longer look at the desktop index. Sometimes, code differs between a mobile and desktop index. And, that code can be important to your rankings.

So it’s essential your SEO and developer understands to include those code snippets that help your site rank.

  1. Better to Have a Good Desktop Site Than a Bad Mobile One

Should you panic at the sound of this news and slam out a mobile-ready site, complete with mistakes and cut corners?

Nope!

John Mueller says to cater to the overall user experience first.

Just like all Google updates, this one is a big deal…but it isn’t.

It will cause change.

But if you pay any attention to the market, and what Google’s doing, it comes as no surprise.

And it shouldn’t catch you off guard.

At the same time, you’re wise to be aware and fine-tune your website for the best searcher experience so you stay as high as possible in the rankings.

How to Turn Your Visitors into Repeat Visitors – And Customers

How does business on the web work?

Why do random web visitors turn into customers?

…And why don’t they?

Business, sometimes, can be a mysterious thing. You don’t always know why consumers choose to do what they do.

But we can assure you that you’ll turn more into repeat visitors and customers when you focus on the following:

  1. Be the Most Valuable Resource in Your Niche

Consumers bookmark, share, subscribe to newsletters, and come back to websites that solve their problems. If they’re not ready to buy now, they’ll at least remember you for quite some time.

…And then if they have a problem you solve, they’ll contact you because they know, like, and trust you.

This cycle may take 3, 6, or 9 months – or maybe even a full year or two.

And to keep their attention, you gotta build your relationship with them. You do that by offering incredible value they can’t get anywhere else.

Most blogs give just the basics.

But if you’re an experienced professional, you know some things many others don’t. Share those insights on your blog so readers have a reason to stick with you instead of the other guys.

Don’t hide your best stuff!

Put it out there. Because when people learn something new, they get interested.

Yes, your competitors might read your blog. But still, they can’t just grab your experience and become you overnight. You can’t fake that.

Trust us – you’ll be okay sharing even your trade secrets on your blog.

  1. Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate

On your home page, about page, and services pages (aka all your “sales pages”), focus almost all your time differentiating your company from the hundreds of others who do exactly the same thing.

What if you look at your company and find yourself basically the same as dozens of others?

Spend time and money on creating differentiation.

New and different businesses always attract a boat-load of attention.

And then focus your time on explaining why your difference matters.

This gives your market a good reason to go with you – rather than another company who simply offers a limited time discount.

You’ll also be able to charge higher prices and keep customers longer.

Now Go Out There and Win the Attention You Deserve!

No matter how successful your business is, sticking to these two principles puts you in a winning position – or solidifies it that much more.

So ponder them, research examples, and figure out how you can apply both to your business.

 

When Optimizing Google Ads for Quality Score Doesn’t Make Sense

Quality Score.

It’s Google’s way of determining the ranking position and cost per click of your PPC ads.

Quality score can be a step in helping you achieve your business goals. But sometimes, it doesn’t always work in your best interests.

Remember, Google makes most of its money from its ads. Last year, they raked in $95.38 billion of their $110.9 billion in total revenue (86%) from their ads.

While Google has done a superb job of perfecting how Quality Score works so it gives searchers the best experience, this hasn’t necessarily led to making it easier for you to drive real business results. For example, you might look at ROI, leads generated, revenue generated, and so on.

So if you set your sights on perfecting your Quality Score, you can actually sometimes also be shooting your business results in the foot. For example, it does happen in campaigns where you increase CTR (click through rate), which also increases your quality score. However, conversions may not increase.

So, you’ve just increased your costs – with no associated increase in your sales.

The Best Uses of Quality Score

One helpful way to look at your Quality Score lies in its relationship to your keywords. Let’s say one of your keywords generates a high number of total conversions. However, it has a lower rate and lower Quality Score. In this case, you’ll more than likely improve your conversion rate by also improving your Quality score.

You might also find your Quality Score so low that you don’t get any real business results from certain keywords. In this case also, it makes sense to focus your time and effort on improving your Quality Score.

Clearly, experience and professional judgment play a role here. If you don’t have much of either, how can you know the relationship between Quality Score and the business metric you’re looking at, and whether you should focus on Quality Score or not?

 

You Don’t Need to Fear Quality Score

Despite Quality Score’s imperfections, it’s not something to be ignored. It simply shouldn’t be the measure of success. It shouldn’t be your goal.

Your business goals should be written down. And Quality Score should be seen as a step on your journey to online advertising success.

As long as you keep that perspective, you’ll do just fine in your PPC campaigns.