By Jessica McAndrew

Google has rolled out an update to its search algorithm that underlines the need for great website content to make sure your brand is visible and easily found within Google’s search results.

Since its arrival, it has been nicknamed the Medic Update, because of its impact on medical and health brands’ websites. Anyone involved in online health marketing has to take note.

Google hasn’t commented on how much of search results (SERPs) will be affected by the update (like they did with the legendary Panda and Penguin updates) but they have confirmed this is a “global” update.

Brands and advertisers affected have noted that the latest change has been boosting the rankings of sites with good content and reducing the prominence of those who don’t offer that same usefulness to users. As a digital marketing expert who always bangs the drum about the importance of great content marketing, this makes me happy.

The August 1 update not only affects health and medical sites, but also “Your Money Your Life” (YMYL) type of sites, which tend to ask for signups or money in exchange for information to assist with personal health or finance. Commercial brands seem to have fared better.

Focus on authoritative content

Within days, the SEO monitors at were reporting that their visibility index showed 56 per cent of all large domains had seen a change of more than five per cent, with winners and losers. Sistrix’s analysis was that Google is ranking “certain content better than before”.

This is good news for us. At Only Health, our digital marketing experts focus on creating high-quality, authoritative content on behalf of our clients, which is why we’re already ahead of the curve with this update.

The success of your health marketing message depends on establishing trust with your audience and potential customers. You can’t do that with false or exaggerated content. Your readers have to know you’re speaking truthfully and with expertise. You also have to offer them value in what you place before them. That means informing them about what you do and can do for them in clear, realistic terms, while sticking within the strict guidelines about claims and benefits that control health marketing and advertising.

That’s why we always start a content marketing strategy by exploring and auditing your audience to figure out what they want. Once that’s identified, we start to write authoritative, trustworthy content to build up trust so that they buy into your brand.

Content audience wants

As a result, the sites we run have seen no negative effect from the Medic Update. And, as Google has confirmed that nothing can be done to “fix” a page or site that has dropped in the rankings (other than creating useful content) that demonstrates the value the search engine puts on investing in content your audience wants, needs and trusts.

Google’s advice is: “Remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

There are, of course other actions you should be taking to ensure high quality content is continually added to your site and that your site is optimised from a technical and on-page perspective. We manage countless ongoing optimisation retainers for clients that centre on content but include additional tactics to ensure rankings are consistent.  

If your site’s ranking has been affected by the Medic Update and you need authoritative content created quickly, get in touch. We cover all aspects health communications, from PR to web development to SEO to digital marketing. To speak to the health marketing experts, call us on 0800 612 9890.