Episode 53 / August 10, 2018

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Welcome to The Redirect Podcast, where the BlackTruck team shares recent insights and takeaways from the world of search marketing.

In this week’s episode:

  • The latest Google Algorithm update, dubbed the Google “Medic” update, has fully rolled out. This is a broad, core, global algorithm update that has impacted healthcare and YMYL-type sites, or sites dealing with “your money, your life.” In this episode, we talk about the current elements that are known and confirmed by Google, along with other industry speculation (begins at 1:00).
  • More changes for those operating within the Google Ads (formerly AdWords) space. Responsive text ads in search, announced earlier this year, will be available to more accounts in the coming months. However, the benefit of expanded headlines and descriptions are being rolled out to all text ads by the end of this month (begins at 13:13).

Google Broad Core Algorithm Update

It has been a couple of weeks since we were able to really jump in and cover what’s been going on in the world of search. Since then, there was a major Google algorithm update on August 1st—One that Google’s Danny Sullivan said would roll out by the middle of the first week in August (last week), with a goal of improving the overall quality of search results. We saw early speculation that this update was directly connected to Google’s recent changes to their Quality Rater Guidelines we discussed on Episode 52 last week.

In typical fashion, there were quite a few SEOs who freaked out at the update. Now, we’re not suggesting there wasn’t a series of ranking drops or improvements that happened as a result, but as a general reminder and rule of thumb around here…DON’T FREAK OUT. Instead, take note of the changes over the course of the next couple of weeks. It could take that long (or longer) for the dust to really settle.

Nicknamed the Medic Update, there has been a lot of chatter in the industry. Both official and non-official information is being shared.

What we know:

  • Core search algorithm update on August 1st is fully rolled out.
  • It is a broad, global, core algorithm update.
  • Focus appears to be on health and medical, based on who has seen the most impact.
  • Your Money Your Life (YMYL) type sites—those that, as Google puts it, can impact your current or future well-being (physical, financial, safety, etc.) In other words… life, death, and your future.
  • It has been confirmed that the algorithm update is fully rolled out as of this week.

Marie Haynes wrote an article on the update in terms of YMYL: “I believe that what we are seeing here is the effect of Google finding new ways to evaluate YMYL sites in terms of safety and trust.

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable coined it the “Medic” update because he found that while many different types of sites were affected by the update, it seemed to disproportionately affect sites in the medical, health, fitness, and healthy living industries. He shared an analysis on who was affected, and how much, at Search Engine Land.

Dr. Pete at Moz also wrote an analysis following the first week of the Medic update that agrees the health vertical did have the most volatility, but that all other categories seemed to be affected somehow, according to the MozCast system.

Danny Sullivan tweeted some familiar advice for those looking to recover:


Google Extends Character Limits in Text Ads

Google has announced that advertisers will soon be able to add a third headline and a second, longer description to their text ads. Read more from Ginny Marvin at Search Engine Land.

Previous character limits:

Headline 1: 30 characters

Headline 2: 30 characters

Description: 80 characters

Expanded character limits:

Headline 1: 30 characters

Headline 2: 30 characters

Headline 3: 30 characters

Description 1: 90 characters

Description 2: 90 characters

Patrick discussed this a few months ago with Google’s testing of responsive search ads, which will be rolled out to more accounts in the coming months, but this is now coming to ALL text ads by the end of the month. Patrick predicts that this us an attempt to create a result that looks something like a featured snippet, guided by the creator. He asks, “Is this an attempt by Google to understand the page/product better to guide their organic search results?” (To be clear, organic search and PPC do not directly influence each other, as Jason explains in the podcast.)

The implications of these expanded ads will not be known until they are rolled out and we see how they are adopted and displayed. Patrick suspects that update this will be a larger deal than what is quietly being rolled out. At the very least, what we do know is that Google’s search ads will soon be taking up even more real estate on results pages.

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