Google’s August Algorithm Update – Who Did it Affect and How Much?

If you’re not fully-versed in the secret arts of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), then you probably didn’t know that on 1st August 2018, Google updated its core algorithm that it uses to rank websites, including yours! A significant algorithm update is usually followed by fluctuations in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This can range from minor to major, panic inducing drops in your search rankings.

In an effort to help you combat this, we’ve gathered all the information we can, including some official information from the tech giants themselves, as well as some non-official insights from experts across the industry. 

Who Did the New Update Affect?

As of 8th August, Google confirmed that the new update, nicknamed the Medic Update, has been fully rolled out. Google has called this a broad, global, core update.

However; much of the early analysis seemed to show that the update focused primarily on health and medical sites. But it seems that other sites besides those were also affected by the update.

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed that this is a “global” rollout and impacts all Google searches, no matter on the language or region, however; Google wouldn’t confirm how much of the search results were affected by the update as they have done in the past with updates. 

How Much Could I have Been Affected?

The Google Search Algorithm uses somewhere between 200 and 500 ranking factors and signals to determine page ranking.

A core updates means that Google has slightly altered the importance of some, or all these signals to provide the end user with the most valuable information.

The simplest way to visualise how this would work would be to imagine 200 ranking factors in order of their importance. Now imagine that google has changed the order of 56 of those factors. Rankings would fluctuate, but it would be down to any number of changes in the algorithm, not just one specific change. Here is a completely made up example of what Google won’t tell us:

"In this update, we increased the value of keywords in the meta description by 1.3%, decreased the value of the keyword in the H1 tag by 9% and changed the D value in our PageRank calculation from .85 to .80.”

We promise these are real things, we just don’t know how or even if they’re being used by Google. 

How Can I Recover from a Google Broad Core Update?

Unlike major named updates, a Google broad core update may alter every value Google uses.

Because your website is weighed against others relevant to your query, it’s entirely possible that the reason your site dropped in the rankings has nothing to do with someone else’s increased or decreased rankings.

Because the methods of “recovering” are likely to be very different for every website and every query, Google can’t tell you how to recover. It’s totally dependant on what everyone else trying to rank for your query is doing. Does every one of the sites relevant to your query but yours have the keyword in the H1 tag? This might be why your rankings have dropped.

It’s also likely that this algorithm update hasn’t penalised you at all and it has just rewarded another website more for another ranking factor you may not have considered. You might have been smashing it with your internal anchor text while your competitors were doing a great job formatting their content to match user intent – and Google shifted the balance so internal anchor text was slightly lower in the list of factors than content formatting (again, all hypothetical examples). However; the most likely scenario is that several minor tweaks were made that, when combined, tipped the scales.

We recommend focusing on the following to keep on top of conquering core updates:

Here at Ascensor, we don’t stop there though. We know that once we’ve reached that fabled number 1 position, the website occupying 2nd place is gunning for that spot. We keep monitoring, improving and researching best practice and new tactics to keep you there. Contact us today to see how we can help you beat the update and get your SEO working for you!

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