Is the “Medic Update” Affecting Your SEO?

Phil Rothwell is an ecommerce expert with more than 20 years’ experience helping retailers to sell online. He was there at the beginning of ecommerce and played a leading role in growing Actinic Software from dot com start-up to floatation on the London Stock Exchange

You may not be aware of this, but there have been some significant changes in the way that Google is now ranking pages and the quality of your content is more important than ever.

Since the beginning of August 2018, I have started to see an increase in the number of pages that Google is crawling, but not ranking on client websites.

I believe that this is related to the “Medic Update” that Google implemented in August, but I suspect that it has been going on for a much longer.

“Medic” is all about the quality of the content on your website and my advice is to review how this might be affecting your website when you next get the chance.

The new Google Search Console

The new Google Search Console can provide some useful insights with respect to this. The new version not only provides an improved user interface, but also access to 16 months’ data, which is a big bonus.

Browse to the “Coverage” page and click the “Excluded” button. You will see a histogram showing the number of pages on your website that are excluded from the index.

Below the histogram is a list of the reasons why pages have been excluded and the number affected.

Image of list of reasons pages are excluded

Click on the link that says “Crawled – currently not indexed” and you will see a list of the pages that Google is aware of, but is declining to index.

Crawled – currently not indexed?

If, like me, your first inclination is to google what this means, then you will probably end up on this page, where Google says something along the lines of “we can see the page, we just aren’t indexing it yet”.

By looking at the pages that are not indexed and comparing them with pages that are, you can gain some useful insights into how you can improve your SEO.

On sites that I have reviewed, the reasons tend to be: products that are out of stock, content that is too thin or the presence of other pages on the website that are similar the ones being excluded.

All of this points to issues relating to content quality, which has become of increasing importance as a result of the “Medic” update.

Danger Will Robinson, danger!

I do have a few words of caution.

Initially, I made the reasonable assumption that all of the pages categorised as “Crawled – currently not indexed” were not actually indexed. I have come across examples of some that are.

Check this is not the case before you spend/waste time revising your content.

You can do this using using Google Search Console. Place your mouse over the page you want to work on in the list and select the “Inspect URL” option.