My thoughts on the August 1, 2018 Google Algorithm Update

Marie Haynes

Source: mariehaynes.com

I have been covering algorithm updates for a long time and this is one of the biggest updates that I can recall. It is important to note that most sites that I monitor did notsee any significant changes. However, the majority of those that did see changes were very strongly affected.

This algorithm update appears to have affected both the organic search results and the local results (i.e. maps listings.) I initially had wondered if the local changes were just reflecting the differences in organic, as organic rankings are likely a factor in where Google places you locally. However, as local SEO expert Joy Hawkins has pointed out, this does not appear to be the case. This really does look like a change to both of the organic and local ranking algorithms.

Note: While this article focuses on mainly the effects of this update on YMYL sites, it looks like it is much broader than just that. There is a local component, and also some sites that are not YMYL are affected as well. 

Added August 8: Barry Schwartz has coined this the Medic Update as a large number of sites in medical niches were affected. But please know that this update does expand outside of those verticals.

Early observations

Usually when I write a post about a big algorithm update, I wait for a couple of weeks to pass so that I can fully investigate. However, in this case, I am getting so many emails that I wanted to have my thoughts in an article quickly. The fact that I’m getting this many emails tells us that this is an update with huge impact. The influx of emails is at least five times as many as we received for the March 9 update and that was a huge update as well.

Here are my early observations:

  • This update has mostly affected YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites.
  • Many sites in the diet, nutrition and medical device niches were greatly affected.
  • Many large changes with multiple locations across the country appear to have dropped in rankings in favor of smaller, locally based businesses.

I’ll explain these in greater detail later in this article.

What we know so far

Google does not always announce that they have made an algorithm update. However, this time they have. Danny Sullivan, using the Search Liaison twitter account tweeted the following, which essentially just told us that this was a similar update to the March 9 Google update:

Search Liaison Aug 1

When asked how a site could recover from being negatively affected by this update, Danny gave the usual Googley answer of “just create great content”. He pointed out that the Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG) are a great guide to help us determine what Google considers to be high quality. I was thrilled to see that Danny quoted a tweet of mine as an example of how a site can see improvements after implementing changes based on the QRG:


For this particular site, we had done a site quality review and had recommended a number of changes. The most important changes though were in how this site demonstrated their E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust) and also in improved internal linking. With a couple of months of instituting changes, they jumped from page 2-3 for their main terms to top three rankings for most of them.

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