The Google March 2019 Update: How It Affected Wellness Sites [Brief Summary]

The Google March 2019 Update: How It Affected Wellness Sites [Brief Summary]

2019-05-10 21:05:54 | Melissa Little | healthcare marketing,website

Something happened to your website in March and, for many, it wasn’t great.

Last month, Google announced they implemented their March 2019 Google Core Update which instantly affected tons of health-related websites (among others). The size of the site didn’t matter; for example, everydayhealth.com and verywellhealth.com each lost half of their SEO Visibility in the weeks after the Google Update. You read that right – half.

But at the same time, other health websites actually improved. Maybe your site is one of the lucky ones who saw an uptick in traffic in the last month. Either way, we’re breaking down the update and providing a few action items for you to consider.

What (probably) happened during the March 2019 Google Core Update?

We can’t say for sure the exact changes Google made in their algorithm, but we do have confirmation from the Google liaison’s Twitter that an update happened this past March and sometime in 2018.

According to this article, Google’s March Core Update seems to favor websites that are able to provide users with a high level of trust, particularly when users are searching sensitive keywords that lead them to content that can affect their health, happiness, safety, or financial stability (also known as YMYL pages).

What Google seems to be looking for are websites that have these YMYL pages, a strong brand profile, and a wide-ranging topical focus.

As a result, it appears health sites with more of a niche focus have seen rankings fall. The theory is that Google views the broad topic sites as more “expert” than some of these niche health sites, so they get pushed further down the line.

Below you can see how everydayhealth.com and verywellhealth.com had good SEO visibility that took a sharp drop the day of the update. Conversely, draxe.com’s SEO visibility improved the day of the update.

Verywellhealth.com and everydayhealth.com are both focused on health—and while they cover a lot of topics within human health, they don’t really branch out to other relevant topics like draxe.com does. Draxe.com covers health, recipes, essential oils, fitness, DIY recipes, and more. The fact that its SEO visibility increased after the update seems to support the theory that the March Google Update helped health sites with a broader focus.

march google core update

Screenshot Source: blog.searchmetrics.com

3 ways to improve your health site’s ranking in light of this update:

Per the usual, Google’s update is encouraging websites to ‘better themselves’. Here are three general rules to follow for a high quality site and to secure your site’s visibility in the face of this most recent update.

1. Remove low-quality content

You should be avoiding low-quality content anyways, but consider this an opportunity to go through your site’s landing pages and blog posts and clean them up or re-optimize. This Google Update is stricter on the duplicate content and content that has been rewritten—it’s likely affecting the authority of your website, which means it’s getting bumped down the rankings.

2. Make your website secure

Health websites must be secure – especially if you’re collecting visitor information. Google now shows the “non-HTTPS” websites as “insecure” and because it appears that Google is placing high value in trust, it’s extra important that your site appears secure and trust-worthy for searchers.

Example of what an insecure/non-HTTPS website URL looks like, compared to a secure URL:

unsecure url example

secure url example

3. Publish content consistently

It’s a good practice in general, but in this case consistency can save your site. Publishing valuable content regularly on your health website will help you to survive this update and hold on to (or improve) your fallen rankings.

How would your revenue grow if you had a website that converts? Implement these ideas to enhance your website and increase your site’s resilience against future Google updates.

Download our free Wellness Website Checklist* and use it to make simple changes to your current website that get customers to start converting today.

*It’s not magic, it’s just science. And by science, we mean marketing-backed tactics that improve the sh*t out of your SEO.