Every business needs to be concerned by the reputation of publishers it advertises with. It goes beyond brand safety and touches the core foundations of modern SEO. Indeed the cute metrics that a website shows about itself and its wealthy audience, my look substantially different when viewed through the eyes of a quality reviewer that takes a more critical view.
The latest updates from Google left a clear trail:
In August 2018, the Google Medic update was rolled out. Analysts looked at a variety of sites by using external research tools – which led them to agree on something important: That this was essentially an effort to clean up the web on two fronts. Firstly, to tackle websites that give out medical information where authors themselves are not medical experts, judging by their credentials. Secondly, it also took care of the problems created by “YMYL” type websites, known as your money your life.
Now, in January 2019, advertisers are looking back to see the full impact of the GoogleMedic update. A clearer picture emerges of the publishers that got penalized by Google.
Google EAT, Medic and YMYL:
Google wants to ensure that the public does not access harmful information that can induce poor health or financial decisions. One way in which thousands of manual reviewers who work for the company can evaluate the legitimacy or weight of the information presented by a website, is to evaluate the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust) of a writer. When medical sites or YMYL sites see rapid traffic drops, especially from August 2018 – when this happened to Entrepreneur.com and others, it can often be traced back to authors who give advise on serious issues that can affect your health or financial position, but with a low EAT rating.
The consensus from expert analysis seems to be this: If a Google reviewer finds a website where someone unqualified gives out advise on a health or YMYL topic, then the site will probably experience a huge traffic loss once a reviewer flags the site.
Whilst in this example, Entrepreneur.com was picked to demonstrate the case, it is by no means the only website that was affected – there were others too. Yet at the same time, Healthline.com – which carries a high EAT rating on it’s author profiles, saw a sharp increase in traffic levels.
So did the Google Medic update strike Entrepreneur.com?
When using external research tools, such as the ones experts make use of in the course digital marketing research, we can see clearly that Entrepreneur.com lost in excess of one million visitors over the period in question. This is not to say that it was a Medic update for sure, yet the fact that it occurred around that time period, raises a question – and increases the probability that the loss in traffic may well have been over EAT related concerns.
What we can tell from indexed content on Entrepreneur.com
The above snippet below shows where authors who do not show any medical credentials, write about the supposed health benefits of certain substances – and then linking to highly commercial websites as “authority” links simply because the companies had sponsored an infographic. In fact, the Linkedin profile for Rose Leadem shows that the author is a “Marketing and Gallery Assistant” at Fergus McCaffrey, Inc.
Freelancers selling Entrepreneur.com guest posts on the web:
Whereas the advertising division at Entrepreneur operate a minimum requirement of $10K to run a native content campaign, or non-indexed spotlight campaign – it may well be that the website is undercut by a click of writers. “PrinceM”, for example, seems to be an intermediary who collect payments of around $1000. In exchange for this, he offers a specific service. He is nowhere to be found as an Entrepreneur author, or a worker for the company – yet the freelancing platform operated by Xenios Thrasyvoulou, a Greek business owner, shows plenty of satisfied customers leaving reviews about this service.
Conclusion about Entrepreneur.com
In the case of Entrepreneur.com, we cannot say for sure whether they were affected by a Google Penalty. Yet the data shows that the site lost significant traffic volumes at the time of the supposed algorithmic update. Something that no SEO specialist can fix overnight. We clearly see that a non-medical profile is potentially giving advise on the use of medical substances. It also shows that someone is selling content that is supposed to be labelled as “sponsored” with a NO-Follow link with a different trick: not marking it as sponsored – and organizing a DO-Follow link. If this was not the Google medic update – well, then it may be the most lenient algorithmic update Google ever released.
Final scoop: Advertisers have a legitimate concern:
Should they ask sites that were affected by the Google Medic update to remove links? Or should those links be disavowed? Is it safe for a brand to advertise with a website that actually got hit by this update? These are just some of the legitimate concerns raised by advertisers. The days that Google got fooled by fake news providers are over. In an era where “marked as sponsored” and “nofollow” are directives we receive from Google, it is time that publishers start acting seriously to comply.