Alongside my CBD journey, I also work as a marketing consultant, having worked in the industry for over a decade and being a judge for the EU search awards and the UK agency awards.

One area which is critical for CBD business owners to know about is the Google Medic Update, but I have found most are unaware, therefore I wanted to dive into this subject, to help educate others looking to enhance their rankings on the SERP’s.

What Is The Google Medic Update?

On the 1st August 2018, the Google core update, nicknamed the Medic update, was launched and confirmed by Google.

The roll-out took about a week, with peak changes in the rankings occurring over the 1st and 2nd of August. If your CBD website was around back then, it is worth looking to see if you had a significant jump or drop over those dates on Google Analytics from Google Organic.

Who Did The Google Medic Update Target?

The update effected YMYL websites, which means ‘Your Money, or Your Life’. Basically, if you write content about legal, medical & health or finances, then this could impact your website.

The basis was that people shouldn’t be reading medical advice from Joe’s blog, they should be getting it from a reputable source, with medical qualifications. Google believed that anyone’s ability to rank for this content was dangerous and could affect people’s health or their wallet.

I completely agree with this, however this also meant that many CBD brands were heavily caught in this update and those brands lost their rankings (from speaking to a few, many lost around 80% of their organic traffic and top spot for their own brand name).

Follow-Up Medic Update

On the 3rd June 2019, another Google core update occurred, while many of the brands that were ‘hit’ by the August medic update actually saw a recovery. Just the same, many of the websites that saw growth on that date then returned to their previous rankings.

This core update didn’t completely reverse what happened, but many websites fixed certain issues, while others might have benefitted from it not being so strict.

How Do I Avoid Being Hit?

Google has highlighted a guideline when it comes to producing content, an acronym called EAT. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.

You should think about the content you’re producing and the author of the content. Are they qualified to write about this subject and do they have the appropriate expertise in this field? If so, are you making it clear on the page that this person is qualified?

Is your website an authority on this subject, or have you written about a subject area quite different from your brands strengths?

Are you providing reliable information, or are you posting mistakes, grammatical errors and unsupported data? All of these are key considerations when it comes to EAT.

I have included some recommendations below:

  • Make sure to utilise authors who are highly qualified and knowledgeable in the content area. If you’re writing about financial details, you might want a qualified financial analyst to write on the subject.
  • Make sure to create an author page on your website for the writer and then link through to it from the article. On the author page, you want to demonstrate their credentials, potentially linking out to their LinkedIn page and to the University they gained their qualifications at.
  • Only write about a subject area you’re qualified to write about, don’t get tempted to delve into other subjects, especially if they’re other areas of YMYL.
  • As a CBD brand, you can write about product details, industry news and general advise, but DO NOT offer any form of medical advice. As you will undoubtedly know, this is a legal issue anyway, but this could also see your website flagged by the algorithm and see your rankings drop.
  • If you can’t get someone qualified to write the content, or you’ve already written all the content, you can get someone medically qualified to check the content and then show this on the page that is has been ‘medically reviewed’.
  • You should look to build backlinks from websites within the industry, to show that your website is an authority on the subject. You can also read my guide on link building for CBD brands.
  • Make sure to review and update your content regularly. Google’s algorithm does benefit up-to-date content, so don’t allow your content to go stale.
  • In articles you write, make sure to link out to reputable sources. If you’re making a claim, make it clear this isn’t you stating this, but that it is based on a study or a governmental post. Back up anything you state with hard evidence.

By Tom Bourlet

Being based in Brighton, I have directly witnessed the CBD industry grow and prosper, albeit witnessing the difficulties around legislation and the lack of transparency. I therefore decided to become a neutral viewpoint offering genuine reviews, advice and guidance.

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