Google Update Weird Results

by Jim August 21, 2018

Since Google’s new Medic update has been causing ranking ripples across Australia, Gary Illyes from Google has been asking for specifics from those claiming to have been affected by the algorithm change. I have sent him data on a few examples that show how Google may be getting a little confused.

What I learned

  • Medic seems to be affecting Australia primarily
  • Google is happy to field complaints – but you need specifics
  • Brand is stronger than domain
  • Out of state results are showing locally
  • Google is getting keyword confusion
  • Have you got too many optimised pages?


Hey, welcome back Rankers. Did you have a good weekend? This Google Medic update, as it’s been so called, is a gift that keeps on giving. I met with a couple of people last week. Hi, Ashley from SEMrush. Certainly, I haven’t heard as much tumult from other regions as what I have from Australian viewers about the results here. In case you’re not up to date with the update from a couple of weeks ago, basically Google said it was applying it to mainly health and finance sites. We found it’s affected two of our clients. One’s in the health space, the other one’s actually in construction.

Local Builders
During the week, Gary Illyes from Google said if you have some specific examples of when your results, since the algorithm change, are not optimal or great, then you should let them know. But as he’s pointed out, he’s getting a little bit grumpy. He has pointed out that without specific query location and why the results suck, he can’t really do anything or provide any information to the search team. The one I’ve provided to him is this search here. I spoke briefly about it last week. This is a search for custom homes. You can see that Google thinks we’re in Melbourne down here, which is great. I’m seeing a lot of exact match domains come in. I don’t think it would be purely on the domain. I think it may have a little bit more to do with brand than, say, domain. I’ll show you what I mean.

The search is “custom homes,” and we’ve got “Melbourne custom builders.” We’ve got “custom homes online.” Then we’ve got this one, “custom homes Queensland.” Now, they’re in Cairns. If you don’t know where Melbourne is in relation to Cairns, Cairns is the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is 3,000 kilometres that way. Not a great result for someone sitting in Melbourne looking for custom homes. Maybe if the search was for … I just wanted to have a look at what they look like, but all the other results there, to me, don’t indicate that people that are searching for that phrase are necessarily looking for pictures of custom homes. We’ve got a custom home builder here and we’ve got, well, same one here, another one here. Another one here. We’ve got this mixture of builders. We’ve got all builders and then we’ve got this one in Far North Queensland. That doesn’t make sense to me. That’s too far away as far I’m concerned and probably as far as the builder’s concerned, as well.

Facelifted Rankings
The next one is “facelift”. This one’s interesting. I’ve seen a couple of examples of strong brands maintaining their ranking in searches related to medical. But then we get ones that have just come in from overseas. I’d have to say, “Is that relevant?” An article from the Mayo Clinic. It’s a dot org, in May of this year. Then we’ve got another one from a magazine in the U.S., presumably. The reason I’m showing you those two results is because, previous to this, it was made up of primarily Australian results. It’s a bit odd. This is even odder here. We’re seeing a lot of official sites, associations, those sorts of things come in with those results, but we’re also seeing weird things. You have a look at this here. We’ve got a plastic surgeon here and then we’ve got “facelift for homes.” I’ve seen an oral surgeon say “facelift rendering.” There’s this confusion as to what the word facelift means, especially from my searches.

I don’t know whether that’s because, in the same browser, I’ve been doing searches for construction-related phrases. “Kitchen facelift center,” “facelift roofing consultant,” “Collins Street plastic surgery.” Google is confused. Never used to be that confused before. For Gary, these searches are being done from Melbourne. The query is face lift as two words, and why the results suck is because they are confused with plastic surgery and also building when it comes to facelift and in the case of custom homes Queensland. I’m sure they’re lovely people in Far North Queensland. Hi, if you’re watching. That’s just not relevant to people doing that search in Melbourne. I haven’t done the search in Far North Queensland, but be interesting to see if they came up there.

Anyway, that’s it for this week’s show. If you’ve had some odd results that you’d like us to have a look at, let us know. Well, Catherine Farris last week asked about her site. It was a medical-related site. The one thing I am looking at now is some of these sites that have dropped out may have had just too many optimised pages, is what I’m looking at now. Pages that were almost just created or content that was created purely to rank for key phrase. Have a look at that. Have a look if you’ve got a lot of that content. That could send a message about trust and expertise if you’re talking about, “Hey, you found the best plastic surgeon in Melbourne,” you know what I mean?

That sort of stuff. Have a look at those sorts of things.

Certainly in the case of Catherine, your site, there was a lot of those sorts of pages. I’d be careful about mixing up medical qualifications with ones that aren’t. I think you know what I mean when we’re talking about the profession that that site is focused on. That’s what I’d be careful with there. Hopefully that’s helpful. If you have a problem you’d like me to have a look at, just shoot it through to [email protected], or just comment on wherever you saw this video. Thanks very much. See you next week. Bye.

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