Osteopaths, start E-A-T-ing!

Your Money or Your Life and the Google Medic Update

It’s an old cliché that if you try and diagnose your medical symptoms online you will terrify yourself. Your headache fills all the criteria of a brain tumour, your slight cough suddenly becomes pneumonia, and so on.

Online self-diagnosis: Worry 1 Knowledge 0

Google wanted to stop this and in late 2018 rolled out what is now called the Medic Update. The Medic Update was a large update to Google’s core algorithm aimed at preventing users getting answers to important search queries from quacks and charlatans. The particular searches targeted are known as YMYL (your money or your life) searches, i.e. anything that pertains to your physical health or financial investment. Google wants to make sure that when you make a YMYL search, only advice from qualified and respected professionals will rank well in search results.

E-A-T-ing for Success

Google identified 3 criteria along which they will judge medical websites when deciding how to rank them: Expertise, Authority and Trust, known as E-A-T for short. Websites which demonstrate E-A-T to Google will rank much higher for medical or financial searches than websites which don’t.

Expertise, Authority, Trust

Demonstrating E-A-T to Google isn’t difficult, but if you don’t do it the Google computers may question whether you know what you’re talking about, and rank your pages much lower than they should be. So how do you make sure Google is aware of your E-A-T credentials?

Expertise

Demonstrating expertise is simple – you answer questions and talk about what you do. You probably already have information about what you do on your service pages explaining what osteopaths do, what dry needling is and what problems you can help with. Expanding this further – with blog posts such as “lower back pain treatment”, “do I have RSI” or similar – will demonstrate to Google that you have lots of knowledge on your subject and lots of useful information to share.

Read Google’s own advice on demonstrating expertise here.

Authority

To demonstrate authority, you have to make sure Google knows that you’re a qualified osteopath in private practice, the years of experience you have and your professional affiliations.

Google is smart. It no longer just indexes the words on your page but uses artificial intelligence to “read” your page and figure out things like the subject of the page and the identity of the author. If you mention that you have won an award, have 8 years experience and are physio for the local rugby team, Google reads this, understands it, and adds it all to your authority score.

That means you absolutely must have an about me section (or a dedicated page for every osteopath in your practice) detailing your qualifications and experience. Think of this not as just to show potential patients that you know what you’re doing, but to tell Google why they should take your advice and services seriously. Put as much as you possibly can.

Although it sounds obvious, make sure that Google knows your pages are written by you. So at the end of your article on lower back pain, there is an “about the author” section which reiterates your qualifications and experience with a link through to your main about me page. This is called an Author Bio Box, and if you’re on WordPress there are free plugins to add and customise your bio box.

Plugins like Simple Author Box allow you to quickly add your credentials to all of your posts

Trust

There are two main ways to demonstrate trust to Google. The first is to curate positive reviews from your patients. Google knows that the osteopath with 100 positive reviews is highly trusted, whereas for the osteopath with only a handful of reviews, it’s difficult to know.

The second is to ensure that your address or company details are all featured on your site so that Google knows you are transparent. You can also mention that you are registered with the iO and GOsC, with links to your profiles on both sites, showing Google you’re plugged into the community and regulatory bodies.

Inbound links to your website are also a big trust signal as each link is essentially a “vote” for your advice. As one of the biggest factors in SEO, you should always be curating inbound links to your site.

Summary

  • For YMYL (Your money or your life) searches, Google assesses sites based on E-A-T – Expertise, Authority, Trust.
  • Demonstrate expertise with your articles and advice, and following Google’s own guidelines.
  • Demonstrate authority by listing your credentials on every page that gives advice.
  • Demonstrate trust with positive reviews, business transparency and inbound links.
  • Don’t stop on-page optimisation, citation management and other SEO activities. These are all still important.

More Information

The Medic Update simply destroyed a lot of high-traffic medical websites. This slide from Exposure Ninja shows one website whose traffic dropped by 10 million users a day as a result of the Medic Update. Watch the Exposure Ninja video on E-A-T and the Medic Update.

This website lost 10 million users a day due to the Medic Update

This wasn’t always because these websites gave rogue advice. A lot of the time it was just because they hadn’t made their author credentials clear to Google. This post on the Google SEO forum shows a company that have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to recover from Medic, but not seen their ranking improve.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

About The Author

My name is Chris Dann, I am the founder of Websites for Osteopaths and also provide web and SEO services through my main company Red Balloon Web. When I'm not building websites I enjoy the gym, playing guitar and reading about evolutionary psychology.

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