Stay current on best practices so your site can still rank!

Google updates its algorithms continually, and these updates aren’t always announced. After all, the point of keeping their search engine inner workings under wraps is to prevent websites from trying to cheat the system.

Remember, Google wants to deliver its users the relevant results they’re searching for. That’s how it has maintained its authority as the #1 most popular search engine. (And that’s why several old “black hat” SEO techniques don’t work anymore, and could even get your site penalized—not showing up in search results at all.)

When Google announced the Aug. 1 broad core algorithm update, however, they provided more explanation than usual.

One of the major affected industries of this algorithm update is HEALTH.

That’s a big one for the Adventist Church.

This update targeted the quality of websites within the topics of “Your Money or Your Life”—or finance and health.

This means that many Adventist sites focused on health-related topics—unless they’re staying up to date with the best practices in search engine optimization and content marketing—may have experienced a significant drop in traffic last month.

These articles by SearchEngineWatchSearchEngineLand and SERoundtable cover the impact of this update.

Here are the key takeaways:

Mobile First. If your website is still not set to a mobile responsive template, and the content is not optimized to be easily viewable on a phone screen, this can ding your ability to rank for search terms that might otherwise pull up your site in search results. Find out more about Mobile-First here.

Site speed. You’ve heard this one before, too. If your site takes more than 2 seconds to load, that’s considered too slow. Here are some things you can do

CONTENT QUALITY—namely, E-A-T. (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness). Google is zeroing in on the content quality of topics involving “Your Money or Your Life,” or finance and health. If you’re publishing content about health, Google wants to be certain it’s ranking credible information from authority sources.

How does it determine E-A-T? The predominant theories at this time have to do with the demonstrated E-A-T reputation of the author or organization, as compared to an amateur health blogger with no related credentials, just hoping to capitalize on popular topics for SEO purposes.

However, there are several factors Google uses to determine E-A-T that it will not release to the public, for the same reason it doesn’t announce how all of its algorithms work. But diligent SEO specialists are usually able to gather data that can help guide those who wish to play by the rules and create quality content.

EXPERTISE, AUTHORITY, TRUSTWORTHINESS (E-A-T)

We’re actively looking into this subject for our important health-related ministries that seek to reach the online mission field with relevant, helpful information. We want the right arm of the message to be proclaimed loudly online, too!

Until we release our next update on this issue, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure your site’s pages don’t have too many external links within your content. It’s ideal if you can write from your own clinical experience. But if that’s not possible and you have to link to an authoritative reference, try not to exceed 2-3 external links per page.
  • When you do use external links as references, make sure they also look the part for E-A-T. It’s always great to link to official organizations, hospitals, medical journals, etc. If you wish to link to a site that is not one of these, however, try roughly evaluating its E-A-T with these criteria:
    • Does the site you link to have a valid SSL certificate? Is their URL https, rather than http?
    • Does the site you link to clearly state who owns it, what the purpose of the site is, how it chooses its authors, and how it vets its content?
    • Does the site you link to look up to date and professional?
  • Use other methods of reference, if possible. If you’ve interviewed a doctor, researcher, dietician, therapist, etc., yourself, you can use their quote and not have to worry about an external reference. Make sure to mention their full name, complete credentials, the organization they practice with, and their general location. You can also cite physical sources, such as printed books and journals (remember those?)
  • Ghostwrite for professionals with credentials. While it can be tough to ask medical professionals to set aside time to write an article, they may be willing to do a quick interview. But make sure to be straightforward about your intentions. You are asking to “borrow” their credentials to promote your content. However, if they already support your cause, there are benefits in it for them, too.
    • Speak with the experts you know and ask if they’d be willing to have an article ghostwritten for them, focusing on a topic they are knowledgeable and passionate about.
    • This can be a win-win. It gets the professional’s name out there without them having to sit down and write, and it helps your health ministry demonstrate its credibility.

All in all, until we know more specifics, think about how you interpret expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

What tips you off that something isn’t quite up to par, or that the research being presented might be biased or outdated?

Use those same ideas to evaluate the content you’re working with, or ask a trusted source to give your content an objective review. Sometimes when we work so closely with our “product,” it can be easy to miss things that others might notice.

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