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By Al Strain, Senior Web Marketer

INTRODUCTION

It’s no secret Google regularly updates its search algorithm to better serve the tendencies of its users. Google’s top priority is to provide a quality search result for its users, which means a business’s top priority should be to provide content that is valuable for users searching for the products and services they offer.

Google reinforced this in August 2018 when it rolled out a significant update to its search algorithm. While Google rarely confirms how the update will affect specific industries, they do give businesses and site owners keys that can help their sites perform better.

According to reporting from Search Engine Land, “Google is telling us there is nothing you can do to fix your site, so you should just focus on making a great experience, offer better content and a more useful website. This update has taken on the name the ‘Medic Update’ because of its focus on the medical and health space. This specific focus is something Google will not confirm.”Screenshot of March 2018 Tweet from Google SearchLiaison

Google Search Liaison’s official Twitter account confirmed the focus of every website should be on providing quality content:

Some of our clients saw significant improvement after this update rolled out, while others saw their traffic decline. Let’s take a look at two online CPAP supply retailers, one based on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. These two companies were both impacted by the Medic Update based on their content strategy for their website.

East Coast CPAP – Unique Content Leads to Extensive Organic Growth

East Coast CPAP has been a Forbin customer since 2014. Since that time, the company has seen steady growth in the competitive industry of online CPAP sales. Their website is built on Forbin’s proprietary VPanel™ Content Management System to give them full control of managing the content in their online catalog.

Because of the competitive nature of online CPAP sales, East Coast CPAP’s best chance for success was to write custom product descriptions. While seemingly obvious, this is far from the industry norm. In fact, most online retailers choose to use descriptions provided by the products’ manufacturers. While this practice saves time and guarantees the product is being described accurately, it also makes it difficult for retailers to break through against larger, more established eCommerce sites.

By writing unique descriptions through our SEO service for every product in East Coast CPAP’s catalog, Forbin was able to give users the same information as other retailers, but with a fresh voice featuring strong calls to action. While more time consuming, the organic traffic numbers since Google’s Medic Update show the approach has paid off. Since the Medic Update, East Coast CPAP has achieved:

Graphics showing performance of CPAP e-commerce website

Graphic displaying organic search performance increase in cpap e-commerce

Most importantly, East Coast CPAP saw an 82 percent increase in organic search sessions since the update. This increase in traffic means East Coast CPAP is reaching more users without having to pay for traffic, which allows them to focus their marketing budget on other areas. All told, this increase in traffic helped East Coast CPAP have its strongest year ever in 2018. Order volume increased by 28 percent, while revenue was up 44 percent compared to 2017.

West Coast CPAP – Sharp Drop. Slow Recovery. Developing A Plan for Future Success.

West Coast CPAP became Forbin’s client in 2018 shortly before the Medic Update went into effect. While West Coast CPAP does have eCommerce functionality, it’s also an online resource center for patients and physicians looking to learn more about sleep disorders. Their website lacks unique content, and their online catalog is populated by manufacturer descriptions for each product.

West Coast CPAP experienced a sharp decline in the first month after the Medic Update. Organic traffic to the site declined by nearly 40 percent. Sessions, users and page view metrics also declined sharply after the update.

Graphic displaying organic search decrease in performance for cpap e-commerce

Graphic displaying organic search decrease in sessions for cpap e-commerce

Those sharp declines are troubling for any business owner. However, it’s important not to overreact to changes in the search algorithm, as the initial impact may not be a final sentence for your website. For West Coast CPAP, all it took was a couple more months for their traffic to begin to rebound. While their traffic declined overall, it has recovered significantly from the initial shock caused by the Medic Update. The figures below compare the three months before the update to the three months after.

Graphic displaying organic search recovery in performance for cpap e-commerce

Graphic displaying organic search recovery in sessions for cpap e-commerce

Forbin has created a content strategy for West Coast CPAP designed to eliminate duplicate content, beginning with the online catalog. Implementing this strategy of writing content specific to West Coast CPAP’s users will follow Google’s defined best practices, which should continue the recovery that began after the initial shock caused by the Medic Update.

Key Takeaways – How You Can Improve Your Site

The differences between East Coast CPAP and West Coast CPAP are clear. If you follow Google’s advice and create content that serves your users’ needs, your site will perform better. If your website traffic has declined in recent months, don’t panic. Now is the time to come up with a strategy. You know unique content is key to your site’s success, so where do you begin?

  • Check your site’s Google Analytics to look at your top visited pages.
  • Identify your key products and services. These are the first landing pages you should address.
  • If possible, engage your users/customers to find out why they came to your site.
  • Take your time. Writing better content is not easy, but doing it right pays off.
  • Give the strategy time. Don’t panic if the numbers don’t turn around right away. Trust the strategy.

If you’re not sure where to start, Forbin’s team of web marketing professionals are ready to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how our online marketing services can help your business’s website perform better.

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