Medical Website Visibility after YMYL

YMYL Visibility

This is my review of a medical website visibility study. In which I explain the key points for webmasters. So this is for people who are concerned about how Google website quality guidelines affects their website traffic. Because it helps you discuss your quality concerns with SEO professionals. In the hope that you can support your adviser’s marketing plan with better quality content.

Citation for Medical Website Visibility

This is a Shrewdies review of:
Strzelecki, Artur. “Google medical update: why is the search engine decreasing visibility of health and medical information websites?.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 4 (2020): 1160.

At the time of writing, this study has been cited by 4 other studies.

Medical Website Visibility Purpose

To investigate why Google is decreasing the visibility of health and medical information websites in search engine results. Also, how to measure the decrease.

1. Why is the Google search engine decreasing the visibility of health and medical information websites?
2. How can we measure the decreased visibility of health and medical information websites?

Jargon-free Abstract

In the jargon-free abstract I present the key points of the original abstract. Replacing jargon with terms more familiar to unqualified people. Note that my selection of jargon terms might not match yours. So please ask, using the feedback form near the end of the page, if you need clarification.

Background / Introduction
The study starts by explaining YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages. Being Google’s interpretation of website content that might affect peoples happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. Listing 5 types of YMYL pages:

  1. Financial transactions or shopping.
  2. Financial information or advice.
  3. Medical information or advice.
  4. Legal information or advice.
  5. Important news or public information affecting citizenry.

It continues with many examples of extensive medical and health information from search results. Including factors that have historically affected website visibility in those results.

The study selected 21 websites from the 10 most populous European countries. Then used a commercial service, Ahrefs, to extract search visibility data.
Results / Findings
The study used data from 4 dates, creating 3 study periods of 5 or 6 months. Then data from each period was scaled to represent the first date scores as 100 (30 July 2018). Average score fell to 77% during the first study period (1 January 2019). Then fell again to 51% to 1 June 2019. A similar score of 53% was recorded for the final study period to 30 November 2019.
The author recognizes limitations of the study as:

  1. Only health websites covered, omitting other types of YMYL website.
  2. Small samples size of 21 websites.
  3. Global perspective is limited to 10 European countries.
  4. Study does not attempt to include unobservable factors that might influence search result visibility. For example, brand recognition.

Original Abstract

The Google search engine answers many health and medical information queries every day. People have become used to searching for this type of information. This paper presents a study which examined the visibility of health and medical information websites. The purpose of this study was to find out why Google is decreasing the visibility of such websites and how to measure this decrease. Since August 2018, Google has been more rigorously rating these websites, since they can potentially impact people’s health. The method of the study was to collect data about the visibility of health and medical information websites in sequential time snapshots. Visibility consists of combined data of unique keywords, positions, and URL results. The sample under study was made up of 21 websites selected from 10 European countries. The findings reveal that in sequential time snapshots, search visibility decreased. The decrease was not dependent on the country or the language. The main reason why Google is decreasing the visibility of such websites is that they do not meet high ranking criteria.

Medical Website Visibility Conclusions

Google is decreasing the visibility of many health and medical websites because it now applies more rigorous quality checks.

the dominant search engine has started to rate health and medical information websites more rigorously than before.

This decrease can be measured by estimating total monthly traffic from keywords, search results position, and click through ratios in periodic snapshots.

When sequential data snapshots reveal that calculated metrics are decreasing in each timestamp, it proves that visibility is decreasing.

YMYL Visibility
Has Your YMYL Website Visibility Decreased?

Cited By

YMYL Websites
This is part of a project to explain why and how managing YMYL websites is different from other information websites.

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Medical Website Visibility Vocabulary

  • YMYL (Your Money or Your Life)

    ⇢ website content that might affect peoples happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.