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    August 27th Update


    Hi Everyone,

    It has been a while since I last posted in here but feel I need the help of the SEO community on this one...

    As I am sure you are all aware, there was a relatively large update on 1st August affecting, predominantly the 'Medical Sector', among other verticals.

    I look after the digital side of an online chemist / pharmacy and following 1st August, seen a healthy 20% increase in organic traffic which myself and my team were very proud of, considering many of our competitors had seen a significant fall.

    The work we have being doing as a team has been the best quality work in my career and focuses solely on experience and trust.

    As a chemist, our customers are looking for authority, a trusted website and a friendly experience, just like they would when they walk into their local chemist.

    Our content on products has never been better, it is approved and accredited by our in-house pharmacists.

    We have introduced many features to help support our customers, such as helpful guides and advice that we reference on all relevant products, we have become a company to comment in the press on health related issues earning us natural links back to our site. We conduct studies for the medical industry too.

    Any legacy 'bad links' that occurred before my team begun have been well and truly disavowed too.

    As of 27th August, Google rolled out another update that, in many ways, looked like a partial reversal of the 1st August update and this update hit us incredibly hard, seeing a 60-80% drop in Organic traffic bringing our site to it's knees.

    In all my years in this industry, I have never before been so confused about an update and now I am looking to the wider community for support on this one.

    I work for Chemist 4 U (I won't post the link in here, but please go and find us in search.)

    We are fully regulated in the UK also and have been for many years.

    If anyone can shine any light on this for us, I would be most appreciative.

    We are now focusing on on-site trust more than ever and have many new ideas that we will be rolling out almost immediately.

    Many thanks in advance,

    HJJ
    Music Fan | Formula 1 Geek | Apple Fanboy | Head of Digital
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  3. SEO Since 97
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    The health industry, big money. What do you think google wants to do with big money
    Industries? I'll help ya, use PPC follow the money.

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  5. SEO Since 97
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    Telling us your rolling out new stuff quickly doesn't tell anyone much.
    Just say in.
    Last edited by Test-ok; Oct 1st, 2018 at 03:35 AM. Reason: Spelling
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    Marie Haynes did a great talk on this at BrightonSEO last friday, she's just published the slides: https://www.slideshare.net/MarieHayn...september-2018
    Always happy to help in private message. | Learn about my latest project Can You Get Automated Pages To Rank In Google?
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    I could very well be wrong in this observation....

    I looked at your site and found some pages that I think have gotten your site in a little hot water with Google.

    Let me say this first, Google basically categorizes sites in 1 of 3 categories.

    1. Family Safe
    2. Not Family Safe
    3. Adult


    Google gives examples of what they qualify as YMYL pages, aka Your Money or Your Life pages.

    Pages that offer medical or health information and most especially pages that sell pharmaceutical products fall in to this category.

    Sites with pages that fall in to this category are then held to a higher set of quality guidelines.

    On sites classified as YMYL inner landing pages must stay consistent with the purpose of the homepage.

    This is the problem I think that has struck your site.....

    Personally I would classify your site NSFW because of the below mentioned pages and they are not consistent with your homepage and intent of your site.

    These pages target explicit sexual products, content, and intent of use.

    /sexual-wellbeing/sexual-wellbeing-specials

    /sexual-wellbeing/adult-fun


    Because of these pages I believe that Google has re-classified your site into the Adult category. This would explain such a drop in traffic.

    Sadly it really doesn't matter what you may think, it is Google making the decision of where to categorize your site.

    The below image is linked.


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    • ibis agrees
    • danhkhong2 agrees
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    Originally Posted by Test-ok
    Telling us your rolling out new stuff quickly doesn't tell anyone much.
    Just say in.
    Hi, your point on PPC could well be valid - however Google don't allow many of our products in Paid Search due to their policy restrictions.

    In regards to new features I can give you an idea of what is rolling out currently - these are based on trust factors,

    • More prominence on our regulators
    • Better policies on restricted items
    • Better safety notices on certain items
    • Having more content accredited by professionals
    • Coherence of our company address site-wide
    • Reference to our regulatory pages from .gov sites


    Plus tons more updates, again solely focused on asserting our authority and expertise in this field.

    The note on a re-categorization is something I hadn't though of and find this incredibly interesting - a competitor of ours that has also seen a drop also sells sex toys and a competitor of ours that continued to succeed don't sell sex toys.

    Very interesting point and we have now made immediate changes by removing the entire range from the site.
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    Your last indexing of these pages appears to have been on Sept. 29, you will probably have to wait until the next crawl cycle to see any improvements. So don't be impatient

    BTW you forgot one.... and it appears to have been orphaned, it is no longer in the main navigation but still available

    /sexual-wellbeing/adult-fun
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    It is being removed this afternoon - thanks for letting me know though
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    You're welcome.

    Let us know what happens with traffic in a few weeks.
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    Originally Posted by KnowOneSpecial
    You're welcome.

    Let us know what happens with traffic in a few weeks.
    Hi everyone,

    We feel there is potentially a problem with the algorithm update that happened 27/09,

    Despite this, we are continuing our efforts, rolling our wide-scale quality, trust and credibility updates to our site that take form in the following way,

    1. Mobile Index

    As many sites received the mobile index message in Search Console recently, we are looking carefully at our mobile experience from a UX and indexing perspective and found that the main menu lacked depth to sub categories on mobile and could be causing authority problems from inbound links reaching the pages that we want .

    We are also hiding a very small amount of content called our 'Short Description' on mobile - we are working now to un-hide this.

    We are also changing the way we provide our schema/structured data as some of our schema doesn't refer to anything front-end facing.

    In addition - we are implemented much more schema to our pages.

    2. Trust

    We have more reference to our regulators on our 'USP' bar under the main menu and included it on mobile now too on a slider, with links our to external regulatory pages.

    We have had more content accredited by medical professional and referenced their regulated ID's on the banners too (e.g /care-codeine-linctus-bp-200ml)

    Updated company address and business detail citation on the site to be coherent as well as looking to make changes to off-site business citations for coherence ac cross the web.

    We brought our telephone number back to the header of the site - as per search quality guidelines

    Written further pages on our policies on restricted medication and addiction as well as safeguarding and medication disposal.

    Added product notices to product pages that require further questionnaires to purchase or have a purchasing limit

    Added safety notices to product that can cause harm if over-used and/or cause addiction, with reference to external help and advice on addiction by our NHS.

    We have also added to our boilerplate content for products that is legally required to be there at the bottom of descriptions, including safety advice and addiction advice.

    We removed any adult / sex toy content in the fear that Google may have 're-categorised' the site into an adult themed entity as a result of having an area that sold adult toys.

    We also are beginning to add more Patient Information Leaflets to products - these will also be wrapped in relevant schema.




    Despite the above, we have noticed there are sites ranking above us that simply and very clearly shouldn't be there - indicating an issue with the recent roll-out.

    For example, we used to rank in #1 or #2 for 'Codeine Linctus or 'Codeine Linctus UK',

    Our page is here and is a good example of the work we have put in recently,

    https://www.chemist-4-u.com/care-cod...nctus-bp-200ml

    There is a page outranking us which is here,

    https://www.kg-shien.org/codeine-buy-online-uk

    Only been showing since the update.

    There is no mention of 'codeine' in the source code apart from the URL and the site itself and no relatable content on the page.

    However, I appreciate my theory could well be wrong therefore continuing large-scale efforts to improve out site's quality.
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    That's a lot of changes to be making at once. I would suggest you slow down on the changes and give each change a little time to take effect.

    You could be making an improvement in one area and a change that is detrimental in another and not know it ... this is just a word of caution.

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    Take note of slowing down on changes as KOS said above, he is on point.
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    It dawned on me to just now take a look at your competitor that was ranking for the codeine term.

    I suggest you put a hold on all of your work till you read and digest this post.

    I will explain why..... and I have a upfront question, keep the answer to it in mind as you read this post.

    In a previous post you made the remark...
    Originally Posted by HappyJackJunior
    a competitor of ours that has also seen a drop also sells sex toys and a competitor of ours that continued to succeed don't sell sex toys.
    Does this competitor that doesn't sell sex toys, also does not sell codeine ? I am curious to know.

    First I looked at your competitor... They took the page down... https://www.kg-shien.org/codeine-buy-online-uk
    If they took the page down, I would think it is because they are seeing a hit in the serps too. This leads me to believe the Google Data Center you get your results from hasn't been updated yet or you didn't view the page to see that it was taken down. The important point is the page is gone.



    Seems Codeine is one of those "Not Allowed" products. This is because it is one of those drugs that you can become addicted to.

    Even on your site there is a warning and it is prominently displayed....



    In the USA, Codeine cough syrup which can be purchased in person at pharmacies is a behind the counter drug, and most pharmacies refuse to sell it without a doctors input. Your site allows it by just filling out a online questionnaire, this may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. This is just my opinion on this but it may be Google considers your site low quality because of your requirements to acquire a controlled substance.

    After seeing this I decided to take a closer look and the rules I am seeing are quite STRICT.

    I think you should check out this page very closely. Give it some serious attention. Then go thru your site with a fine tooth comb and check your entire line of products you advertise.
    There are a ton of certifications you have to acquire for Google to allow you to sell these restricted products online via their network.
    If the site / company is not qualified to advertised these products on Google Shopping, then I am of the opinion the Medic Update will flag sites that do sell it and demote them in the serps.

    https://support.google.com/merchants...150151#country

    Seems even selling HIV home test is regulated. Also that the USA is only country that is allow to sell such home test via the internet as far as Google is concerned. I may be miss reading this.... you tell me...



    Also in a previous post in this thread....
    Originally Posted by ThomasHarvey
    Marie Haynes did a great talk on this at BrightonSEO last friday, she's just published the slides: https://www.slideshare.net/MarieHayn...september-2018
    You also need to check out this link as well... again by Marie Hayes. Quite informative.
    https://www.mariehaynes.com/the-augu...ed-ymyl-sites/

    The bottom line is you still need to identify the issue between Google and your site. It is localized to the Medic Update. Keep your focus there and find all things that Google will not tolerate concerning what Online Pharmacies may or may not promote via Google Shopping. If you don't qualify to promote the product via Google Shopping, I am betting any site that doesn't will see big dings the serps. All the other things you are planning to do I would hold off, you may only be making things worse !

    This Post is Just My Opinion for what it's worth
    Last edited by KnowOneSpecial; Oct 4th, 2018 at 08:24 PM. Reason: Spelling correction
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    Originally Posted by Test-ok
    Take note of slowing down on changes as KOS said above, he is on point.
    Hi guys - appreciate your advice here,

    However, the changes made are only purely to increase quality and have been in our dev queue for a while, it's only now that we have pushed these forwards,

    Despite that - I take your advice on board and will look to be more selective over certain project rolling out in the immediate future.
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    Morning KOS (from the UK!),

    Thank you for your input and time spent on this post.

    In regards to the Google Data Center idea - you could well be correct and we will continue to monitor this - great find on the 404.

    You are correct in that selling medicine online is a highly regulated practice both in 'brick and mortar' stores as well as via Google / Online.

    The competitor that was selling sex toys, does in fact sell Codeine Linctus too and continues to rank for that term as well as other competitors.

    I appreciate your idea regarding products like this which are highly regulated, however we are fully regulated by all the relevant and government bodies to sell medicine online - this is not prohibited by Google and I can provide extensive evidence that restricted medicines - even full prescription items can be sold via organic search.

    Medicines are classed into 3 main categories,

    POM (Prescription Only Medicine)

    These are medicines that can only ever be prescribed by a doctors and the highest regulated medicines - we do not sell these, however you can purchase these via online doctor websites.

    Examples of online sellers that all rank for strong terms,

    https://www.simpleonlinepharmacy.co....s-Syrup-200ml/ (These guys rank #1 for Codeine Linctus)
    Zapain 30mg/500mg caplets | LloydsPharmacy
    https://www.ukpharmacymeds.com/medic...-relief/zapain
    https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/treatments/pain-relief/zapain/


    P-Med (Pharmacy Medicine)

    These are the medicines often called 'Over The Counter' - and can only be bought with a pharmacist approval and can be found behind the counter in a pharmacy.

    There are many people selling these medicines, all fully regulated businesses and again, there are thousands of examples of legitimate, professional pharmacies selling these online.

    Examples of online sellers ranking well,

    https://www.boots.com/loceryl-curana...r-3ml-10173211
    https://www.simpleonlinepharmacy.co....ergan-tablets/

    It is law that we ask our customers to complete the questionnaire on these products before purchasing - this is then sent to our pharmacists for them to whether approve or decline - this is a safety mechanism and not an easy pass to buying medication online.


    GSL (General Sales License)

    These are any medicines that you can buy relatively freely, such as paracetamol, decongestants etc.

    https://www.theindependentpharmacy.c...estant-tablets
    https://www.naturesbest.co.uk/pharma...-liquid-500ml/


    The idea that we have product warning and notices placed on the product pages is to empower the customer, indicating that we are credible, trustworthy and have duty of care to our customers.

    Our competitor does this too and perform very well in Google Search - they have in fact seen a huge jump in ranking and traffic following Aug 1 and Sep 27, https://www.simpleonlinepharmacy.co....s-Syrup-200ml/


    We are very aware with Google's restriction in Google Shopping. We sell in Google Shopping and have an account manager specific to the medical industry - we pass through all of Google's policies and approval processes which therefore enables us to sell via GS and Google Search.

    As I say, our company has been in operation for many year's our founders and directors are super intendent pharmacists, professionally qualified and regulated.




    Many thanks,

    HJJ






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