Case Study: Google Search Update Recovery – Google Medic Update

At the end of September 2018 Fuelist Digital took on a small e-commerce client who sold medical related products. They had been directly and negatively affected by the Google Medic Search update that was rolled out in the first week of August 2018. The client had a number of theories as to what had caused them to get caught in the Google update, as they were a legitimate provider selling a common medical device, and had the licensing and facility to produce the device. 

Chart of June-September here

Within 12 months Fuelist Digital had restored sales to their previous positions, without any backlinking efforts, AdWords purchases, and disavowing under 100 URLs. The efforts were done with onsite SEO practices, business strategy, UI/UX improvements, coding improvements, and a hosting move.   

The Damage:
75% traffic drop
60% revenue drop

Complications with diagnostics:

Upon diagnosis, the site was found to not have a proper installation of Google Analytics for e-commerce. Traffic was being captured, but sales and conversions were not. This left big holes in our ability to figure out what pages were converting sales and what pages were not. This left us in a position where assumptions had to be made based on traffic to pages and sales. Needless to say conversion rates were low. 

Initial Diagnosis

  • Sites page loads were in excess of 12 seconds per page, and in some extreme cases upwards of 20 seconds. 
  • Content cannibalization
  • Confusing Checkout Process
  • Lack of Structured Data
  • High page bounce rate (most likely due to page speed)
  • Mobile UI/UX issues
  • Mobile site errors
  • Inconsistent pricing structure
  • Broken code
  • Broken Analytics/Metrics Tracking
  • Improper search console setup
    • Broken Sitemap
    • Incomplete Robots.txt file
    • Missing Search Console profiles 

By removing the “one size fits all” site theme, we custom coded a new site theme utilizing much of the previous site’s visual design elements. In addition, it was determined that a new hosting service and provider would be required to meet site demand and more efficiently deliver content. Fuelist Digital was able to reduce load times sitewide to under 3 seconds per page. 

The problem with making these changes is that some changes needed to be made immediately. While recovery efforts were being put in place the business was financially in trouble. Hosting was changed immediately to attempt to reduce the high bounce rate and page loading speed. In addition an email list was created utilizing additional customer data. Over ten thousand customers who had requested additional information had never been contacted. This helped to bridge the gap that a 75% traffic loss had created. 

By early January 2019, the majority of the site coding, design, and UI/UX updates had been applied to the site and consistent emails had begun restoring revenue to the site. However, the company was still struggling to recover. 

Our onsite SEO efforts took until March for the new organic search results to come in. Consistent month over month growth continued from March and into August when a peak on site sales record was set even though traffic to the site was down 25%.