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Google August Update (EAT, YMYL or Medic) – What We Know + How To Fix

EAT, YMYL or Medic header image
EAT, YMYL or Medic header image

On August 1st, Google released a broad core algorithm update. Now this update has stopped rolling out, we have decided to write a post on this, concluding what we know so far and what you can do about it. There hasn’t been an office ‘fun’ name to call this like Fred or Penguin, so we’re going to go with the ‘Google August Update’, otherwise it has been referred to as EAT update, YMYL Update, or the Google Medic Update.


This was confirmed over the next few days with webmasters claiming big ranking changes for their websites. Tools such as MozCast also confirmed the flux.


Source – Moz

So What Did This Update Effect?

Initially, speculation was the update affected YMYL queries because of EAT Google Guidelines, before Barry Schwartz further investigated this with a large sample of websites and coined in the Medic Update; because it affected mostly Health based sites.

Sounds strange huh? Let us explain…

YMYL and EAT were first introduced by Google in January 2016 in Google Rater Guidelines.


YMYL stands for ‘Your Money or Your Life’ and explains queries that involve your money, finances and your life, health and wellbeing. The reason these queries are important for Google to tighten up on is that they can strongly affect a person if non-authoritative and non-factual sites are prominent in this kind of query giving bad advice.

Clear on that? OK, let’s move on to EAT.

EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. This is Google’s yardstick for measuring the quality of a page, particularly in YMYL. Here are those EAT guidelines from Google, simplified

Here’s the EAT acronym explained:

  1. Expertise of the creator of the MC (main content)
  2. Authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself and the website
  3. The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website

And here are the guidelines:

  • High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
  • High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism—they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes
  • High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent a well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.
  • High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.
  • High E-A-T advice pages on topics such as home remodelling (which can cost thousands of dollars and impact your living situation) or advice on parenting issues (which can impact the future happiness of a family) should also come from “experts” or experienced sources that users can trust.
  • High E-A-T pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play the guitar, also require expertise.

The guidelines also state that E-A-T pages could even be gossip sites, forum threads or Q n A profiles where experts in a particular field a search query relates to are presenting advice.

The guidelines also advise search evaluators not to discriminate against authors who do not have formal qualifications as for some topics an expert can be anyone with experience. They give an example of a forum thread whereby someone is giving their experience of liver cancer, but then go on to say, any specific health advice should be coming from Doctors or Professionals. So from this, we can confirm there is a sliding scale as to how much E-A-T can affect the evaluation of a page.

See full search evaluator guidelines here.

Further data collected from Barry Schwartz gave the idea that rather than YMYL sites, the update affected mostly Health & Medical sites…

YMYL or more specifically, Health + Medical Sites?

Barry reviewed over 300 sites that were impacted by the update and found that out of these 300 sites, mostly health were affected. It’s worth noting, this is according to Barry’s categorisation.


Source – SE Roundtable

As you can see, there are few finance sites in the mix (YM), compared to the high amount of health (YL).

Could it be there are just more sites in the health sector that don’t meet E-A-T guidelines? 

Or could it be that this is an update affecting health for the most part?

Google has not confirmed that this was an update specifically for any type of site.  We suspect that the fluctuations related to this core update are based on Google improving results across the board based on their quality guidelines.

How To Fix?

We don’t think there is anything specific to fix here. It’s simply an update that’s reshuffling the pack across the board from what we can see. If you have been affected by the update, it could be a number of different things, specific to your own site.

Here’s a Google Medic / YMYL / E-A-T Troubleshooting Guide

We’ve based these tips on reading Google Rater Guidelines and applying them specifically to the kind of sites that may have been affected by this update.

Finance Site?

  • Ensure articles have an author
  • Ensure authors have a bio with financial credentials
  • Ensure the website has an about us page and contact us page with an address
  • Ensure time-sensitive articles are regularly updated – include dates on posts

Health Site?

  • Ensure articles have an author
  • Ensure authors are doctors or professionals in their particular field
  • Ensure website has an about us page, contact us page with an address
  • Ensure time-sensitive articles are regularly updated – include dates on posts

Forum or Q n A Site?

  • Ensure posters can include credentials that have been verified
  • Posters with credentials must be clearly marked
  • Ensure the website is heavily moderated
  • Include rules, guidelines and support

News/Journalist Site

  • Ensure articles have an author
  • Ensure the site has strict editorial policies and guidelines
  • Ensure the website has an about us page and contact us page with an address
  • Ensure time-sensitive articles are regularly updated – include dates on posts

For all other kinds of sites, I think this marks a clear intent from Google that they will be continuing to get serious about their quality guidelines.

In general, webmasters and businesses with websites should be adhering to these guidelines, but on a more meta-level, they should be providing useful content their users want. Ensure you instil trust in visitors by providing a clear explanation of who you are, who the author is, the credentials, and ways to contact you for support as well of course, focusing on crawlability, speed, mobile and link building.


We can’t say it much better than Cyrus Shepard with his fantastic piece on the 10 Google Guidelines.

To Wrap Up…

Don’t make any knee jerk reactions if your site has been affected. Get back to basics and ensure your site is the best it can be in terms of content and explanation pages of who you are and who the authors are. Would you trust your own site?

If you feel you were unfairly hit by the update… just keep creating content for your users, and keep Google’s guidelines in mind. It may be that there will be more fluctuations and more core updates this year that correct any mishaps that happened this time around.

Daniel Trick
Daniel Trick

Head of Content

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