The Latest Google Knowledge Graph Update May Lead to a Decrease in Traffic for Health Content Publishers

Charlie Crespo - February 12, 2015

These days, we all follow the same process when we notice something wrong with our health. Before we decide whether we need to check in with a doctor, we Google whether that sinus congestion is only due to allergies or if it might be a sign of the dreaded flu.

If you’re reading this and saying to yourself, “I never Google health information,” you might be right. According to Google, however, you’re one of the few, as one in 20 Google searches are for health-related details.

If you are a publisher of health related content, this can be very impactful. You may be receiving organic traffic from users who are performing these health-related searches.


Before update (left), after update (right).

Unfortunately for publishers of health-related content, a change to the Google Knowledge Graph may negatively affect this type of traffic. From Google’s perspective, users can have trouble finding the best online health information. Either it might take too long to find if it is urgently needed, or it could just be too hard to parse through all the search results. To remedy the situation, Google has started to roll out a new update that will provide a richer experience for searchers looking for online health information. Although this information will be easier and quicker to find, Google has made it clear that these improved results are not medical advice.

With this update, user behavior may change from clicking on your results to digesting the information directly in the search engine result pages, thus decreasing the amount of traffic to certain websites.

Here are some key features about the most recent Google Knowledge Graph update:

  • Search results will have a different look. Instead of the standard list format, some — but not all — results will include high-quality illustrations.
  • Medical professionals were consulted. As part of the process, Google worked with a group of medical doctors to assemble and evaluate the information. In addition, it was checked for accuracy by medical practitioners at the Mayo Clinic.
  • It’s best for common ailments. While users can still search online for unique conditions, this update will be specific to common health complaints.

This is a stark change from Google’s results in the past, but it is only the beginning. If your website publishes health-related content, it will be important to take a step back and assess how you can align your content publishing efforts with search engine optimization. Analyze the types of searches that would be best to optimize your content towards, given the recent and potential future updates. Finally, ensure that your content contains key differentiators that will drive user engagement, retention, and sharing.

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