We’ve all heard that saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
It’s not a stretch to see that Google employs this sage advice in its search results strategy. How so? Well, consider what you would do if you searched for dog parlours near you and ended up with 12 pages of car dealerships. You’d figure that perhaps Google wasn’t the best source of information and you’d look elsewhere.
Considering that Google’s entire business centres around giving accurate information to those who seek it, this would be a fail of epic proportions.
Now, think what would happen if someone was searching for information on alternative cancer therapies or car safety ratings. Imagine that the information offered by the search engine was inaccurate, fraudulent, or out of date.
These are Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) searches. And while this may sound like the sad result of a trip to the dodgy end of town, YMYL content is quite a different concept.
What Is YMYL Content?
YMYL content is information that can impact the financial or personal life of the reader. Google defines it succinctly as “pages or topics that could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”
Considering that we go online for information now more than ever, it makes sense for the powers that be to keep a close eye on the accuracy of the information we consume. This may not be a huge problem if the salon that we want to visit has an outdated price list and we don’t end up getting our eyebrows waxed. But it will cause a major issue if we purchase a car for our daughter based on inaccurate or fallacious NCAP safety ratings that we’d found online.
Google says, “Like other communication channels, the open Internet is vulnerable to the organized propagation of false or misleading information. Over the past several years, concerns that we have entered a “post-truth” era have become a controversial subject of political and academic debate.
“These concerns directly affect Google and our mission – to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. When our services are used to propagate deceptive or misleading information, our mission is undermined.”
The keen focus on YMYL content is to protect both readers and Google. And we’re 100% behind this.
Examples of YMYL Content and Topics
Google has a comprehensive list of pages or topics that could be considered YMYL content. These include:
- Shopping or financial transaction pages: web pages that allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
- Financial information pages: web pages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
- Medical information pages: web pages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
- Legal information pages: web pages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
- News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: webpages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc. Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL.
- Other: there are many other topics that you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc. Please use your judgment.
How Does Google Rank YMYL Content?
Now we need to understand how Google ranks YMYL content. This allows us to create content for our websites that is compatible with Google’s standards. It also gives us peace of mind knowing that when we are looking for YMYL information ourselves – it’s sound.
No matter our industry, if we’re publishing content that falls within the YMYL arena then Google will pick it up and will certainly inspect carefully. The search engine makes no apologies for holding this type of content to a higher standard and will be examining expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
We know that Google loves a good acronym, which leads us nicely into E-A-T
YMYL vs E-A-T
As we’ve seen, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) form the backbone of good YMYL content. This is exactly what Google will be looking for when it crawls your site.
How can you best display these critical elements?
Whatever your content matter, Google wants to know that it’s been written by someone who knows their stuff. Therefore, an article on, say, the best ways to discipline your children written by a Child Psychologist with traceable credentials and published works will perform better than one written by someone without.
What does this look like in practical terms?
If you are an expert then you need to cement yourself as one in the online space. That means, creating loads of (good quality) content that’s attributed to you, clearly highlighting your skills and experience, unambiguously showing who you are and exactly what you do.
Hot on the heels of “do you know what you’re talking about?” comes the question of authority. This relates to being recognised as an expert by others.
Authority comes in many forms and serves to tell your audience that other people value your opinion. It can be:
- Social proof from others who recognise your contributions, perhaps offering online reviews or testimonials
- Published works in recognised and respected publications or websites
- Speaking gigs or interviews from respected sources
However, it’s not just the individual who comes under scrutiny. Google also considers the brand and the reputation of the website when ascertaining authority.
Your personal and business reputation come into play in the area of trust. Are you known as a reliable and dependable source of information? Has your content ever contained inaccurate or misleading information?
Paying close attention to the accuracy of the information that you publish. Always cite reliable sources and the most up-to-date information available. Include case studies where readers can check out the facts themselves if they choose to.
Challenges of Creating YMYL Content
Due to the stringent content requirements, it can be tough to rank well organically for YMYL search queries. If you know or suspect, that you’re creating content that could be flagged by the omnipresent algorithms consider these factors:
- Consider carefully your choice of keywords before publishing a piece of content. You may unintentionally fall into the YMYL domain
- Ensure that your content is not ‘thin’ but contains solid, practical, and useful information
- Only use or cite information from high-quality sources
- Make certain that your website is secure and contains no spammy or broken links
- Be sure to provide a good user experience on your website
- Make absolutely certain that your content does not contain anything that could be perceived as deceptive or promote violence or hatred
- Continuously work to improve your brand, site, and content writer’s E-A-T score
Google wants to protect users from potentially harmful or dishonest content by providing the best, most helpful, and most accurate results. However not all search topics are created equal. This is why Google developed this classification system to organise quality content based on what type of topic it relates to.
YMYL content has the potential to harm or hurt people if abused. Therefore, Google says that quality content matters so much because they don’t want their searchers disappointed or misinformed.
If you would like to know more about YMYL content and how it impacts your SEO efforts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.