SEO Tips & Resources

Why You Need to Know All About YMYL and E-A-T

Google is constantly expanding its algorithm to include solid authoritative metrics for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content. What is YMYL? It’s a fancy new acronym being thrown around by search engine optimization experts nowadays – as if you didn’t have enough SEO acronyms already. This article will discuss exactly what YMYL is, and how to rank YMYL content.

YMYL – “Your Money or Your Life”

Now, it’s important, first and foremost, to know the answer to this question: What constitutes YMYL content? Let’s analyze the question. Your Money or Your Life content typically pertains to information that, if misrepresented or containing inaccurate data, could negatively impact the reader’s health, safety, financial stability or happiness. In other words, if the reader gets the wrong information, it could have potentially disastrous implications on their life.

Google gives a specific definition of what a YMYL page actually is and how page quality impacts how YMYL content ranks in search:

  • News and Current Events: Websites that contain important information pertaining to local/state/government. Important news topics and current events – in particular politics, business, science, technology, etc.
  • Civics, Government and Law: Websites that contain information designed to inform the citizenry about voting, local or governmental agencies, social services or legal issues (custody, divorce, probate, real estate, etc).
  • Finance: Websites that dispense financial advice regarding investments, tax preparation, retirement planning, 401k, loans, credit cards, banking, insurance and, in particular, any website that allows people to make a purchase or transfer money online.
  • Shopping: Websites that contain information about where to buy goods and services, as well as research and reviews about consumer, industrial or commercial products. Again, this particularly pertains to websites that allow users to make a purchase online.
  • Health and Safety: Websites that dispense advice on medical issues, pharmacology, hospitals, drugs, preparing for emergencies, where to go in an emergency, COVID-19 stats, safety, etc.
  • Groups of People: Websites with information pertaining to large groups of people and providing demographics or statistics based on race, religion, gender, disability, age, nationality, sexual orientation or veteran status.
  • Other: There is a large subset of other niche related websites that are considered YMYL, such as fitness, nutrition, housing, choosing a college, finding a job, going on a vacation, etc.

Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness or E-A-T Has a Direct Correlation With Page Quality

Around five years ago, in 2015, Google released its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that contained some fundamental information about how Google determines whether web pages are high quality enough to rank for YMYL content. One of the gold standards they outlined was E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. Google explicitly stated that E-A-T has a direct impact on-page quality.

According to Google, one of the chief components of ranking YMYL content is the overall page quality (PQ). Pages that demonstrate E-A-T get a high PQ rating and a high PQ rating means a page serves some beneficial features and information for the user. Google makes a special attempt at pairing YMYL content with a high PQ standard.

3 Important Factors for Ranking YMYL Content

There are three vital factors for ranking YMYL content. These are:

1. The page quality determines the purpose of that web page and whether or not it conforms to the user’s search query.

2. Page quality also considers whether a webpage has been created to help users. Websites that have been created to harm, deceive or siphon money all get the lowest PQ possible.

3. You also need to take into account the page purposes Google deems “helpful” in establishing a higher PQ rating. These include, among others:

  • Sharing information about a topic
  • Expressing an opinion or point of view
  • Allowing users to post questions for other users to answer
  • Selling products or services.

As an SEO, I’ve practiced these standards myself. Here are some practical ways I have established PQ standards in my own work. I built a website for finding a Pool Contractor and got it to rank for YMYL type content by using the following strategies:

  • Including a knowledge base that answers many consumer-related questions and provides a rating mechanism to rate and review answers.
  • Allowing user-generated content that can also be rated and reviewed.
  • Sharing information about specific topics and subjects in a well-composed and originally written blog.
  • Sharing personal information and social information via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
  • Providing instant information for queries using an internal search tool.

Titan Growth does a fantastic job of analyzing and compartmentalizing even more strategies to help you improve your page quality ratings. There are lots of metrics, such as reviews, location citations, correct query interpretations and many other factors that come into play. Understanding the correct interpretation of the query you want your YMYL content to rank for in search is imperative.

How Google Classifies YMYL-Style Queries:

YMYL queries are classified into four categories depending on what the user hopes to achieve. These are:

  • Do Query: The user is going to use their phone to perform a specific action, like dial a phone number or email someone.
  • Know Query: The user is trying to get more information about a specific topic or keyword.
  • Website Query: The user is attempting to locate a specific website.
  • Visit-in-Person Query: The user is trying to visit the physical location of a business or point of interest.

Keeping these queries in mind is important, especially if your YMYL content could have implications impacted by any of those factors. Google places special importance on providing the best local solution for these types of queries.

Additionally, this is where local citations play an integral part in ranking YMYL content. The number of locals who consider your content to be an important resource has a direct correlation on how your YMYL content will rank.

Finally, Google also considers the Needs Met rating guidelines in determining a page’s quality. The Needs Met guidelines are directly influenced by their ability to help mobile users in particular. Websites that best serve the Needs Met rating guidelines will often have better E-A-T, higher PQ and rank better for YMYL content in general. The Needs Met ratings are as follows:

  • Fully Meets (FM): Most of your website visitors are satisfied with the content provided on your website and don’t need to visit another site.
  • Highly Meets (HM): Users are helped by the information on your site, but ultimately need to visit another source for what they are really looking for.
  • Moderately Meets (MM): Your page may help some mobile users, but most users will want to view other websites as well.
  • Slightly Meets (SM): Your page is slightly helpful to mobile users and may contain some useful information, but it does not meet many of the E-A-T standards to rank higher.
  • Fails to Meet (FM): None of the standards are met on your page, and users would greatly benefit from visiting another source for the information they are looking for.

It’s important to note that Google can often not make the distinction as to whether experts are creating content or not. So, another determining factor other than E-A-T that Google often employs in determining page quality is Authority, Relevance, Trust or A-R-T.

The A-R-T standards have been part of Google search for a very long time. Google uses them to establish Trust, Authority and Identity signals as part of its ranking algorithm. Google has relied on them for years but made it clear in a recent white paper that E-A-T is now becoming a linchpin standard as well.

All these fancy acronyms – YMYL, E-A-T, A-R-T… Hey, at the end of the day, it’s all about creating content that Google wants. None of the lexicons are new; this just may be the first time you’ve heard them. But believe me, you’ll be hearing these terms a lot more in the near future. 

Ever since 2018’s Google Algorithm update (AKA “the Medic update”), there’s been a huge spotlight on E-A-T, and it’s now been intrinsically tied to ranking and rating YMYL content. I hope this article gave you some helpful insights as to what YMYL is and how to use E-A-T to get your content to show up first in the search results.

Joseph Trusty

Joe Trusty is a published author, serial Internet Entrepreneur and CEO of Pool Marketing, a digital marketing agency encompassing brands such as Pool Magazine and Pool Contractor and many others. Joe has helped Fortune 500 companies increase their revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars using his sound SEO advice and marketing strategies.

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