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What is YMYL Content and How Does it Affect Your SEO?

    Last Updated on August 25, 2023

    Flummoxed about how AI content can be better than yours? Concerned that AI content will prevail? Worried it will take away your writing work, or costing your search engine ranking?

    Google has always had the answer: YMYL content. Your Money Your Life. This is content that matters. Content that helps people. Content that Google rates. Content that can only be written by people and for people.

    This is your edge.

    YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life,” and refers to web pages or websites (whose content) are related to topics that can significantly impact our health, financial well-being, safety, or overall happiness. 

    Honestly, if you have ever tried to recreate one of those cake recipes, and failed as miserably as I have, you might think recipes are YMYL content, right? However, Google is not so unforgiving. Even recipe and cooking advice needs to be helpful, and come from an authority.

    According to Google’s guidelines: “We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low-quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact a person’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” (Quality Raters Guidelines Section 2.3 Your Money or Your Life “YMYL” Pages)

    In the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and digital marketing, understanding YMYL is crucial because Google holds these types of web pages to higher standards due to their potential impact on users’ lives. Google wants to ensure that the information provided on YMYL pages is reliable, accurate, and trustworthy. As a result, YMYL pages may require additional scrutiny and expertise to rank well in search results.

    What are the Quality Raters Guidelines?

    The Google Page Quality Ratings, also known as Quality Raters Guidelines, is a set of guidelines provided by Google to its human evaluators who assess the quality of search results. These guidelines are used to evaluate the quality of web pages based on their relevance, usefulness, and credibility to provide better search results to users.

    “Page Quality rating or PQ is a grade given by Page Quality raters who have the responsibility of evaluating “how well a page achieves its purpose”. Purpose of the content, author expertise, links, and brand citations all come into play while measuring the quality of a page.”

    It’s important to note that human evaluators use these guidelines to assess the quality of search results, but they do not directly impact a website’s search rankings. However, the feedback and data collected from these evaluations may be used by Google to improve its search algorithms and provide better search results to users.

    Knowing there are human evaluators for YMYL content should deter you from using AI writing tools. You can’t afford for the article to be wrong and possibly lead a reader astray.

    Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines help raters evaluate search results. YMYL is mentioned 120 times in the guidelines, second only to E-E-A-T which appears 127 times. 

    “Raters also help us categorise information to improve our systems.” Google

    What are Some Examples of YMYL Topics?

    YMYL is content written by actual experts (or, should be)  and backed up by trusted sources (outbound links). Showing experience, expertise, authority, and trust (referred to as E-E-A-T) is crucial for YMYL pages to rank well in search results. In other words, if you’re not a licensed financial advisor, don’t write about stock-buying strategies. 

    We all experienced misinformation, fake news, rumours, and unsupported content flooding the web during the COVID pandemic. You don’t want that to be your content.

    Suppose your website is in the health and financial services sectors. In that case, it’s important to understand that Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) Standards will be more important than even website design, UX, and security. Yes. Read that again. These pages are held to higher standards by Google when it comes to other SEO factors, such as website design, user experience, and website security. Google — and Bing — will provide the most accurate experience for users who are seeking information on critical topics that impact their lives. 

    So what kinds of YMYL topics are included in these higher standards?

    1. Health and Medical Information: health conditions, treatments, medications, and nutrition. For example, pages about cancer treatments, mental health resources, or nutrition advice.
    2. Financial Information: financial planning, investment advice, taxes, or insurance. For example, pages about retirement planning, credit card advice, or mortgage information.
    3. Legal Information: guidance on legal matters. For example, pages about immigration law, family law, or intellectual property law.
    4. News and Current Events: current events, politics, or social issues. For example, pages about elections, government policies, or social justice topics.
    5. Safety and Security: safety measures, emergency preparedness, or cybersecurity. For example, pages about home security, first aid, or online privacy.
    6. Child Safety: parenting, child development, or child safety. For example, pages about child car seat guidelines, child nutrition, or child psychology.

    Like all content, YMYL content depends on various factors, including its quality, the competitiveness of the niche or industry, the website’s overall SEO strategy, and user engagement. If you want your content to be seen in the search engine results pages (SERPs), write and document your articles carefully.

    How Does Google Differentiate Between Topics that are and are not YMYL?

    According to Google’s Raters Guidelines, a good example of YMYL can be shown regarding information about the weather compared to music awards winners:

    Clear YMYL Topic: Evacuation routes for a hurricane 

    Inaccurate information on the correct routes could cause significant harm to people.  

    May be YMYL Topic: Weather forecast

    In most situations, slightly inaccurate information about the weather forecast will not cause harm. People often ask family members “What’s the weather like today?” 

    Not or Unlikely YMYL Topic: Music award winners

    This topic is unlikely to cause harm.

    What About Google Helpful Content? Is My Fitness Advice Blog Helpful or YMYL Content?

    I have a fitness blog, and post diet and exercise advice. I think that’s helpful to many people. Google even says that it’s interested in ranking content that is helpful to others. Should I worry?

    There is a saying in the kitchen: when in doubt, throw it out. Don’t take the chance. 

    Ask yourself: are you a recognised authority? Demonstrate trustworthiness by providing endnotes or inline links to your research and content sources. It’s crucial to include a research reference for every statement made regarding health, wellness, or nutrition.

    “The goal of Google’s helpful content update is to reward content that visitors are happy with. Useful content. As always, Google strives to remain the most successful search engine by providing us with the very best search results.” Warren Laine-Naida & Bettina Heuser:

    Is YMYL Only Interesting to Google? What About Other Search Engines?

    Bing, similar to Google, follows the concept of YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content in their search engine ranking guidelines.

    Bing, like Google, places a higher level of scrutiny on YMYL content to ensure that it meets specific quality standards. Bing’s guidelines emphasize the importance of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) for YMYL content. Content creators are encouraged to provide accurate, reliable, and trustworthy information, backed by credible sources and credentials, for YMYL topics.

    I Understand YMYL Better Now. What does E-E-A-T Mean?

    E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust. Originally E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust), Google introduced the extra E in December 2022. Source: Google In addition to the expertise you bring to your field, the authority you have, and the trust you exhibit, Google will also look at your experience. What have you done in your field of expertise?

    If you want your E-E-A-T score to be high, then ensure the trustworthiness of your content can be easily determined by the valuable experiences it provides on a topic. In other words, talk the talk and walk the walk. In addition, your social media and forum discussions should also be trustworthy – especially when they involve people sharing their first-hand experiences, regardless of the topic.

    “In addition to your website, your social media and forum discussions should also be of high quality when they involve people sharing their first-hand experiences, regardless of the topic. Don’t focus only on your website.” Warren Laine-Naida – Creating a Delicious E-E-A-T Score

    Let’s Wrap it Up: How Can I Optimise My YMYL Content for Search Engines

    Since Google requires high-quality content from YMYL websites, optimize it for search engines. Focus your attention on demonstrating both expertise and authority. It’s not necessary to pull a trader from the stock exchange and have them write content about day trading though. But you should have your content written by SEO professionals (read: not ChatGPT) and checked by someone with the appropriate authority and knowledge of the subject. 

    To rank for YMYL content, keep the following in mind:

    • + Hire expert writers with experience in content-sensitive topics and SEO for YMYL industries.
    • + Have a real expert on the subject you’re writing about proofread your content.
    • + Ensure your expert’s authority is Googleable. Can you find other supporting content on this subject via guest articles, their website, conference websites, and publications?
    • + Ensure the evidence of your expert’s authority (above) is visible in the SERPs.

    Want to Know More? Please Drop Me a Line

    If you’re interested in learning more, but don’t want to contact me, that’s okay. You can also read a free chapter of my SEO for Beginners book right here: FREE CHAPTER: SEO All You Need to Know Book

    Thanks to Canva for the AI generated image of a female jogger holding money and vegetables.