What Are ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) Webpages?
“Your money or your life…” It sounds like something you’d hear in an old spaghetti Western, doesn’t it? This content type is no joke though.
Your money or your life (YMYL) is how Google describes “types of pages or topics that could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”
Understanding the implications of YMYL content and how to keep within Google’s expectations is essential for website publishers and SEO professionals.
In this post, you’ll find answers to the most pressing questions about YMYL content:
- What Are Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Webpages?
- Why Is YMYL Important to SEO?
- How Do You Optimize for YMYL?
- Raise the bar for YMYL webpages
- FAQ: How can I ensure my web content meets Google’s YMYL standards for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness?
YMYL webpages contain information that could potentially impact a person’s life in serious ways. In its most recent Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google explains that its Page Quality rating standards for YMYL content are “very high” because low-quality pages could have negative consequences for searchers.
YMYL pages aren’t just places where you can make a purchase. Examples of YMYL content include:
- News about important topics and current events, especially in business, politics, science, and technology.
- Information about civics, government, and the law, such as content about voting or social services.
- Financial advice and information about taxes, savings, investments, etc.
- Shopping pages, whether for products or services.
- Health and safety content including medical information and anything to do with drugs, emergency preparedness, hospitals, and more.
- Pages about groups of people, specifically claims or information about religion, sexuality, race, or other shared traits/demographics.
Google notes that the list in its guidelines is not comprehensive. Any webpage with information, advice, or claims “related to big decisions or important aspects of people’s lives” can be considered YMYL.
Google holds YMYL pages to a higher standard than other types of content. If you want webpages on these potentially sensitive topics to outrank the competition, all of the content on the page must pass the search engine’s rigorous quality checks.
- Main Content (MC): The part of the page that directly helps the page achieve its purpose, including text, images, videos, reviews, and other user-generated content, etc.
- Supplementary Content (SC): Parts of the page that contribute to user experience but aren’t necessarily driving the purpose of the page, such as navigational links, for example.
- Ads: Paid media and monetization designed to make money from the webpage, including affiliates or any other monetized links.
Website publishers must understand that even a YMYL webpage with high-quality content may not be up to snuff if there are affiliate links or ads directing readers to dubious information that could negatively impact them.
Think in terms of the overall experience a searcher has on the webpage in question.
You can’t talk YMYL without running into another impactful acronym: E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). E-E-A-T is not a ranking factor; rather, it is how Google describes what it’s looking for in quality web content.
E-E-A-T is important on all types of websites and pages, from forums with strictly user-generated content to fashion blogs and gossip websites.
It is even more important on webpages that users turn to for advice and information about the topics that could seriously impact their livelihood — YMYL pages.
From Google’s guidelines:
The amount of information needed for E-E-A-T assessment depends on the type of website. For example, YMYL websites demand a high degree of trust, so they generally need satisfying information about who is responsible for the content of the site.
There are a few aspects Google looks at in particular when considering E-E-A-T. Make sure your webpage clearly answers these important questions:
- What is the purpose of this page?
- How does it demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness?
- Is the quality and amount of the main content indicative of a high-quality resource on this topic?
- Who is responsible for the main content on this page?
- What sort of reputation does this website and the person responsible for the page content have?
- Does this site sell ads or offer links to questionable and, thus, potentially harmful content or sites?
Publishers will also want to pay particular attention to “Needs Met,” a section in the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines added in late 2020. Needs Met measures on a scale of “Fails to Meet” to “Fully Meets” how well a search engine results page and the landing page associated with the query meet a mobile searcher’s intent.
Optimizing YMYL content, pages, and sites means making it as easy as possible for both site visitors and search engines to see that your resource will not negatively impact readers. Use these tips to improve your page’s E-E-A-T.
In December 2022, Google extended the acronym to E-E-A-T, emphasizing Experience. This shift highlights the significance of firsthand, real-life expertise among writers discussing specific subjects. Pages crafted by individuals possessing ample personal experience tend to be trustworthy and proficiently achieve their goals. For example, evaluating the reliability of a product review is influenced by whether it comes from someone who has used the item versus someone who hasn’t.
Google is specifically looking at the expertise of the person who created the page’s MC. Expertise is particularly important in YMYL topics. Google wants to see that the person who created the content has professional experience, accreditation, education, first-hand experience, and/or other qualifications that make them an expert in the topic.
To help improve your content’s expertise:
- Be clear about who created the main content and what makes them an expert on the topic. This may mean hiring experts, and you may want to include author names with brief bios in your content.
- Properly source and cite credible information to support any claims that are not common knowledge. Remember that outbound links to expert sources boost your credibility.
- Where content is user-generated, ensure there is an oversight process so that low-quality, potentially harmful information is removed.
In gauging authority, Google is looking at the authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website as a whole.
To improve your authoritativeness:
- Ask yourself, does this page leave questions unanswered? While word count or the volume of main content is not a ranking factor, Google does want to see that the amount of content is sufficient to satisfy the reader’s needs. (By the way, you can see the word count for the top-ranked pages by using our WordPress SEO plugin.)
- Attract links from other reputable, highly authoritative websites in your niche, such as industry associations, recognized experts, and reputable publications. For more, see The CMO’s Guide to the New Link Building Strategy.
As with authoritativeness, Google is considering the trustworthiness of the MC creator, the MC itself, and the website. This is particularly important where the content offers advice on personal finance, legal issues, taxes, etc.
Ways to improve a website’s trustworthiness include:
- For sales and store pages in particular, Google is looking for a “satisfying” customer service experience. Make sure the page proactively answers common questions and that the path to service — whether by online chat, phone, or any other method — is crystal clear.
- Incorporate testimonials and reviews into pages rather than leaving them only on third-party websites or on one dedicated page. Don’t make users go looking for them; chances are, they won’t bother. Google says, “We consider a large number of positive user reviews as evidence of positive reputation.”
- Display any industry associations, relevant qualifications, badges that illustrate how you protect visitor/shopper data, refund policy information, and other information that builds trust with visitors.
- Google says that “when a high level of authoritativeness or expertise is needed, the reputation of a website should be judged on what expert opinions have to say.” What would a top industry expert say about your YMYL webpage?
Finally, look at your webpages on YMYL topics with a critical eye:
- Would I give this website my money?
- Would I consent to a medical treatment or investment plan based on what I see here?
- How confident am I in the accuracy of this information?
Read our Complete Guide to the Fundamentals of Google’s E-E-A-T for more helpful tips and examples. And also see: 5 Times When SEO Siloing Can Make or Break Your Rankings for how siloing can help with YMYL webpages.
The bar rises substantially when you’re optimizing YMYL sites and content. Be that reputable, trustworthy source for your visitors, and Google will reward you with higher rankings and greater online visibility.
Make sure you revisit and reevaluate YMYL pages often, particularly in fast-moving spaces such as medical technology and treatments, politics, or investments, for example.
What was a great resource last year may be outdated today. You can maximize the ROI of your content by consistently updating what you’ve already invested in creating to keep it performing year after year.
If you need expert help with your SEO or content, please contact us today for a free quote and consultation.
FAQ: How can I ensure my web content meets Google’s YMYL standards for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness?
Creating web content that meets Google’s YMYL standards is essential for maintaining a strong online presence and building trust with your audience. YMYL, which stands for Your Money or Your Life, encompasses content that can directly impact a user’s well-being, finances, or safety.
Here are key strategies to ensure your content adheres to these critical standards:
Understanding YMYL Content
Start by comprehending what falls under the umbrella of YMYL content. Financial advice, medical information, legal guidance, and news are prime examples. Recognize the importance of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in these niches, as Google holds such content to higher standards due to its potential impact on users’ lives.
You want to share your personal experience and opinions. High-quality content frequently showcases the creator’s direct involvement in the subject matter, validating suggestions as tested and verified, ensuring authentic insights.
Demonstrate your expertise through in-depth research, citing reliable sources, and showcasing your qualifications. Include author bios and credentials to lend credibility to your content. Collaborate with industry experts for guest posts or interviews, adding diverse perspectives and enhancing your content’s value.
Build authoritativeness by consistently producing high-quality content over time. Create a content calendar that covers important topics within your niche. Back up your claims with data, case studies, and references to authoritative sources. Encourage user engagement through comments and discussions to show that your audience respects and values your content.
Transparency is key to gaining trust. Disclosure of affiliations, sponsors, and potential conflicts of interest is paramount. Provide accurate and up-to-date information – any outdated or inaccurate details could severely undermine your credibility. Implement strong security measures on your website to protect user data, assuring visitors that their privacy is a priority.
Regularly Updating and Reviewing
Stay current with industry trends and changes in Google’s algorithms. Regularly review and update your content to ensure accuracy and relevance. Collaborate with peers for peer reviews to gain insights and perspectives that can further enhance your content’s quality.
Step-by-Step Procedure: Ensuring YMYL Compliance
- Identify Your Niche: Determine if your content falls under YMYL categories such as health, finance, legal, or safety.
- Research Thoroughly: Conduct comprehensive research on your chosen topic, citing reputable sources.
- Highlight Credentials: Showcase your expertise and credentials in author bios and content introductions.
- Collaborate with Experts: Engage with industry experts for collaborations, interviews, or guest posts.
- Create a Content Calendar: Plan a schedule to consistently produce authoritative content within your niche.
- Reference Authoritative Sources: Support your claims with data, studies, and references from reliable sources.
- Encourage Engagement: Foster user engagement through comments and discussions on your content.
- Ensure Transparency: Disclose affiliations, sponsorships, and potential conflicts of interest.
- Provide Accurate Information: Regularly update your content to maintain accuracy and relevance.
- Prioritize Security: Implement strong security measures to protect user data and privacy.
- Stay Updated: Keep up with industry trends and Google algorithm changes that affect YMYL content.
- Review Content: Conduct periodic content reviews for accuracy and quality.
- Peer Reviews: Collaborate with peers for feedback and insights on your content.
- Improve User Experience – To provide visitors with an effortless browsing experience, provide clear navigation features, and an attractive design to make the experience painless.
- Mobile Optimization: Optimize your site to be visible on mobile devices.
- Page Speed: Improve page loading speed for a better user experience and SEO ranking.
- Structured Data: Implement structured data to enhance search engine understanding of your content.
- Avoid Clickbait: Craft honest, accurate headlines that reflect the content’s purpose.
- Minimize Ads: Avoid excessive ads that can detract from the main content and user experience.
- Monitor Analytics: Regularly analyze user engagement, bounce rates, and traffic sources to refine your strategy.
Ensuring your web content meets Google’s YMYL standards requires a holistic approach prioritizing expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Following these strategies and steps can enhance your online credibility and provide valuable content that genuinely benefits your audience while aligning with Google’s guidelines.