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?
What Are Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Webpages?
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.
Why Is YMYL Important to SEO?
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 affiliate or any other monetized links.
Website publishers need to 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.
How Do You Optimize for YMYL?
You can’t talk YMYL without running into another impactful acronym: E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness). E-A-T is not a ranking factor; rather, it is how Google describes what it’s looking for in quality web content.
E-A-T is important on all types of websites and pages, from forums with strictly user-generated content to fashion blogs, gossip websites and more.
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-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-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 meets 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-A-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-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.
Raise the Bar for 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.