Your Money Your Life (YMYL) Website SEO

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  • SEO success for YMYL sites depends on high E-A-T. Google has the highest E-A-T standards for YMYL sites than any other kind of site.
  • There is no way to instantly increase your E-A-T. Instead, focus on a long-term strategy of producing high quality content based on subject matter expertise.
  • For an in-depth look at what Google wants from YMYL sites, consult the Search Quality Raters Guidelines.
  • When outsourcing SEO, look for an agency that will work in partnership with your team and defer to your subject matter expertise before optimizing content for SEO.

There are certain SEO wins you can gain quickly. We’ve covered a few of our favorite tactics, from capitalizing on striking distance keywords to setting up a Google My Business page. For the most part, though, ranking well on Google SERPs requires a consistent long-term strategy of filling your site with high quality pages. This is especially true for YMYL sites.

Google’s John Mueller insists that there is no magic trick to increasing rankings for YMYL sites overnight. Instead, it all comes down to the quality of your content: in other words, your E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness).

But there are some guidelines that can help you boost the E-A-T of your YMYL site over time. Keep reading to learn what the experts suggest.

What is YMYL?

YMYL stands for Your Money, Your Life. The term refers to the fact that YMYL content can directly impact the reader’s happiness, health, safety, or finances if presented inaccurately or deceptively. Typically, these sites fall in the medical, legal, or financial fields – think an ecommerce site selling medical devices, a site for a law firm, or a CPA or financial planner’s website.

However, even websites that fall outside of these categories are considered YMYL by some. Marie Haynes of Marie Haynes Consulting argues that even an ecommerce site selling something as inconsequential as ballpoint pens could be considered YMYL if customers are putting their credit card information into the site.

Semrush highlights the following types of content that can also fall under YMYL according to Google:

  • News and current events on business, science, politics, or technology
  • Scientific information
  • Government, law, and civics-related topics
  • Shopping information, such as product guides for the purpose of researching purposes
  • Advice on high-stakes topics, such as physical and mental health, parenting, or home remodeling; or hobbies that require expertise, such as playing an instrument
  • Information on people of particular ethnicities, races, religions, nationalities, sexualities, etc.

Essentially, YMYL sites present information to readers on high-stakes topics. That’s why, according to Google’s John Mueller, Google holds YMYL sites to the highest standards for E-A-T.

A review of E-A-T

To understand the importance of E-A-T for YMYL sites, it helps to review what E-A-T actually means. In order to ensure readers’ lives or finances are not adversely affected by information in the web content they find, Google works to ensure its algorithms only serve up content that has demonstrable:

  • Expertise – The site’s schema and on-page content (such as author information) clearly show a level of experience and expertise in the subject area
  • Authority – The information presented is trusted by other subject matter experts or thought leaders, possibly evident through high quality mentions or backlinks
  • Trustworthiness – The content, authoring information, and business information are all accurate and verifiable

Unlike more concrete ranking factors such as page speed and meta tags, E-A-T is not something that can simply be measured and optimized overnight. Keep reading to learn more.

YMYL website SEO and E-A-T: It’s “not that simple”

In the same discussion cited above, SEOs asked Mueller for tips on how to increase a YMYL site’s E-A-T. Mueller emphasized that there’s no magic trick. Instead, sites need to focus on increasing their E-A-T through a steady long-term strategy of producing high quality content based on subject matter expertise.

Of course, if you’re a business owner, you probably are an expert in your field. The key is to demonstrate this expertise, authority, and trustworthiness as clearly as possible on your site. The following tips can help you do just that:

Tip 1: Consult the Search Quality Raters Guidelines (Search QRG).

Among many other SEO experts, Marie Haynes suggests consulting Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines for an in-depth look at how Google aims to measure quality. These guidelines don’t actually explain how the algorithms work, but rather the standard the algorithms are supposed to achieve. Haynes describes them as a “textbook” for measuring how well the algorithms are currently doing their job.

Because these guidelines include specific characteristics demonstrated by high quality pages, they’re a valuable tool for getting your site up to speed.

Tip 2: Highlight author expertise.

There’s only one way to achieve the E in E-A-T, and that’s to make sure your content is based on subject matter expertise. Financial, medical, and other YMYL information should be written by experts (think lawyers, doctors, etc.) whenever possible. If not, it should at least be reviewed by experts before publication.

Haynes suggests implementing author schema to communicate expertise to Google as clearly as possible. This includes creating a full, detailed bio page for all authors detailing their expertise. When content has at least been reviewed by experts, this should be highlighted explicitly in the content.

Tip 3: Get people talking.

So, what about the A and the T? Another recommendation from Haynes is to get good reviews as well as high-quality mentions, such as from Wikipedia, authoritative websites, and forums. Another option is to actually create your own Wikipedia page. Check out our blog on the topic to see if this is the right move for your brand.

Tip 4: Build up brand presence.

If your E-A-T is suffering, this doesn’t mean your SEO hopes are entirely dashed. You can still establish a trustworthy brand presence by building a community in your field while improving your E-A-T in the background.

Use social media to highlight what makes your brand stand apart and to share quality content that is written by experts. Don’t be afraid to curate content that hasn’t been created by your brand, such as interesting news articles from your field – if it’s what your followers are interested in reading, it still may help turn them into customers.

Note that building a brand presence isn’t a substitute for E-A-T. Good marketing should always be based on trustworthy, accurate information. However, it is a way to start building connections and an audience while you work on your site’s on-page E-A-T factors such as author bios and off-page factors such as quality backlinks.

Tip 5: Work in partnership with SEO teams.

Believe it or not, YMYL sites can and do benefit from outsourcing SEO and even content marketing. The trick is to look for an agency that will work with you in partnership, becoming a part of your team and deferring to your expertise from day one of your SEO and content strategies.

At RMG, this is exactly how we work with our YMYL clients, utilizing their subject area expertise to produce and review content while using our own SEO expertise to make sure it gets seen by the readers who need it. If this sounds like the right kind of partnership for you, reach out to the team today.

Author avatar
Mariah Muller
Mariah is the Content Specialist at Redefine Marketing Group, supporting editorial operations for our clients' blogs and other written content. She studied Spanish Language and Literature at UC Berkeley and has worked in a variety of fields, including tutoring and law. She lives, writes, and watches too much TV in Los Angeles.
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