Google's continuous updates, particularly regarding YMYL (Your Money Your Life) websites and the E-A-T principle (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), aim to deliver top-notch content to users.
Often referred to as the "Medic" update, Google's 2018 algorithm shift regarding YMYL content led to substantial fluctuations in SERP rankings. Once the dust settled, Google's expectations for YMYL content creators and websites at large became clear: produce high-quality content and ensure an exceptional user experience.
In this guide, we'll explore effective strategies to boost the traffic of YMYL sites. We'll also examine successful YMYL site examples and common pitfalls encountered by content creators in this category.
This classification includes content that has the potential to impact a person's life positively or negatively. YMYL content typically originates from trustworthy and knowledgeable sources.
According to Google's Search Quality General Guidelines as of October 2021, YMYL content usually falls into these categories:
News and current events
Civics, government, and law
Health and safety
Groups of people
Other topics (e.g., fitness, nutrition, housing)
If you're passionate about home improvement and you're looking to enhance your DIY skills, or if you're an aspiring chef seeking culinary tips, you'd probably rely on reputable sources like HGTV or Food Network for expert guidance.
As Google users, we expect and, for the most part, receive content from reliable sources backed by research. Google's strict YMYL content guidelines help ensure that trustworthy information prevails in most searches.
Consider Google's perspective on a webpage's purpose. Ultimately, creating valuable, factual, high-quality content is what users seek. In essence, if your content aids people and delivers a positive user experience, Google will grant it a higher page ranking.
Applying YMYL Best Practices to Your Strategy
Today, YMYL best practices are not limited to YMYL sites alone; they are fundamental for all web pages and websites. Incorporating these practices into your strategy is paramount to demonstrate your site's E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) and gain the trust of your audience.
1. Craft High-Quality Content
Google strives to provide the most pertinent, high-quality content in its search results, including YMYL queries. To meet these standards, ensure your content is comprehensive and adheres to Google's Search Quality Guidelines. Here's what a high-quality piece of content from a reputable source should entail:
Clearly identify the author, reviewer, and fact-checker to establish content transparency and topic expertise. Link to author bios, showcasing their qualifications, professional experience, and education.
Use credible sources and include in-text citations and a reference list for users to explore further.
Address the user's query promptly and comprehensively. Provide easily digestible definitions and key takeaways.
Offer different media types, such as videos, to cater to diverse user preferences.
Reinforce the topic with real-world examples to facilitate user understanding.
Enhance the user experience with navigation aids like a table of contents, avoiding spammy pop-ups or interstitials, and placing ads thoughtfully to avoid disrupting the content flow.
2. REGULARLY UPDATE YOUR CONTENT
High-quality content is valuable only if it remains relevant. Refresh your content periodically, aiming for annual updates as a general guideline. Consider revising content every three to five months in fast-paced industries or highly competitive niches.
Focus on updating titles, metadata, and headers, and gradually work on improving content flow, graphics, and user experience. Don't forget to refresh both poorly performing and top-performing content.
3. SHOWCASE E-A-T
While E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, it significantly influences your content's ranking potential. This aspect is particularly crucial for YMYL content. Google's John Mueller has hinted at E-A-T's growing importance for YMYL topics. Here's how to emphasize E-A-T on your site:
Ensure each blog post or article has an attributed author with links to detailed author bios highlighting their expertise.
REVIEW BY EXPERTS
For medical topics and similar fields, consider having content reviewed by experts and link to an About page detailing their qualifications.
Display formal and informal qualifications on your site, primarily on the About page for general expertise and on individual author pages for specific expertise.
Establish your site's authority on its respective topics through About pages, showcasing your history and commitment to providing high-quality, reliable content.
Cite sources to enhance transparency and credibility, ensuring that cited sources are themselves reputable and trustworthy.
EXAMPLES OF YMYL WEBSITES ACROSS VARIOUS NICHES
Let's examine some YMYL websites from different niches to understand how they implement YMYL SEO principles effectively:
Areas of Improvement: More comprehensive author information for property insights, regular property listing updates.
Niche: Food and Recipes
Noteworthy Features: A vast collection of recipes, user ratings, cooking tips.
Areas of Improvement: Consistency in updating recipes, providing more detailed author credentials.
Just like any other website, YMYL sites are subject to manual action penalties if they fail to adhere to Google's quality guidelines. However, the consequence of not meeting these guidelines for YMYL sites is typically limited to a decline in rankings, rather than severe penalties. To avoid such a fate, simply play by the rules:
Truthfully showcase E-A-T.
Create and maintain high-quality content.
Regularly refresh your content.
Provide an excellent user experience.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YMYL
Each of these strategies contributes to enhancing the quality of your YMYL content by bolstering E-A-T. For content that can influence decision-making, accurate and trustworthy information is paramount. Google's higher standards for YMYL content ensure that reliable content from authoritative sources is readily accessible to all users.
When creating content, always keep E-A-T in mind. For YMYL sites, E-A-T is more than a guideline; it's a critical factor in determining your success.