As Lyrical Communications’ Head of Marketing, I’m responsible for promoting and overseeing Lyrical’s three brands – InstallerSHOW, InstallerONLINE and elemental across all marketing channels – including our websites. In this mini-series of articles on improving your online presence, I’m looking at some of the ways you can optimise your sites and bring value to your audience.
YMYL in website terms, stands for Your Money or Your Life – but don’t panic – it isn’t as daunting as it sounds!
Google recently updated its vast Search Quality Rater Guidelines relating to YMYL content and as it’s always a good idea to keep up to date with Google’s ever-changing recommendations, I’m going to go through some of their advice in this article.
In Google’s guidelines, it outlines Your Money or Your Life content as “Pages [that] could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.”
What counts as YMYL content?
Some examples of the types of sites that could fall under this remit would be news sites, medical sites, e-commerce sites, education sites and those carrying legal or financial information. Because these sites might carry info that would potentially impact on users’ future happiness, health, financial stability or safety, they are held to much higher page quality standards by Google.
Although the page quality ratings passed to Google by its human Search Quality Raters don’t directly affect how pages are ranked, they still carry weight because Google uses this feedback to test its algorithms, so it all feeds into the end user’s search engine experience.
If you’re responsible for a website’s content, you yourself will need to assess whether your site falls under the YMYL remit. It’s worth noting that Google will not tell you if it’s considering your site under these parameters, nor is there a way to find out if your site is under scrutiny for these.
The safest approach would be to assume that your site will be under heavy scrutiny from quality raters and plan your content with this in mind.
News sites might rank high on YMYL for the site’s homepage and news articles, but not for opinion articles as the content of these can be subjective and may not contain facts. A good rule of thumb would be to consider whether advice or instructions are being offered. If they aren’t, it’s likely that the content wouldn’t be considered YMYL content.
I mentioned Google’s E-E-A-T approach (referring to Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) in my previous article. E-E-A-T and YMYL should be approached as mutually beneficial and working in tandem, rather than as separate considerations, as it all feeds into how Google views your site and ranks it for quality.
Some things to consider for YMYL content
Site usability: Is your website well built, with a user-friendly layout and design? Ideally your site will have been built with the end user in mind – this might sound obvious, but many sites are built when a business or organisation is at a particular point in their growth and what may have seemed a promising idea a few years ago, might now be clunky and obsolete for the site’s visitors. If your site is aimed at a specific audience, it pays to use that audience for initial testing and market research. Ask the audience what they want from the site, rather than assuming that you already know. Audiences and their needs can change quickly in a fast-paced, information dense climate.
Quality content: Ideally, if your site is covering YMYL subjects, your content will be professionally written, free of errors and typos and will cover the topics you’re discussing in a reasonable amount of depth, with articles of 1,000+ words. Author bios help here as Google will be looking for the writer of the content, so having consistent author info can be a plus. If you don’t feel you have the required skills on your existing team to produce quality content, consider using outside experts in their field to create and supply regular content for you.
Useful links, resources and references: Your site should include references to other, relevant information sources and carry links to sites outside of your own at every opportunity as this gives Google confidence that you are not only carrying legitimate, useful information, but are also directing users to other, reputable sources. The old days of link farms are over though, so don’t be tempted to go down that route as Google could penalise your site for attempting to manipulate it.
Ensuring your site ranks well
Improving your site’s E-A-T criteria is a sure-fire way to help your site rank well in Google’s search engine results pages. Making sure your content is up to date, relevant, useful and reliable for your users will only help your YMYL status. Although Google doesn’t take action to penalise YMYL sites, a lack of attention to the areas I’ve described can lead to a slow slide in search engine rankings.
So, to stay on top of search results, keep on top of your website’s content and make sure you always have the end user in mind. And be patient – changes made to your site and your content can take a while to manifest in results. While you may not see the immediate effects, you can be sure that Google and its raters will be taking note and, more importantly, you’ll be offering your site visitors a much better user experience.
There are many factors that online content providers need to consider. Feel free to reach out on email – you can contact me on email@example.com – if you’d like to chat about any of these points further.