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YMYL: Decoding Your Money or Your Life Website SEO Guidelines

Not sure whether you qualify as a "Your Money or Your Life" website? Need to make sure you follow YMYL guidelines? In this article, I’ll decode the guidelines for creating a successful YMYL website that resonates with your audience and ranks well on Google.

Apr 14, 2023

6 m read

The internet is the go-to source for information and advice on a variety of topics, from financial planning to medical treatments. Since search engines play a critical role in directing users to the information they’re looking for, it’s crucial the information they highlight is both accurate and trustworthy. This is where the concept of YMYL websites comes in. 

What Does YMYL Mean?

YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” and refers to websites that have the potential to impact a user’s financial stability, health, or overall well-being. At first glance, it may seem like most websites don’t have to worry about this. However, the opposite is actually true.

What Are YMYL Websites?

Think about “your money” and the types of websites that may impact it. Websites for financial advisers or tax services probably come to mind. But what about those stock tips you were checking out last week, or the 529 plan info you were reading?

The same goes for “your life.” Medical websites like those listing out symptoms and disorders or describing pharmaceuticals are probably the first ones you think of, but expand the idea of “your life.” When you include your family, then sites offering parenting advice or even car seat reviews can get wrapped up into YMYL as well. News sites that may impact political views or social stability and government sites that are supposed to provide crucial resources or information can all fall under this category. 

How Google Defines YMYL Websites

In its Search Quality Rater Guidelines, Google describes YMYL topics as those that have a high risk of harm because content about these topics “could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society.” 

If you aren’t sure whether your site falls under the YMYL umbrella, ask yourself:

  • Do I offer advice that can impact someone’s financial situation or their quality of life?
  • Does my site offer financial, legal, medical, or wellness advice?
  • Does my site publish news, provide information on current events, or share political opinions?
  • Does the content on my site have the ability to impact societal well-being?

If you answer yes to any of these questions (or even maybe), Google may consider your site a YMYL website. This will impact the standards it applies to your site when it determines how to rank your pages.

How Google Ranks YMYL Websites

Every search engine wants to provide a positive user experience. That means not only making it easy to find information but ensuring the information is reliable. Now, Google and other search engines don’t make value judgments on the information itself. They can’t judge whether meditation is good or bad for your health. Instead, their algorithms look at other factors to determine how reputable a YMYL website is and how to rank it in search results. 

Google relies on E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) and a website’s reputation to determine whether a page features high-quality content. Google can’t — and doesn’t — fact-check the information it features. Rather, it uses these two measures to determine whether it’s reliable and trustworthy.

Here’s an example of Google’s rating process for a YMYL site from its Search Quality Rater Guidelines:

E-E-A-T for YMYL Sites

Let’s take a closer look at what E-E-A-T means since it plays a huge role in ranking YMYL sites. 

E-E-A-T stands for:

  • Experience: Does the author have direct experience with the topic they’re covering?
  • Expertise: Does your content demonstrate expertise on the topic you’re covering? This can include the author’s credentials on the subject matter.
  • Authoritativeness: Is your website authoritative and respected within your industry or field? Mentions or links from other authoritative websites can factor in here.
  • Trustworthiness: Is your website trustworthy and transparent? Factors such as a privacy policy and customer reviews can demonstrate legitimacy.

How E-E-A-T Affects YMYL Websites

For YMYL websites, E-E-A-T is especially critical because of the impact the information can have on a user’s life. Here are a few ways E-E-A-T can affect YMYL websites:

  • Higher search engine rankings: If your website demonstrates high levels of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, you’re more likely to rank higher on search engine results pages.
  • Improved credibility: By demonstrating E-E-A-T, you can improve the credibility of your website, which can lead to increased traffic and user engagement.
  • Better user experience: Websites that demonstrate E-E-A-T are more likely to provide high-quality information and a better user experience, which can result in increased user engagement and conversions.

Improving E-E-A-T for YMYL websites

So, how can you improve your YMYL website’s E-E-A-T? Here are a few key strategies:

  • Provide accurate and up-to-date information backed by credible sources.
  • Use clear and concise language that’s easy to understand, even for users who may not be experts on the topic.
  • Build a strong brand reputation by being transparent, responsive, and engaging with your audience.
  • Demonstrate expertise through your content by showcasing any relevant credentials or experience.
  • Build authoritativeness by obtaining links or mentions from other authoritative websites in your industry or field.

E-E-A-T is not a one-time effort, but an ongoing process that requires a commitment to providing high-quality information and building trust with your audience. Build it into your content strategy to reap the benefits over time.

YMYL Guidelines You Need To Know

If you’ve established that your site — or even just some of your pages — fall under YMYL, keep Google’s YMYL guidelines in mind when creating or updating content.

  • Highlight the author’s experience and expertise. If you have a financial services site and all of your advice is vetted by a financial expert, include their bio and links to their website or social media profiles.
  • Provide relevant and accurate information users can trust. This information must be up-to-date, free of any inaccuracies or errors, and must come from credible sources. Speaking of sources, cite them when possible.
  • Be transparent and trustworthy. Building trust with your audience is critical for YMYL websites. Make sure your website is transparent and that you’re upfront about any potential conflicts of interest. Include a privacy policy or terms of service page to help establish your website’s trustworthiness.
  • Ensure a user-friendly experience. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and that users can find the information they need quickly and easily. 

Best Practices for YMYL Websites

Getting a high page quality rating is critical for YMYL websites. These recommendations can help you show Google Search Quality Raters that your website is trustworthy and full of expert advice, which can help you rank higher in search results.

  • Author Pages: Maintain pages featuring the experience and expertise of the individuals writing or editing your content. 
  • Share Credentials: If you have industry credentials, make sure to share them on your website as this helps establish authority and trust.
  • QA Everything: If you don’t already have a compliance check in place, establish a quality assurance process to ensure everything you publish is accurate to the best of your knowledge. 
  • Cite Sources: If you mention a study or discuss survey findings, link to the original source. This transparency helps lend credibility to your content.
  • Link to Other Credible Sites: When linking to sources and additional resources, check that they’re credible, too. For example, a medical site can link to the FDA or CDC websites.
  • Stay Away From Clickbait: Your titles should be relevant and honestly relay what your page is about. Avoid clickbaity titles that can make your content seem sensational or unreliable.
  • Use Metadata: Use metadata, such as title tags and meta descriptions, to accurately describe the content of your pages. This helps search engines better understand the content of your website and can improve your search engine rankings.
  • Create Relevant, Accurate Content: Above all, make sure your content is relevant and accurate to your audience. YMYL websites must provide reliable and up-to-date information that users can trust, so use that as the north star for all content creation.
  • Invest in Content Research: Creating good content takes time. Don’t cut corners — implement a rigorous research process when writing content.
  • Use Appropriate Schema: Structured data (schema) allows you to tell search engines what a web page is about. There are different types of schema, so if appropriate, use the right structured data to help search bots categorize your content. For example, you can implement article schema on your news articles.

Support Your YMYL Website With Quality SEO

An experienced SEO agency can provide you with the expertise and guidance you need to optimize your YMYL website for search engines and help you establish your website’s authority and trustworthiness. Learn more about how our SEO agency can help propel your website to the top of page one — schedule a free consultation today.

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