April 6, 2016
Google’s ever changing search engine algorithm has long been considered to be the standard that content marketers must adhere to. The only problem with this is that, in addition to continually changing, Google’s search algorithm is really complicated. In fact, it is so complex that Google’s own engineers often struggle to explain it all. What people may not realize is that in addition to its algorithm, Google also uses human evaluators to determine the quality of the websites that show up in SERPs. Understanding these standards has also been difficult because Google has kept them hidden. Now, Google has released a document explaining everything about their search quality evaluator guidelines. This is a wonderful thing, except that the document is 160 pages long. That’s a lot to digest if you are a busy CMO, content writer, or SEO specialist.
Fortunately, everything that you really need to understand can be summed up in two acronyms EAT and YMYL. Keep reading to learn what each one means, and the action steps that you can take to ensure that your content meets Google’s search engine quality guidelines.
Your Money or Your Life
YMYL or Your Money or Your Life is a phrase that is used to describe webpages that, if poorly written or designed, could have significant negative impact on the people visiting those pages. Specifically, these are pages that have the potential to affect one’s finances, physical and mental health, future
happiness, safety, etc. Here are the types of pages that Google has designated as YMYL pages:
● Pages that contain medical advice and information, or health information that can impact the physical well-being of readers;
● Pages that ask for personally or financially identifying information that could be used for fraud or identity theft;
● Pages offering advice or information on areas of life that could have long term implications including, buying a car, purchasing a home, and parenting;
● Pages giving legal or financial advice that could have significant impact;
● Pages where people use their financial information to initiate financial transactions, including making purchases.
Google’s new guidelines also detail which websites are not YMYL websites. These include entertainment websites, humor, gossip, and more.
Obviously, the point of identifying these YMYL webpages is to ensure that they meet the highest quality standards. This is a sensible and responsible
thing to do on Google’s part because of the harm that could potentially be done if these types of webpages contained inaccurate, low-quality information, or worse, were deliberately fraudulent. According to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines: “We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, or wealth.”
Meeting or Exceeding YMYL Standards
If you believe one or more of the pages on your website could be designated as a YMYL page, it is extremely important to take action to ensure that you
meet those standards. If you aren’t sure if you have a YMYL page, better to be safe than sorry. Your visitors certainly won’t be offended if you are more
vigilant about quality standards. Fortunately, Google is very clear about what it wants to see on pages that provide life-impacting information and advice, or that ask for personal and financial information. Take a look at your pages and go over the following checklist.
❏ Contact information is complete, accurate and up-to-date. It includes physical address, names of contact people, e-mail, phone, map location and any other information that can expedite things for somebody wishing to make contact;
❏ The website has been recently updated and there are plans in place to keep all YMYL pages up-to-date;
❏ All YMYL content is written by experts and will be reviewed and edited frequently;
❏ Reputation has been established through the input or endorsement of professional organizations or qualified individuals.
Taking action to fix any issues that cannot be immediately checked off will go a long way towards meeting YMYL standards and pleasing the human side of Google’s quality ranking process.
Expertise Authoritativeness Trustworthiness
Expertise Authoritativeness Trustworthiness or EAT is the phrase that describes the standards by which evaluators rank webpage quality. As expressed in Google’s newly released guidelines: “High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic.”
Pages that are determined to be of high quality meet the following standards:
● The content of the page is of high quality. It reflects expertise, is written in an authoritative manner, and is considered to be trustworthy;
● The website contains an acceptable amount of supplemental information that is of value to visitors such as contact information, about us, or customer
● There should be enough main content to answer the questions and provide the information that users visiting the page are seeking;
● The website ranks high when it comes to reputation with regard to the content that it is known for based on reading reviews and what is said about the website on social media. The page is well designed and intuitive so that users can easily find the information they are seeking;
● The website is updated frequently and edited for accuracy and quality;
● Supplementary content is used to improve user experience and to make the page more enjoyable for visitors.
It should be noted that the definition of the word expert is somewhat fluid. In some cases an expert must be a person who is credentialed in some way. This standard applies to those who are giving financial advice, providing medical information, or otherwise producing content that could potentially have significant life impact. In other words, the standards that apply to YMYL content. With other pages, the standard of everyday expertise is applied.
Essentially, this means that enough expertise must be applied to the creation of content on those pages that they are informational, useful, detailed,
relevant, and up-to-date.
Applying EAT Standards to Your Webpages
How do you determine if your pages meet EAT standards? Here are some questions to consider as you evaluate the pages that your visitors see:
● From the perspective of a first time visitor, how easy is it to find answers to the questions your website claims to answer?
● Considering the type of content that you serve, are the people writing or editing that content qualified to do so?
● Does the manner in which your content is written inspire trust and confidence?
● Does your website contain contact information, company profile information, policy pages, and customer service information?
● Have you provided content beyond MC that improves user experience?
● Do you perform frequent edits, updates, and quality evaluations of your content?
● Have you established a reputation among website visitors of being a source of quality, relevant information?
If any of the answers to these questions are no, you will want to take action to fix them, and then put a plan in place to ensure that these issues
continue to be addressed in the future.
Julie Ellis is a passionate blogger, marketer and traveler. As a business writer, she’s been featured on such websites as Business2Community, SocialMediaToday, jeffbullas.com and others. When she’s not engaged in helping her customers and students, you can find her reading articles and books.
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