SEO STRATEGY TAKE GOOGLE INTO ACCOUNT YMYL Optimization tips
Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to improve the quality of the search results. The traffic team analyzed the characteristics of ranking in Google, taking into account recent innovations and the emphasis on expert content.
We analyzed the YMYL factors and created a website optimization checklist, supplemented with comments from experts with relevant experience and cases.
What are YMYL and EAT
YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” – “Your money or your life”. This phrase describes the content on the site that can directly or indirectly affect people’s financial well-being, health, or safety.
The acronym first appeared in the Google Assessor Guide in 2014, but most webmasters heard about it in 2018 when many medical information sites lost ground (the so-called “medical update”). The rules of the game have changed dramatically and most SEOs didn’t understand what to do next.
All major updates to Google’s algorithms are proprietary. For example, in July 2014, the received search engines patent for the “Algorithm for processing web pages depending on the quality of the content”. This is the legendary “Panda”, which was created to remove search results from unwanted content. She fights left opomoys, doorways, and other evil spirits.
The situation is similar to YMYL. In August 2018, Google mowed down the medical problem and any appeared in the same month patent. It is clear from the description that this is a neural network that sorts sites by subject, level of expertise, authority, and other quality indicators.
Following the “medical update”, Google has updated the several times, shedding assessors’ guidelight on the methodology for assessing the quality of pages and projects. This is a large 169-page document and contains a lot of useful information.
At the heart of YMYL are the criteria for evaluating the quality of EAT pages. These are three important characteristics: expertise, authority, and reliability. They are used by reviewers to rate the pages being reviewed.
Many webmasters questioned the rating from reviewers, but a screenshot from Google’s internal ecosystem proves that expertise, authority, and credibility are important to a search engine. Reviewers collect feedback so that algorithms can distinguish high-quality pages from those of little use in the future.
It’s fair to say that the ranking algorithms are more complex than the webmasters think. The number of factors varies, according to various estimates, from 200 to several thousand. Search engine representatives have repeatedly noted that the sites do not have an EAT rating. The reviewers’ ratings have no direct impact on the site’s ranking in search results, but they do the page quality assessment algorithms.
Which niches are under scrutiny?
There is a lot of controversy about this, although the reviewer’s guide clearly defines the content categories that fall under YMYL. These are finance, law, shopping, health, safety, and other topics.
Not all segments of a particular niche impact financial well-being or health. Sports News, for example, does not fall under YMYL, and content about presidential elections or legislation is certainly yes.
For convenience, we have divided the topics into three zones based on the degree of decreasing influence of YMYL factors, so that you can easily determine which zone your project falls into.
- Red zone. Projects in medicine, finance, e-commerce. Real estate agents, online stores, online pharmacies.
- Orange zone. Case law, news content on global events, scientific publications. Legal articles projects about science and society.
- Green zone. Fitness and sports, food, hobbies. And other niches that indirectly influence user choice.
Most of Google’s pages and projects are classified as YMYL. There is content that may not directly affect health or safety but may tip in favor of a particular choice. After looking at a review for a new iPhone, users don’t necessarily have to buy it, but they can remember the shortcomings they read in the article and choose a different smartphone.
Sports news is not YMYL content but must be accurate and up to date. In every niche, the quality of the content is paramount. Especially with subjects included in the “red” or “orange” zone.
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Expertise, Reliability, and Authority
Let’s dig deeper into the criteria for assessing the quality of Google’s pages.
Expertise – confirmation of the author’s qualifications. The Google Assessor Guide says content should be written by experts. This is important in any niche, but especially those industries that affect people’s finances and health.
Imagine a serious medical portal that tells you how to treat pneumonia with folk remedies. Such content should not rank highly as it can cause serious harm to human health. Similar requirements apply to articles on finance, law, and other topics.
The best confirmation of expertise are diplomas, certificates, profiles on authoritative Russian and foreign sources. Medical content should be written by a qualified physician, not a freshman who gets lost in basic concepts.
Authority is often confused with expertise. The difference is that the expert is not always the default authority. For example, a doctor can be recognized well offline, but there is little information about him on the Internet, except for reviews on social networks. It is very important to Google that YMYL content is written by an authoritative person.
An opinion leader’s article is automatically considered useful and important. Local and global influencers value their reputation and will not publish low-quality content. It is very difficult to pump authority from the start, so in every niche, you can count on the fingers of recognizable people.
The final factor of EAT is the veracity and relevance of the content. It’s okay if the article was written by an expert and authoritative person in the niche, but if the data is very out of date, it shouldn’t appear too high in the search results. It is not just about the news with a limited “freshness” period. Most content on any topic quickly becomes outdated. Medical research, financial forecasting, and even legislation have become part of history over time. You need to rewrite the content or update the old ones with the changes.
The main mistake SEOs make is a frivolous attitude to the new reality in SEO. Many people work according to old methods and do not want to change anything. You can generate entertaining content and not think of YMYL or EAT, but to make money from it you need massive amounts of traffic. The most profitable niches are closely related to expert content and exacting requirements.
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Official webmaster search engine guides have always provided very vague estimates of quality projects, and SEOs had to rely on their experience and the cases of colleagues. The Assessor’s Guide is one of the few documents with clear wording for assessments. They’re for reviewers, but it’s not hard for webmasters to understand what Google wants.
We increase the expertise of content
For every project, you will find authors with real expertise. It’s long, expensive, and difficult, but the result is worth it. Those who plan to develop a “white” project and want to make money from it for at least 5-10 years should put quality first.
If you are going to create a new Apple smartphone reviewer, find people who are living on this topic. They watch presentations, follow the news, argue with other fans, and know the features of smartphones by heart. If they don’t know how to generate content, add editors to the process. With this workflow, you should get expert content that is pleasant to read. Ideally, you should find a ready-made expert with more or less pumped-up social networks and constantly involve him in the work on the project. Author recognition will help build initial audiences in the beginning and build search engine trust.
If you can’t hire cool experts, use them to check your content. Influencers are happy to agree to comment and give their opinion on interesting topics.
We increase public confidence
Reviewers and users must be sure of the reliability and relevance of the information on the site. You can tell cool content from rewriting in a matter of minutes.
Add personalization for each article – assign an author to it, talk about his achievements. Create pages summarizing the project goals, team, and owner. Publish contacts that you can contact to solve various problems.
In researching the Pixel Tool’s importance of EAT factors in Google, project, and author information are among the most important attributes.
Consult authoritative sources in articles to confirm the accuracy of the information. This is important for search algorithms and humans. Each niche has a pool of renowned projects that are unconditionally trusted.
Creating added value
Add useful tools that can improve your project in the eyes of your users. There is no need to create unique services for the site. Enough small modules that, for example, help you calculate the costs of car maintenance or the price of a tour to Thailand.
Install a handy comment form, implement a user’s personal account, ratings, and other features. Analyze your competitors and figure out how to beat them. If you don’t have a budget for expert content, the added value gives you an edge over behavioral factors and direct traffic.
Flag affiliate links
A lot of sites make money by promoting products or services – and that’s okay. Google representatives have repeatedly said that they are not against monetization, but only if it is native. Webmasters often argue over approaches to affiliate link posting, and there is no consensus on the matter.
Research by foreign SEO specialists shows that Google keeps a close eye on sites that generate revenue through affiliate networks. After the January Core Update, there were many projects masking referral links among the losers.
SEO influencer Marie Haynes did an in-depth analysis and found that the winning projects openly talked about affiliate links and used native product widgets.
Google knows how to determine the quality of partner sites and penalizes links to potentially dangerous sources. If you want to make money on affiliate networks, USA’s TOP affiliate programs ProTraffic. It brings together the best niche players who have earned high ratings for years.
Remove Intrusive Ads
Google has long struggled with aggressive ad formats. The search engine pays special attention to full-screen formats that most annoy users. But there are no native block filters on the first screen. Although many webmasters think otherwise.
Avoid dimming push notifications, aggressive popups, and full-screen formats. You can leave Google’s “splash screens” and experiment with full screens of YAN, but ideally, you should remove them too.
In May 2020Google announced major changes to the impact of loading speed on rankings. They will start the live search in 2021 and there is very little time left to prepare their projects and adjust to the Core Web Vitals metrics.
There is in the Webmaster report that you can track Internet Key Metrics. They are slow to update but give a general idea of the performance of individual pages and the project as a whole.
Google is increasingly shifting its focus to fast sites. You don’t have to use AMP to get good grades. Enough “light” template with a minimalist design.
Internal optimization is important, but without external, it will be difficult to get good results. A site’s potential is only revealed in conjunction with a high-quality link mass. The time for buying backlinks on exchanges is slowly passing. Outreach and natural mentions come out on top.
It is best if the recognition of the project grows on its own. Authoritative projects post links for free, users post on social networks. To create a snowball effect, you need high-quality content and a user-friendly website.
Checklist for YMYL Factors
To increase the SEO rating of a project, taking YMYL into account, you have to put in a lot of work. We’ve collected recommendations that will come in handy in any niche. You can perform step by step or select tasks that have not yet been performed.
- Add information about the project, content attributes, and unique attributes to the main page.
- Create pages with team details, editorial policies, advertiser relationships, contacts, and a feedback form.
- Add the authors for each article. Create widgets with brief information about them.
- Create separate author pages with detailed information and a list of all posts.
- Refer to authoritative sources in the materials.
- Include the date of publication and update in the source code, make the microdata article, review, or anything else appropriate to the format of the material.
- Integrate value-added elements into your article: reviews, comparisons, collections, downloadable content.
- Constantly work with comments: quick moderation, quick replies, motivation to discuss content.
- Avoid masking referral links and redirects.
- Mark affiliate links with rel = “sponsored” attribute, mark visually via CSS. Where possible, use product widgets that display information about the market.
- Eliminate responsiveness issues, optimize the mobile version of the site.
- Remove aggressive ads that spoil the user experience.
- Install an SSL certificate.
- Optimize site performance for Core Web Vitals statistics.
- Eliminate standard link buying schemes for outreach, crowd marketing, and viral promotion.
- Develop social media communities to build audiences and build brand awareness.
Algorithms YMYL Cases There is no
YMYL filter in Google. For SEO links, ads, and security issues, the search engine imposes visible penalties in Search Console, which can be tracked and a request can be sent to lift restrictions. If the site has issues with content quality or other EAT factors, rankings will drop sharply, and with it traffic.
We have collected several cases that clearly show that the problem with YMYL exists in different niches, but it can be successfully addressed.
Given: 2 sites for Forex and 1 for cryptocurrencies. At the time of the so-called honey update – or rather after it, because updates don’t reach all sites immediately – traffic on all three sources started to drop. Within a month, the drop reached 50-60% of the organic matter.
The experiment involved a Forex site for Latin America and the Southeast Administrative District. The site had no trust elements. Since they wrote a lot about the YMYL-EAT filter at the time, we realized that our site is covered because it collects money from users.
What they did
- We added contacts in the form of a new contacts page (just one geo out of several – Colombia – but that was enough), connected social networks, GMB, and some directories (NAP).
- Extensive “about us”.
- We have posted a picture of our CEO on the main page.
- We rethought the crowd and SERM strategy and started to work more in this regard.
We also planned to introduce an author for internal and external articles, but there is a new update in September and the traffic from daily indicators returns to us + continues to grow.
Commercial website about medicine
Middle SEO specialist at the internet marketing agency Webline Promotion
Site-Site – an ophthalmic center in Moscow. The main direction is laser vision correction. Before the September 2019 update, there was a traffic stagnation in Google and Yandex.
Since September 24, 2019, the traffic from the Google search engine has decreased by 2 times, the largest decrease is for information pages.
What they did
One of the most important tasks after the update was to work out the structure of the site to eliminate incomplete duplicates and low-quality pages:
- 90% of the articles in the “News” category are removed, as the pages are half empty. and contained non-unique text with links to the media. Only important reports for the patients of the center remained in the news.
- The structure of the blog has been elaborated, low quality, and few useful articles without traffic have been removed. For some pages the semantics were rebuilt, information queries were selected, new or old text was written.
- Duplicate services have been intentionally removed. For example, “Treatment of myopia” and “Correction of myopia with a laser” – the service is known, but the names of the development.
Work was carried out with the EAT factors, which later allowed not only to restore Google traffic but also to increase traffic in Yandex:
- Licenses, certificates, and diplomas were added to the doctor’s page.
- On each page of the doctor, a block with reviews of real patients about him is displayed.
- A block with information about the content author has been added to information pages. The block displays the name of the doctor, his photo, position, and a link to a personal page on the site. Thus, we have confirmed the expertise of the content and the competence of its authors in the blog.
- The information pages have added a price list for related services, a feedback block, a realization, i For example, on the page about the features of vision correction for myopia 40 years old, a price list for laser vision correction is displayed, a link to a commercial page, an appointment block