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The internet has just about every type of content you can imagine (and some you’d prefer not to imagine). But it’s pretty clear to all of us that some of that content is more important than other content. As an extreme example, information on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on someone choking is more important than Game of Thrones fan fiction — no one’s life can be saved with fan fiction.
Google, always eager to give people the best, most relevant results in its searches, recognizes this hierarchy — and it values some types of content more than others, accordingly. But how exactly does this distinction work? And how can you take advantage of it?
That’s where YMYL comes into play.
What Is YMYL In SEO?
YMYL stands for “your money or your life,” but don’t worry, it’s not a threat. Instead, it’s a description of a particular kind of content. As the name suggests, YMYL refers to content that has the power to influence a major decision related to a person’s money or their life. This content is treated as more important than other types of content and therefore is held to a higher quality standard.
As Google has stated in the past, “We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact a person’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”
My Heimlich maneuver example from the introduction of this article fits perfectly here. It’s a piece of content that could possibly save a person’s life if it’s well-written, informative and concise. Content that advises a person how to manage their life savings for retirement could be considered similarly important.
There are many types of YMYL content for Google to consider in its algorithm, as it’s not confined to one industry or genre. It’s a bit hard to tell exactly what’s included and what isn’t (since there’s no comprehensive index for us to review), but these are the types of content we generally consider to be included:
• News and current events.
• Government, legal and civics.
• Medical science and health safety.
• Information for groups (this could include groups based on veteran status, religious affiliation, ethnicity and other parameters).
The Big Takeaway: Why YMYL Matters
So, what’s the bottom line here?
Content that has the power to influence a person’s health and finances is treated as more important than other content — and is evaluated with more scrutiny. If you want any chance of ranking highly with YMYL content, you’ll need to make it as high-quality as possible.
What can you do to increase the quality of your written work?
Using EAT To Make Better YMYL Content
Hopefully, introducing a new acronym at this point won’t be too confusing.
EAT is a mnemonic acronym that makes it easier to remember the three most important characteristics of what Google considers to be “quality” content — content that is expert, authoritative and trustworthy. If you can make all your YMYL content with expertise, authority and trust, you’ll be in a great position.
So, how can you do it?
Have experts write your content. If you have experts already working for your organization, have them write your best content. Otherwise, work to hire people who are seasoned, experienced experts in their field.
Vet your sources. When researching your chosen topic, vet your sources. You’re getting your information from another website, but where are they getting it? If you’re interviewing someone, what makes them qualified to speak on this subject?
Cite your sources. Always make sure you cite your sources. It can make your content more authoritative and provide a way for your readers to fact-check you.
Avoid misinformation or misdirection. This should go without saying, but any evidence of misinformation or misleading your audience is treated harshly with YMYL content. Strive for accuracy and sincerity.
Be thorough. Be as thoroughly descriptive as possible in your content. Cite statistics, mention counterarguments, and try to clear up possible misconceptions proactively.
Write professionally. Again, this should be a given, but your work needs to be articulate and easy to read. If it’s full of simple mistakes or if it’s hard to process, it’s not going to rank.
Make updates. Your content won’t remain perfectly accurate forever. As new information unfolds, it’s important to go back and update your work.
Collect feedback and edit. It’s also a good idea to get feedback from expert peers and readers — and make edits as necessary.
Ideally, you should make an effort to improve the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of all the content you produce. This is especially true if you want to dominate search engine results pages (SERPs) for terms related to your industry. But if you’re writing YMYL content, it’s even more important — and not something you can afford to neglect.
Originally appeared in Forbes