If you’re a small business owner and managing your own SEO, you should know what the term “your money or your life” means. It’s not a threat and you’re not about to be mugged—it’s the term Google uses for web pages that have higher stakes because they’re meant to offer medical, life, or financial advice, or persuade people to spend money on something. Often abbreviated to YMYL, if you have one or more of these pages on your website, you’ll have to take extra care to make sure they’re abiding by Google’s guidelines.
What Is Your Money or Your Life Content?
Google can be frustratingly opaque when it comes to sharing how their search algorithm works, but they’ve also done SEOs and small business owners a big favor by publicly sharing their quality rater guidelines. Quality raters manually review websites and the data from these ratings is used to influence Google’s search algorithms, which means these guidelines offer us the best insight into what Google values in a website and how they categorize Your Money or Your Life content.
According to their quality rater guidelines, Your Money or Your Life topics include:
- News and current events, with exceptions for entertainment, lifestyle, and sports. Anything involving politics, international events, business, science, and technology is considered YMYL.
- Civics, government, and law, such as information about voting, social services, and legal issues.
- Financial topics, including advice and information on investments, taxes, banking, insurance, etc.
- Shopping, which includes not only retail websites where consumers spend money but also websites with product reviews and recommendations.
- Health and safety, such as pages dealing with health and medical issues, medications, and emergency preparedness.
- Groups of people, or specifically, claims about groups of people based on age, race, sex, sexuality, age, etc.
- Other YMYL topics include fitness, nutrition, parenting, job hunting, housing information, and more.
YMYL content has a high bar for accuracy and truthfulness because it involves information that, if inaccurate, dishonest, or deceptive, could impact someone’s finances, health, safety, or even general happiness.
Of course, this can be subjective, particularly in regards to information that could negatively impact someone’s happiness. Instead of getting caught up in the minutiae and spending your time trying to decide if your content qualifies as YMYL, we recommend you simply have the mindset that as a business, your content needs to meet higher standards.
YMYL and E-A-T
Because all businesses exist to make money, and your website is a tool used to persuade potential clients and customers to choose your business, you should consider all of the pages on your site to be YMYL content—and not just for Google’s benefit. Creating high-quality, authoritative content is good for your business, regardless of the SEO implications. This means you should focus on building your E-A-T.
E-A-T is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of YMYL content. E-A-T stands for:
The creator of the content on a page should have credentials and expertise. The level of expertise can vary here, though. If you own a toy store and you’re writing a blog post about the hottest toys for the upcoming holiday season, your expertise as the business owner will suffice. If you own a gym and you’re posting content with diet recommendations, it should be written by a nutritionist. (Note that content can be written by a ghostwriter and given a byline for someone on your team, provided that they review it for accuracy.)
The authority of a website is determined by the content of the page, the content creator, and the rest of a website. Are you (or your business) a recognized authority on the topic in question? Do you have a presence on the web outside of your website as an expert in your field? (Guest posts can help boost your authoritativeness.)
Trustworthiness means people who visit your website can trust that you’re providing honest, up-to-date information. Is the information on your website accurate? Is content well-written and purposeful?
(Here’s a deeper dive into E-A-T and what it means for SEO for small businesses.)
Certainly, some businesses have higher stakes than others when it comes to YMYL, but taking the approach that all of your content should be high-quality and have good E-A-T will benefit your search engine rankings and make your business look trustworthy in the eyes of both current and potential clients and customers.
Quite simply, people are more likely to spend money on a business with a professional web presence, while a website that’s poorly designed, riddled with errors, and full of thin content generated solely for SEO doesn’t engender trust.
Best Practices for YMYL Content
In addition to taking steps to bolster your E-A-T, the following practices can help your content rank well:
- Easy navigation, including a user-friendly menu and a homepage that’s a single click away from any SEO landing page.
- Content is consistent and on-topic.
- Contact information is readily available and bylines appear for every blog post.
- Website is maintained and regularly updated.
- Site design is professional and up-to-date, without script or loading errors.
While search algorithms change, the one constant is that Google rewards useful, well-written content from reliable sources. Focus on providing this to your audience and you can’t go wrong!
Need Help with SEO?
If you’re running your website by yourself or with a small team, it can feel overwhelming to manage SEO, create a steady stream of new content, boost your E-A-T, and ensure that your website is aesthetically pleasing, professional, and offers a good user experience. This is where a skilled digital marketing agency like Main Street ROI can help.
Our team includes SEO experts, web developers, and a team of in-house content writers. Unlike many other SEO firms, web designers, and content creation agencies, we never outsource your work to the lowest bidder—we do it all ourselves, which gives us greater control over the quality we deliver to our clients.
If you’d like help ranking higher in Google, contact us today for a free SEO quote.