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EAT and YMYL: New Google Search Guidelines Acronyms of Quality Content

Julia Spence-McCoy
EAT and YMYL: New Google Search Guidelines Acronyms of Quality Content

If you’ve ever wondered how to decipher Google’s ranking algorithm, you’re not alone.

As of Nov. 12, 2015, you are in luck with getting far more specifics on how the Google brain digests online content. On that day, Google released the entire version of their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

These guidelines, designed to help Google’s own ranking evaluators do their job, offers important information about what Google is looking for in high-quality pages and how websites can perform better in Google’s algorithm.

Specifically, Google offers two measurements, E-A-T and YMYL, which are important for marketers looking to create better pages in the new year.

Let’s discuss what you need to know about both of them.

Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: E-A-T

E-A-T stands for “Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness” and it’s the metric by which Google’s evaluators rank pages. High-quality pages possess a high level of E-A-T while low-quality pages don’t. How do you master E-A-T?

According to Section 4 of Part 1 of the guidelines, high-quality pages possess the following traits:

E.A.T. - Google Guideline

  1. Enough main content (MC): content should be ample enough to satisfy the needs of a user for a page’s unique topic and purpose (broad topics require more information than narrow topics, for example)
  2. The page and its associated content is expert, authoritative, and trustworthy for the topic they discuss
  3. The website has a positive reputation for its page topics
  4. The website features enough auxiliary information, for example, “About us,” “Contact,” or “Customer Service” information
  5. The website features supplementary content (SC) that enhances the user’s enjoyment and experience of a web page
  6. The page is designed in a functional fashion that allows users to easily locate the information they want
  7. The website is maintained and edited regularly and frequently

One of the most important aspects of this list is the concept of E-A-T. E-A-T has a direct effect on both the page’s quality level as well as its reputation on the web at large. In order to be deemed high-quality, Google states that “websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic.”

It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that what comprises “Expert” content can vary depending upon a page’s type and purpose.

For example, while high-level medical advice needs to be written by an accredited doctor in order to be considered “Expert” content, general information supplied on medical support forums can be considered “Expert” even if it’s been written by a layperson. Some topics inherently require less formal levels of expertise and, for these pages, Google is predominantly looking at how helpful, detailed, and useful the information provided is.

This is true for things like product and restaurant reviews and information on fashion sites, gossip sites, and humor sites. Google makes it clear that, while there are many different types of “Everyday expertise” and that evaluators will not penalize a site for not having “Formal” training in a given field if the field doesn’t necessarily warrant that (this is true of fashion sites, for example).

Google does make it clear, however, that the following sites must be written by accredited, qualified experts:

  • Medical information
  • Financial advice
  • Advice or information pages on any topic that can have a potential negative impact on a person’s health, happiness or wealth
  • High-quality hobby pages

When it comes to E-A-T, the takeaway is this: some pages require higher levels of formal expertise while some require “Everyday expertise.” To determine which is which, content creators and marketers need to think about how much expertise is needed in order for the page to achieve its purpose and to provide useful, helpful, detailed content.

Your Money Or Your Life: No, We’re Talking About Google Here (Y-M-Y-L Pages)

YMYL - Google GuidelineI like to summarize the YMYL acronym as:

A quality rating for online content that either asks for your money or your life.

OK, it’s not like THAT exactly. But I think I’m close. Here’s what Google defines Y-M-Y-L as.

YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” pages and are comprised of pages that are important enough that, were they low-quality, they could have a potential negative impact on a person’s life, income, or happiness. As a general rule, the pages that Google requires to be written by experts are known as YMYL pages. Google thinks of the following categories as examples of YMYL pages:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages
  • Pages that offer financial information, for example, investment or tax information
  • Pages that offer medical information about specific diseases or conditions or mental health
  • Pages that offer legal information about topics like child support, divorce, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
  • Any page that has the potential to be dangerous or detrimental if it possessed low levels of E-A-T (car repair and maintenance, for example)

When it comes to these pages, Google has incredibly high page quality rating standards. This is Google’s effort to protect Google users from low-quality complex content that doesn’t possess the needed levels of E-A-T.

The Case for Expert Writers

E-A-T levels and Y-M-Y-L pages are two of the most important takeaways from the guidelines as a whole and both of them point to Google’s increased focus on the need for expert writers. While some content can be written by people without technical training or accreditation, all content needs to possess a high level of E-A-T in order to be viewed favorably by Google.

Unfortunately, DIY content often doesn’t possess the needed levels of E-A-T and, for this reason, marketers can do well to hire expert writers as we head into the new year. With the increased importance Google is placing upon high-quality, authoritative, expert, trustworthy content, it’s clear that the investment in a team of quality writers is one of the best marketers can make. While the guidelines certainly don’t offer a spelled-out guide as to what makes for a top-ranking page, measurements like E-A-T and the importance of Y-M-Y-L pages make it perfectly clear that, now more than ever, expert writing matters.

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Julia Spence-McCoy

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Julia McCoy's life career happened when she left medical school to follow her passion in copywriting and SEO at 19 years old. A solely self-taught entrepreneur, she built an online copywriting agency a year later in 2011, Express Writers, which has grown to include more than 60 talented copywriters and editors with hundreds of clients around the world. Follow Julia's blog for all things copywriting & SEO.
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Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

I think people still do better in getting ranks if they hire an expert to do the content work.
Steve Dolan

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

How does Google determine that an author is an expert?

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

thank you for sharing, another ranking factor that must include on every pages / post on a project website :D
Nick Samuel

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Call me slightly ignorant here but I honestly forgot EAT and YMYL originated in 2015/16. I know everything seems to be cyclical in SEO but after the "medic" update back in August last year, you would have thought these were new concepts the way a lot of us went on about them in the SEO community :-P

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

How does Google know if the content has been written by an accredited expert?

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Joe Coulb
If they have some credentials like medical doctor degrees, law degree, belong to accredited organizations, are a published author on the subject of the content.
Big Footy BEts

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

And with that brush of the pen - Google has killed alot of small businesses.

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Quora has many question on personal finance, which are answered by laymen. Despite that those pages come up in top results. Why?
Nick Samuel

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Shantanu Deshmukh
Overall "domain authority" for want of a better phrase or metric!

You're right though, it still hasn't and unlikely never will reach Wikipedia levels of peer reviewed "expertise authority and trust"...

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Dear Julia,
what to do if my website has a experts for the content, but after 1 August I got penalized as well ?
What would you recommend in such situation ?
The site is fast M optimalised so on, technically pretty good....

regards John
Shehryar  Aziz

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

John Swiss
Would you mind sharing the site URL? What I believe according to my personal research and experience is that you should check out for the company pages you have, make sure you have an informational about us page.
Things that you should consider or add:
1. About Us Page with complete information of your company
2. Awards you have won
3. Team members
4. Clients
5. Partners if any
6. Testimonials

Also, if you have a blog section, add it under your company navigation menu. On blog articles, make sure you have an author page with complete information of your author:
1. His/her educational background
2. His/her work experience
3. His/her contributions
4. His/her experience related to your field

Hope this helps.. Thank You

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

This is the Exact Info which I have been looking for [link removed by moderator] this my site which into selling medicine, I have done SEO Optimization, but my website pages are not listed in search engine results for any keyword which I am targetting.
It is showing only 70 URLs crawled out of 209 in Google Search Console. out of 209 pages, only 4 or 5 pages are ranked, remaining pages not placed anywhere in google.
is the content only reason for Google not showing my pages in search results?
kindly help how can I fix this issue

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Thanks for informing me on a topic that I was previously unaware of. I'm left a little curious however, how to rank for YMYL content. I got from this post that I need to hire an expert writer (which if I am being frank, kind of feels a little bit like a plug given the author works for a writing agency). While I agree thats probably true and a very important aspect when attempting to rank, however I am left wondering, what else?

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Maxwell Pond
I got from their guidelines that it's not about hiring an expert writer, but rather, an expert in the Main Content of the page. Life experience about illness, with no attempt to be clinical, can be considered expert if it's a question/answer forum asking for information about living life with that illness.
Other than that, multiple ways to contact, plenty of citations and transparency about who is responsible for the content & specifics on why they are an authority in the field are a BIG part of YMYL rankings.
I realize this is a year later than query posted, but hope it helps others!

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