2018 Google Algorithm update
In August 2018 Google released a major algorithm update that heavily impacted websites in the medical, health, fitness, business to business, entertainment, and healthy lifestyle space. The basic goal of this update was to safeguard searchers from misleading and harmful websites and provide them with authoritative and trustworthy search results.
What exactly is YMYL?
These websites or web pages influence how you spend your money or take care of your health.
YMYL pages affect people’s health, wealth and safety. If your website includes content that can affect someone’s health, happiness, safety, or financial stability, then your most likely have a YMYL page.
YMYL industries include (but are not limited to): Financial Planning Services, Insurance Agencies, and pages relating to medical or health issues.
- If you are running a blog provides advice on parenting skills, then it is loaded with YMYL pages.
- If you have a website that diagnoses diseases, then it is loaded with YMYL pages.
- If you have a website about news and current events, that’s a YMYL
As you can see from the chart below, health and e-commerce industries have been hit the hardest from Google’s YMYL update.
Google reserves very high-quality rating standards for YMYL pages and for good reason. Disseminating incorrect or misleading information could hurt people financially, physically, or emotionally.
So if you’ve got a page that falls under any of the categories listed in the chart above, you’ll need to stick to E-A-T principles in order to optimize your website for the Google search algorithm. Moreover, you will need to make sure that Google’s human search evaluators approve your content as well.
These are the three most important factors which Google takes into consideration when differentiating high-quality content from low-quality:
- The purpose of the page
- E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), or Page Quality
- YMYL (Your Money or Your Life)
The characteristics of high-quality pages
High-quality pages are pages that provide visitors with some benefit. Essentially, web pages should be created with the users’ best interests in mind.
Every page on the internet is created for a purpose, or for multiple purposes. Most pages are created to be helpful for users, thus have a beneficial purpose. Some pages are created merely to make money and offer little to no value to visitors. Some pages have malicious intent, i.e. identity theft, or criminal gain.
Beneficial page purpose includes (but are not limited to) pages which seek:
- To entertain
- To sell products/services
- To share personal or social information
- To allow users to share files or download apps
- To share information on a subject
Web pages that do not adhere to these principles will receive a low-quality score.
Remember, Google site’s quality algorithms are geared towards providing users with high-quality solutions to their problems, and they do this by reducing the rankings of low-quality content.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
Note: E-A-T has some special considerations. You need to be an expert to write content about the topics below.
- Medical advice
- Journalistic news articles
- Information pages on scientific topics
- Financial advice
- Pages on hobbies that require expertise e.g. photography and musical instrument
Your website MUST have the following signals to rank high in the aforementioned industries:
- Is the author an expert on the content?
- Do they have the necessary credentials to lend credence to what they are writing?
- Are there credentials readily available on the website?
- Links and even unlinked mentions count
Authoritativeness means Google recognizes you as an authority in your field. If your business is receiving tons of media attention, this can really boost your authority. It means that your brand name is trending or circulating online, and Google counts this as votes towards your authority.
Tips: if you are a blogger, adding your credentials and an author bio to blog posts can help improve your authority. You can also source positive feedback from external websites or bloggers as this lends to your authority and clout. Google loves websites with a lot of clout.
- Publish original research. This will often get you mentions from authoritative websites.
- Guest Blogging. Being a guest blogger on major blogs like Go Daddy and Medium is great for clout, you can even link back to your website’s blog for more authority.
- Connect with journalists, social media influencers. This is also a part of networking. The more people you reach out to the more promotion you can receive for your brand.
- Create connections with experts or authorities in your field.
Can users trust you to provide honest, true information that is accurate?
Tips: Secure your website with HTTPS. If you don’t have an SSL certificate your website visitors will be scared to enter your site as they will be greeted with the message below. We have all seen this message, it’s never pleasant, so get an SSL certificate from your web hosting service.
- Real Customer reviews or testimonials.
- Detailed Shipping Information.
- Detailed product descriptions.
- Ensure that you have clear refunds and returns policies (if you’re accepting credit card transactions).
- Your product pages must have accurate information(e.g. allows users to buy the intended product).
- Have a term of business or Terms and Conditions page (if applicable)
- Quality links to your site (very important).
Takeaway: You can have tons of content that people are searching for, and that search engines can understand, but that alone doesn’t guarantee that you will rank on Google. To outrank the competition you must establish expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. This requires you to always take an ethical approach to SEO and the promotion of your website. E-A-T doesn’t have a definite score that you can optimize towards, it’s a very subjective principle and is really difficult to optimize for. However, with the guidelines I’ve listed here, you will be well on your way to meeting Google’s expectations. Let E-A-T be your guiding light as you conduct SEO.