Putting users first
We must start with any understanding of how Google works by understanding their objectives and motivations.
In short, Google knows a lot about the web; users, publishers, language and the law – their entire business-model is in serving Google users with relevant and safe information.
In return Google seeks to gain and retain the trust of users, with their reliance on the quality of search results offered, to then keep coming back with minimal risk of excessive noise or disinformation.
Any method of search engine optimisation (SEO) that relies solely on gaming the Google algorithms, without respect for their’s and your audience’s needs and expectations, will sooner or later be ineffective – as both continually learn the good from the bad, the reliable from the dubious or distracting.
SEO isn’t about unnatural keyword repetition or quantity over quality – it is providing genuine value and engagement for your audience. When you put your visitors first, Google will know, from the time they spend on your site and pages, and trackable actions they take.
When you have correctly structured data and engaging content, you’re also improving the likelihood of your pages being ranked higher for search queries relevant to your content.
Your Money, Your Life (YMYL)
The latest Google algorithm update is all about reducing the amount of unqualified or unsubstantiated advice that is masquerading as definitive or serves primarily for marketing products and services – specifically financial (Your Money) and medical (Your Life) advice.
Google has a copy of most of the internet in its indexes, they can recognise the language of advice, and they can cross-reference your advice against authoritative sources – so unless your authors are checking and cross-referencing their facts thoroughly, Google will be anyway, and will be actively avoiding serving search results for information their checks are not confident in your authority.
To start to address this higher standard, there are few things you can do to reassure Google that your writing is well researched and has substance.
People that give advice and make educational claims need to put their name to their work – your article authors should be named and that name should link (using the nofollow tag and removing those links from site-maps to avoid duplicate-content) to all their writing on your website and, ideally, other websites that they may be publishing too.
Links to references on their authority on the subject, the most obvious being their LinkedIn profile, where their qualifications and experience are listed, followed by links (nofollow tag) to any other social media profiles and websites used for publishing their related expertise.
Link to all sources of information using in-line footnotes and reference links – just as you would expect to find a bibliography in any academic-standard essays, dissertations or other types of peer-reviewed papers.
Google knows a lot about the law too – in every country they service – so you must, must, must also be respectful the law too, for all countries you have custom in, or work with people that do.
There’s also the trustworthiness of your site as a whole, including;
- a phone number
- tax id
- company id
- GDPR compliance
- security certification
- site and link relationships
- respect for copyright
- respect for the law
- respect for Google’s Policies
- sources acknowledgements
- structured data
- mobile usability
- respect for trademarks
- your brand identity
- on-site reviews
- off-site reviews
- 3rd-party scripts
- visible content
- hidden content
- page viewing times
- checkout conversion rates
- financial advice
- medical advice
- controversial subjects
- declarations of adult content
- and more – it all ads up!
Yup, there’s a lot to think about – and that’s a lot of what we do for you. It is both an ongoing challenge and motivation, as we collectively and continually pursue higher standards – for everyone’s benefit.
What are the SEO experts saying about YMYL and E-A-T?
Obviously, the first place to start is with Googling:
And some links that we’ve found insightful too:
- Fighting disinformation across our products
- How Google Fights Disinformation
- Google’s Last Update: A Crusade against YMYL Pages
- The August 1, 2018 Google Update strongly affected YMYL sites
(Note, the first Heading: “My Thoughts” clearly identifying to readers and Google of the opinion aspect)
What might have worked for you before might not work now if you hadn’t already had these high-standards and qualities for your publishing.
Whether you think you have or might be affected by these changes, or you hadn’t already considered these additional standards for qualifying any articles you have that can be considered advice, it is a good time to review your articles.
If you are in the health or financial service industries particularly, the expectations for your standards are already going to be significantly higher, and almost assumed unsubstantiated unless prove otherwise.
Check the presentation structure of your website, to make sure it is accountable to the author and linked back to their online resume and other publications.
Check your writing guidelines to include requirements to qualify anything presented as facts or quoted back to the original source(s), and any opinions are clearly identifiable as such.
It might be that if you have already been penalised that you may even be better off removing articles that are obviously more promotional that insightful.
It is a good time to look at your website from the point of view of your education days, and grading your writing with academic points to see if you feel you are already publishing A+ work, or you have a few Fs bringing down your grade-point average.