Published on July 14th, 2022 YMYL

All You Need to Know About YMYL (Your Money Your Life) Ft. Papa Penguin

This document is a top-secret, internal training manual from Google leaked to us by an insider who sadly was taken by bad humor. 

My dear readers, it’s true. Google is run by penguins!

This is Google’s Search Evaluator Guideline that is used to train — or guide, rather — their Search Quality Raters. It sheds light on many a Google mystery, some obvious, some cryptic. One of my favorite concepts they put into practice is a little something called YMYL. So, what is YMYL?

What Is YMYL?

“YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life.” Any page that presents content that directly impacts the reader’s health, happiness, safety, or financial stability is considered a YMYL page.

For example, when you search on Google about a persistent cough, recommendations on buying a house, how to file your taxes, or what to wear on a first date, Google wants you to get professional advice, the best advice.

The imperative is that the user is not led astray. Like you have 24 hours to live because of that cough, you just Googled. A YMYL page is a serious business, and Google doesn’t play around.

Here’s what Chief Penguin has to say about this in the guideline: “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.” We will find you and pluck out your eyelashes one by one. Just kidding about that last bit, but you get the point.

Search Evaluator Guidelines

Search Evaluator Guidelines

This 200-page document is frequently updated and relays the content standards a site should maintain to rank well. 

Google uses these Quality Rater Guidelines to train its content evaluation team and bridge the gaps between user intent and search results accuracy.

Here’s what John Mueller, or as we call him here, Papa Penguin, has to say about the Quality Rater Evaluator:

“The quality raters don’t make the algorithms. But they do give us a lot of insight into what we might do in our algorithm. So I would strongly recommend going through that Quality Rater Guidelines.”

Now it doesn’t indicate how the Google algorithm works precisely, but it does shine a flashlight on where it aims to go with content quality.

Are YMYL Pages Becoming Difficult To Rank?

Are YMYL Pages Becoming Difficult To Rank?

So, are YMYL pages getting more difficult to rank? Well, there is no direct evidence, but a study by Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land shows that The Broad Core Algorithm Update in 2018 impacted 42% of the websites related to health, medicine, fitness, and lifestyle.

Barry termed it the Medic Update since the major impact was on the health niche. 

Are YMYL Pages Scrutinized More?

So, are YMYL pages scrutinized more? Well, seems like it is for medical content.

Here’s Mueller again:

“When it comes to medical content, I think that’s super important, that our algorithms are very picky there with regards to what we show.” 

If it’s super important for algorithms to be picky, then does the algorithm differentiate between the YMYL content and non-YMYL content?

When asked if energy supply and telecommunications for households fall under YMYL…

“We don’t have this like hardcoded inner algorithms that we try to look out for these specific kinds of pieces of content. So, it’s not something where we would have an absolute answer. But what I would do is look at the quality rater guidelines and see what kind of sites they’re talking about there.”

Ok, if we look at the guidelines, the niche at the bottom of the list is labeled Other, and it states: “Please use your judgments.”

Hmm, that’s quite helpful. Now let’s make it even more confusing.

What If The Website Has Both YMYL & Non-YMYL Content

What will happen to the websites with both YMYL and non-YMYL pages?

“If you have a website that covers very sensitive topics as well as very trivial topics, then it’s always going to be challenging for Google’s algorithms to figure out how to deal with that website.”

A little inconclusive. You’re unsure about YMYL, and you learn that YMYL is unsure about you! I suppose that’s why they’re called guidelines instead of rules. So, what can we do to slice through the clutter?

What To Do About YMYL Pages?

Well, there’s nothing you can do but EEAT.

E.A.T. refers to your content having Expertise, Authority, and Trust and is considered one of the key factors in how Google evaluates the quality of the web page.

According to Mueller.

“Anything that’s a little bit more critical, I would also keep in mind everything around the so-called EAT…and to kind of make sure that the site that you’re providing represents a really high standard.”

These standards can be found in the Quality Rater Guidelines. Right here.

The bottom line is that if you create content in any of the YMYL “niches,” be prepared to have your content heavily scrutinized, and if you see a drop in rankings, you know what to do. 

If you still have more questions, feel free to leave comments or feedback or just say hi.



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Published on July 14th, 2022
Updated on April 2nd, 2024

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