What Is YMYL & How Does It Affect SEO?


What Is YMYL?

YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life”—a phrase Google uses to distinguish any content that can potentially impact people’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

Google has designated YMYL as an important concept in its Search Quality Rater Guidelines—a comprehensive document for the real people tasked with manually evaluating websites and pages displayed in search results.

Why?

Google recognizes that YMYL pages providing inaccurate or low-quality information have the potential to do harm.

For example, the webpage below explaining how to improve credit scores is a YMYL piece of content. Because any inaccurate or misleading advice on the topic could negatively impact people’s financial situations.

What Is YMYL & How Does It Affect SEO?

Some other examples of YMYL pages include:

  • News articles covering important current events 
  • Financial advice on investing, taxes, and banking
  • Important medical, health, or safety information
  • Legal information or government pages
  • Pages on major life decisions like education, housing, and careers

Why Is YMYL Important in SEO?

Google takes YMYL content extremely seriously. And that means Google wants you to meet a more stringent threshold for those topics. 

Consider this scenario:

A user wants to get in better shape. So they search “how to build muscle mass” on Google.

If they land on a poor-quality page that gives them bad diet or exercise advice, they could end up injuring themselves or negatively impacting their health in another way. 

Because of this, Google has a higher bar for YMYL content. 

Pages on YMYL topics have higher standards than pages on non-YMYL topics.

– Google

That means the people who manually evaluate content based on Google’s standards around experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T)—called “Search Quality Raters”—review YMYL pages with even more scrutiny.

Here’s a more detailed look at what E-E-A-T means:

  • Experience: The first-hand experience the content creator has with the topic
  • Expertise: The content creator’s knowledge and qualifications related to the topic
  • Authoritativeness: The website’s reputability
  • Trustworthiness: The extent to which the content/website is transparent, accurate, uses credible sources, etc.

If a YMYL page doesn’t meet high standards in these areas, it’s unlikely to rank. At least not well. 

Identifying YMYL Topics

Some topics are clearly YMYL. Others may or may not be, depending on the context and details.

Let’s go over the the specifics:

Clear YMYL Topics


Clear YMYL topics are those that unquestionably have the potential to impact people’s health, financial stability, safety, or overall well-being. 

These clear YMYL topics include:

  • Health and medical information: Information about diseases, conditions, treatments, procedures, drugs, medical devices, etc. Anything that could significantly impact a person’s health decisions or outcomes. 
  • Financial information: Advice on investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchases, paying for college, etc. Inaccurate or misleading financial information could directly impact someone’s financial future.
  • News and current events: Reporting on local, national, or world events and issues. Inaccurate news reporting can misinform the public.
  • Civic and legal information: Information involving civil rights, immigration, social services, government processes/policies, laws, institutional representation, etc. Incorrect civic or legal information could cause people to misunderstand their rights and/or duties.
  • Safety information: Content discussing workplace safety, emergency preparedness, protection from harm, etc. Flawed safety info puts people at increased risk of injury or harm.
  • Information about groups of people: Content about race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Misinformation or harmful stereotypes can lead to discrimination, prejudice, or misunderstandings among different communities.

Based on this, Mayo Clinic’s article on back pain is absolutely a YMYL page.

Mayo Clinic's ymyl article on back pain

For these straightforward YMYL categories, Google has made it clear that your pages need to demonstrate strong E-E-A-T.

Low-quality content that could potentially cause harm is likely to rank poorly (if at all) in search results.

Possibly YMYL Topics

For topics that are potentially under the YMYL umbrella, the nature of the content and the context are crucial in determining the classification. 

So, consider how likely it is that inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise low-quality content could lead to significant negative outcomes for people. 

Here are some example topics that could fall into this category:

  • Parenting and family: General topics like games to play with children, family dynamics, etc. are less likely to be YMYL. But advice on things like childcare or discipline could be YMYL.
  • Daily life and routines: Tips on hobbies, home organization, cleaning, etc. are usually not YMYL. But information on things that could impact physical safety like home repairs or car maintenance could be.
  • Travel advice: General travel tips might not be YMYL. But advice on traveling to certain locations with safety concerns or significant costs can be.

For instance, this article on how to construct porch stairs from The Spruce can be considered YMYL. Because poor construction could cause serious injury.

The Spruce's article overview on how to build porch steps

These potentially YMYL topics can significantly impact a person’s life in some cases.

If your content does have the possibility of impacting someone’s well-being, you need to meet high standards to increase your chances of ranking.

Not or Unlikely to Be YMYL Topics


There are many topics that aren’t considered to be YMYL. Or are very unlikely to fall under that category. 

These are topics that have little to no bearing on things like health, financial security, safety, or personal well-being.

Some examples of non-YMYL topics include:

  • Entertainment: Content about movies, TV shows, music, celebrities, humor, games, etc.Inaccuracies may be frustrating for fans but don’t significantly impact key life areas.
  • Sports and hobbies: Coverage of sports, recreational activities, collectibles, crafts, etc. Basically, these are enthusiast topics that aren’t vital life-impacting factors.
  • Lifestyle and fashion: Trends, personal styling, home decor, etc. These are relatively subjective topics focused on personal preferences.

This Allure article about how Simone Biles was able to ensure her makeup lasted during a competition is a non-YMYL topic.

Allur's non-ymyl article on Simone Biles's makeup routine

There can always be exceptions based on specifics. But usually, these types of topics don’t have the same level of standards when it comes to rankings. 

Best Practices for Creating YMYL Pages


If you’re planning to create content around YMYL niches, you’ll want to follow these best practices.

1. Ensure Accuracy and Comprehensiveness


Your YMYL content needs to be both accurate and comprehensive. Because the information you provide can significantly impact the reader’s life decisions.

So, you should verify facts, figures, and claims to maintain accuracy. And aim to cover the topic as comprehensively as possible.

A prime example of a website that excels at this is Healthline.

Their medical articles are thoroughly researched, are fact-checked, and provide in-depth information.

Like in this article about the common cold.

Healhline's ymyl article about the common cold shows table of contents and that it was medically reviewed by an expert

And note that the article is reviewed by experts to ensure the information is accurate.

2. Cite Your Sources


If you include quotes, statistics, data, or other information from external sources in your YMYL content, make sure to cite where it’s from.

This is partially about giving credit where it’s due. But it’s also about building trust with your readers. 

When you cite where information came from, you show readers that it’s backed by reliable and authoritative sources. And isn’t just based on opinions or assumptions.

The same Healthline article cites various studies and expert sources throughout the content to support the information provided.

Like this:

Healthline article cites the FDA when offering advice

That approach (among other techniques) has clearly helped this article’s SEO performance. It gets around 14,000 organic visits each month, according to Semrush’s Domain Overview tool.

organic search traffic highlighted for the healthline article url

3. Include Input from Experts


Featuring input from an expert in the field is important for content that falls under a YMYL category. Because it builds credibility.

If you aren’t personally an authority, this could mean conducting interviews with experts or even asking them to review your content.

For example, Investopedia works with financial experts to review their investing and personal finance content to ensure it’s reliable.

ymyl article has "Reviewed by" tag with pop up showing more information about the reviewer

To engage with experts, start by identifying well-known authorities in your field. You can use LinkedIn for this. 

If you find someone who’s a good fit, reach out to them.

Backlinks are links on other websites that point to your site. And they signal to Google that your content is valuable, authoritative, and worthy of being referenced. 

This can positively impact search rankings for all your content—including your YMYL content.

To acquire backlinks, focus on creating quality content that provides unique insights, data, or perspectives that other sites would want to reference.

This should attract links naturally. But If you want to speed up the process, use Semrush’s Link Building Tool.

It provides you with a list of websites you can contact to ask for backlinks.

To get started, set up a project in the tool. 

Then, you’ll see websites in your space you can contact.

link building tool with Prospects tab highlighted

When you identify a prospect you want to contact, click the “To In Progress” button next to it.

To in progress button highlighted

Go to the “In Progress” tab and click the “Contact” button next to the prospect you want to reach.

Contact by email button highlighted

Now, draft an email that communicates the value your content provides. And ask the recipient to link to it. 

You can craft and send your email pitch directly within the tool itself.

Email builder tool

5. Show Your Team’s Credentials


Showcasing your content team’s credentials and expertise adds credibility and builds trust with your audience. And boosts your E-E-A-T. 

There are two main places where you can showcase your team’s credentials. 

The first is in author bios.

Author bio for an editor at Nerdwallet shows her education, her areas of expertise, and previous publications

Here, you can highlight the qualifications like:

  • Years of professional experience in the field
  • Educational degrees and certifications relevant to your niche
  • Notable achievements, awards, or recognitions
  • Prominent publications or featured works

The second place is the “About Us” or “Team” page. Where you can provide a comprehensive overview of your team’s collective expertise and accomplishments. And not just for writers—but for editors, content strategists, etc.

Then, you can go into detail about each individual’s background. To show that they have relevant knowledge and insights.

Team page for Editors

6. Write Professionally

To increase your chances of ranking in Google, YMYL pages should feature the highest-quality writing.

Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and sloppy writing can undermine your credibility and damage your reputation—even if the core information is accurate.

So, proofread your content thoroughly using a tool like Grammarly.

You can also use Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant. Which helps improve content readability and quality.

Just copy and paste your content in the tool. It’ll provide suggestions to enhance tone, originality, readability, and overall SEO.

SEO Writing Assistant highlights draft text and offers ways to improve readability such as issues with the title

7. Keep Your Content Current

Keep your pages up to date with the latest information. Because outdated or obsolete content can misinform readers in potentially harmful ways.

How can you stay current?

Set a regular schedule to review and update your existing YMYL pages. How frequently you do this will depend on your specific niche.

When making updates, be thorough. Double-check all information, replace outdated statistics or data, revisit advice or recommendations based on new developments, and rewrite or expand sections as needed.

Create Top-Tier YMYL Pages

Google places immense importance on quality when it comes to YMYL pages. 

That’s why you should make sure your content is accurate, comprehensive, trustworthy, and created by subject matter experts. Your reputation (and rankings) depend on it.

Semrush offers a suite of SEO tools to help you optimize your YMYL pages and entire website for the best possible search visibility.

Sign up to try them today.



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