How to Create a Content Strategy to Meet E-A-T and YMYL Criteria
To boost E-A-T signals for YMYL sites, you need recognition of your expertise, trust referrals, and to create authoritative, link-worthy content.
How much the Google E-A-T update impacts your site depends on many factors. One thing is clear, it changes how Google ranks YMYL content, meaning that healthcare sites’ E-A-T content strategy may need to adjust. Online content shouldn’t be too complex for the reader to understand. Making it findable, understandable, and trusted expands your content consumption capabilities. Upfront marketing research can lead your content strategy to achieve this. Additionally, search engines can better understand your content and are more willing to favor it if you keep it nice and simple for readers.
However, getting YMYL content findable, understandable, and trusted is not that easy. When search engines face complex queries, it involves combining entities, sentiments, and intent to figure out what something means. First, we’ll define several acronyms and provide foundational answers to make reading this article easier. E-A-T and YMYL are intertwined, but we’ll parse it out here.
What does YMYL mean?
YMYL stands for “your money or your life”. It refers largely to financial and healthcare sites. When both or either a monetary transaction is expected to take place or healthcare information provided, they are considered as key to the overall well-being of the person searching.
Which business niches fall under YMYL?
The YMYL categorization more comprehensively includes:
- Health and safety.
- Government, civic entities, and law.
- Major purchases.
- People group entities.
- Additional things and decisions that may impact a person’s quality of life.
For our purposes in this article, here is a direct quote from Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines page 10.
● Shopping: information about or services related to research or purchase of goods/services,
particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases online.
● Health and safety: advice or information about medical issues, drugs, hospitals, emergency
preparedness, how dangerous an activity is, etc.
The intent behind why Google identifies these YMYL sites for added scrutiny is because the content on these types of sites often has a higher impact on people’s lives. That creates the need to have it judged more carefully. Our recent wave of fake news and misinformation has created a demand to identify trustworthy online content.
To reduce the level of misinformation on life-impacting use of search, a range of signals are used to determine how trustworthy a site’s content is. Artificial Intelligence is used to judge the expertise and authoritativeness of so-called author experts. This process helps search engines gain a better sense of which sites merit ranking over others.
Content published on non-YMYL sites still evaluates the author using the term “everyday expertise”. This identifies which authors are considered experts in their specific nice or topic; it looks for qualified life experience. The expertise of the writer is judged on the level of the content itself.
Who are Google quality raters?
Raters are individuals given actual searches to conduct and evaluate. This occurs on real searches that occur on Google Search. They have these guidelines that form how they rate the quality of pages that appear in the top results. Quality raters cannot directly alter Google’s search results or rankings.
Google’s human search evaluators are the individuals who rate how well Google’s algorithm is doing its job. They closely apply Google’s guide. For search marketers, as a result, it then becomes an essential tool for insights into what Google looks for in a high-quality web page.
“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.” – Google QRG, page 10
What is E-A-T?
E-A-T is the acronym for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. E-A-T has become a core concept in Google’s Search Quality Raters guide. It is comprised of signals Google uses to evaluate and judge content. A key aspect of improving your site’s E-A-T is describing your site in better detail to search engines. Schema structured data adds this information that helps search engines catalog trusted content. It is important to every site, but it’s essential with YMYL content.
E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor. Danny Sullivan said on Twitter: “We do use a variety of signals as a proxy to tell if content seems to match E-A-T as humans would assess it. In that regard, yeah, it’s a ranking factor. It is more like a rating tool for, and a lead indicator of, quality content that Google and people want. Google Search’s
analyzeEntities method finds named entities (such as proper names and common nouns) in the text along with entity types, salience, mentions for each entity, and other property types. Within the Google Cloud Natural Language Processing model, the API offers clues into how — and how well — machines understand content.
Before diving in further, to be fair to “Checklist People”; they no longer tend to work. A Checklist mindset typically comes with a “done” and “check-it-off” approach. However, unless you are a YMYL healthcare news site only, even your published content benefits from monitoring and improving every month. Your YMYL and E-A-T assessments are high stakes; hard work pays off. “EAT” factors are assessed in terms of whether or not what you publish is YMYL content. In complex queries, it’s about combining entities, sentiments, and intent to figure out what something means.
There is no single “one” metric, but rather multiple different signals by which expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are determined. In sum, these naturally impact how search result pages are put together.
How to Create Healthcare Content for Google’s E-A-T Algorithm
10 Steps to create a Healthcare site’s E-A-T Content Strategy to meet YMYL criteria:
1. Know where demand exists for new Authoritative content.
2. Increase organic traffic exponentially using “Content Clusters”.
3. Have a clear purpose and identify the right content type.
4. Use entities, nodes, and edges to add content to Knowledge Graphs.
5. Become trusted for queries trigging featured snippets.
6. Fact-check your content and cite your sources.
7. Identify your audience’s decision-making journey at each touchpoint.
8. Write for your audience and create a good User Experience.
9. Build trust through patient, doctor, and consumer reviews.
10. Use topic expert authors to prove authoritativeness.
Google is passionate about serving up links to content that share educated advice, opinions, and factual content that avoids potentially fraudulent websites. Its intent is to be as certain as possible that they are recommending sites that provide a high level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness — which is what E-A-T is all about! It’s a filter meant to protect searchers from low-quality content that poses a detrimental risk to searchers.
So, let’s look more closely at each How-To step.
1. Know Where Demand Exists for New Authoritative Content
First, ensure that you qualify as a YMYL site, and secondly, that you’re qualified to offer the advice.
Content that meets high demand and is in a language that shows expert knowledge of the specific topic is used more to match common consensus answers. Even a site with a strong, authoritative link profile that publishes a content piece that has no audience, will find a lagging page. Look at Google Trends to know if searchers’ interest in a specific topic has changed. Once your research has discovered a high-demand content gap in your content strategy, write as a topically trustworthy source.
Strive to avoid engaging in what may be perceived as deceptive tactics. Most medical sites that fell victim to recent core algorithm updates offered advice on topics without any demonstrable proof of their expertise. Don’t create a topic cluster just based on demand – it’s best if you identify needed content that fits what you know best how to expound on.
Yandex Webmaster Tools is less used by many search marketers, but it clearly indicates content that falls short of meeting a real need. It will list such content under its ‘removed due to low search demand/value’ category. Since such reports are missing in GWT and BWT, lots of SEOs and content marketers fail to realize why things don’t get indexed. Some content is best if “improved” or “removed” rather than laboring at length by trying to index content that has low search demand.
Identify which content pieces to pursue and which to avoid:
- Avoid creating a new content piece that only duplicates and then competes with existing content.
- Avoid creating content that no one or few are looking for.
- Avoid content creation around any other need besides your audience’s.
- Pass on content offers that miss your core business goals.
Users also demand fast page-load times and mobile friendliness when consuming content.
2. Increase Organic Traffic Exponentially Using “Content Clusters”
Provide high-quality content that’s relevant, helpful, credible, easy to find and navigate.
Identify search phrases that have roughly the same meaning or have the same search intent behind them. It is similar to keyword grouping. Determine how to target your one YMYL page with all these words that relate to the same thing and expound on closely interrelated topics. This is what is termed keyword clusters. Essentially they are a group of keywords that are close in nature and topic and can be targeted together on a single page.
Your content length should be about providing value over how many words it is. Be as brief as possible while being as comprehensive as necessary. Typically, demonstrating topic expertise means covering it from all key angles. This will help your business build brand trust as a top expert with your niche.
3. Have a Clear Purpose and Identify the Right Content Type
This is done page-by-page. Identify if search engines prefer to display in-depth, comprehensive articles/reviews/inspiration pieces for each search query versus transactional pages. They are often cataloged differently from what we first think of. Rely on data to make your content topic cluster decisions.
If your competitors are quick to erroneously assume that a content piece may fall under transactional, it’s easy to spot with the right research strategy. This creates a content opportunity that most other writers may pass by. Gain the experience of a content marketing strategist with the skills and tools needed to identify content types correctly.
Often we find that sites in the healthcare niche have a higher chance of ranking for informational content. It’s an easier place to provide value and build trust than competitive product landing pages. If you’re facing a big brand in either earned or paid search, the strategy should be to create informational content and then funnel them to your product pages instead of tackling a win on product spaces within the top 10 positions.
How content is organized for Google’s Search Data Catalog and used for multiple resources like entries, and tags that match a query fascinates me. The organization of various data sources and attributes related to each entity is complex. The Google Information Retrieval process works continuously behind the scenes to be the best query answer engine.
4. Use Entities, Nodes, and Edges to add Content to Knowledge Graphs
Google’s John Muller recently stated on Twitter that “SEO also fits into graph theory (where this comes from): “nodes” are pages, “edges” are links. PageRank is essentially finding the strongest nodes in a unidirectional graph.” (1). Detailed, nuanced, in-depth, consumer-centric content that predicts user needs and is based on empathetic marketing can best reach the patient with medical needs.
Google Cloud’s Natural Language Processing can extract entities and understand sentiments in multiple languages. Its API uses Deep Learning technology and AutoML to classify content into custom categories to suit the searcher’s specific needs. Accompanying owned media is an important part of quality content; photos, charts, tables, and infographics can convey trustworthiness through images or text. Your business Knowledge Graph is also enriched by a highly-optimized and useful Google Business Profile.
5. Become Trusted for Queries Triggering Featured Snippets
E-A-T and YMYL are Google search filters that ensure results are relevant, high-quality, and provide the best answer. Top-ranked results need to stand out from others through the value they offer. They are similar to standards or guidelines for publishing content online. Once these filters are applied, they often display quick answers in People Also Ask boxes.
Google’s ongoing algorithm updates make it especially important for YMYL website owners and search marketing specialists to integrate Google’s Quality rating standards to improve the quality of their web pages and content. Sites that gain feature snippets in SERPs have done something right to earn that spotlight by Google. Especially, for healthcare-related queries. The digital marketers and SEO team behind a successful site need to bring the whole picture to the business for effective visibility and cross-channel promotions.
“Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. Google uses structured data that it finds on the web to understand the content of the page, as well as to gather information about the web and the world in general. Google Search also uses structured data to enable special search result features and enhancements.” – Google
“At Bing, enabling users to make key decisions through visually appealing, information-rich search results is a key component of our search experience. As a content publisher, you can contribute to – and stand out in – this experience by annotating your structured content using any of the following supported specifications such as HTML Microdata, Microformats, RDFa, Schema.org, Open Graph, and JSON-LD. Annotating your data doesn’t actually change the visible content, but it does give Bing valuable information on the type of content you’re hosting on your site. On our side, we put your annotations to good use, for example by using them to increase the visual appeal of your search results, or to supplement and validate our data sources.” – Bing
You can use
MedicalProcedureor many others like
MedicalSpecialty to help increase your chances of gaining visibility in search engine result pages for medical-related queries.
6. Fact-check your Content and Cite your Sources
Healthcare sites need to first prove that they provide accurate and verified factual content. It takes time to find primary sources of trusted data, power-packed quotes, and information-rich statistics. A reader may want to disagree with the author, but if you cite a trusted source, then they know that you are connected to reality and not just offering an opinion.
FactClaim schema lets authors prove their writing accuracy. By quoting quality research to back up your opinions, what you say may be more trusted.
Where to incorporate research in an article?
Include and source factual research within your articles at key points to reinforce your writings with evidence and trusted conclusions. If it is a medically scholarly or journalistic article type, the more arduous you need to be with backing up your assertions with facts. While citations help reduce reader skepticism, proven facts and trusted statistics stand on their own to valid a point of view. A schema markup specialist can implement FactClaim schema to validate and make your factual content findable.
Footnotes and resource listings are a common formatting option for articles drawing up extensive research; however, the average mainstream publication only needs to provide the backlink to the original research.
“What makes scientific claims reliable is the process by which they are vetted. All scientific claims are subject to tough scrutiny, and it’s only the claims that pass this scrutiny that we can say constitute scientific knowledge.” – Naomi Oreskes, Harvard professor and author of the book Why Trust Science
7. Identify your Audience’s Decision-making Journey at each Touchpoint
Providing customer experience involves all of customer service tasks and more. For example, if you are selling a medical device, buyer touchpoints can be uncovered to further optimize and offer more value along the purchase path at each touchpoint. Match each content piece to a specific searcher’s intent along their customer journey.
Be selective when choosing a content element for presentation to the first user during or after their pending transaction. Leverage the identify content stored by the card reader using a second compressed transaction log record. This allows you to use a comparison between a content selection rule and adding the content element to a content delivery system capable of transmitting the content element to the first user.
Offer unique value points to differentiate yourself from your competitors. This will change as consumer sentiment, seasons, and product variants emerge, which creates the need to stay agile. We call this making content marketing strategy loops.
What are content marketing strategy loops?
Content strategy isn’t set in stone; it should adapt to your audience’s needs over time. Elaborating on the same topics repeatedly can miss your audience’s pain points and create duplicate content issues. Content strategy loops let you stay sharp and avoid both mistakes and missed opportunities. A continual eye on market metrics, SEO, social marketing insights, deciphering datasets, content audits, and analytics help uncover consumer intent and shape future content writing. Consider social marketing currency as the quantifiable impact of Word Of Mouth marketing; it is a direct response to your shared content and communications.
Aligning with your audience’s needs and search intent is a cornerstone to successfully expanding on your topic cluster model. Each fresh content strategy loop reveals affirming or better data about what patients find valuable. This consistent fine-tuning is a listening ear to what people need. It gets easier to discover new and sub-topics to write about. It leads next steps and helps get topics on the Content Calendar.
How to use a content marketing loop to refresh your strategy after publishing a piece of content:
- Inform search engines of your content’s key points with semantics and structured data.
- Drive it with social media marketing, press releases, podcasts.
- Capture useful data that reflects consumer engagement and measure results.
- Compare it to the strategy, confirm with your Google Search Console, Data Studio insights, and other reports.
8. Write for your Audience and Create a Good User Experience
There is no mistaking that at the end of the day digital leads and sales move a business forward.
SEO is what provides those sales and revenue than any other marketing entity. But the road there always starts with your audience. To offer them a good user experience, your pages must be free of technical SEO errors and well-optimized. Groups of people applying the raters guidelines will note web pages that have broken links. This way people can find relevant answers before landing on your site and then navigate within it once there. The healthcare space is highly competitive and held to a higher standard by Google. Most businesses that are trusted and matched for answering healthcare-related search queries, already have a solid SEO foundation.
If you write for your audience, sales, and patient bookings will follow.
So, moving on, remember that people have pressing schedules. When they read an article, they are looking for answers, information, solutions, or direction. They are not looking to be impressed with “big words” or necessarily the intelligence of the author. They want to trust that the content is accurate, easy to read, makes it clear what action steps to take. Machine learning helps identify targeted users and with providing content to the targeted audience.
Write at their language reading level or lower to make it easy to consume.
Identify what they perceive as valuable content. Value drivers are what someone would cite as reasons they do business with you over someone else. Every key message in your content strategy needs to thread clearly to one or more value drivers. Content that resonates with them as pushy, thin, or too promotional may cause them to leave, which drops your site’s E-A-T alignment.
9. Build Trust through Patient, Doctor, and Consumer Reviews
Reviews affect E-A-T and search engines get a bit overexcited about that. Assuming Google understands your entity and then connects your product or services with reviews, it can be powerful. The impression your business makes on your audience is often more trusted than what you say. The reputation of your business is owned by your audience and those who leave reviews; you have the management role.
Having an acceptable ratio of negative reviews – as long as you add positive responses – actually demonstrates that your business cares about providing positive experiences and is willing to make positive changes.
Place hand-selected reviews in a nice collection of frames and showcase them on your office walls. When patients are in your office, this speaks volumes to them that their opinion matters to you. Add them to your relevant web pages to provide affirming value to your readers and shoppers. Google Maps and other platforms make it super easy for people to leave an online review.
The Quality Rater Guidelines stress the importance of reviews. Naturally, you’ll want more and mainly positive evaluations. Incentivized Google evaluations, meaning offering something in return, are forbidden. A good business model may invite people to write reviews after being in their medical office or during the after-sales process if selling a health-related product.
Reviews are also highly valuable for helping your increase your EAT rating by letting you know real audience needs.
10. Use Topic Expert Authors to Prove Authoritativeness
Google’s John Mueller strongly urges healthcare businesses to have doctors and physicians write medical content if at all possible. YMYL sites benefit from having a known topic expert as the author. Each article should be authored by someone already regarded as having the expertise to teach others on the topic.
How Important is the Author?
The expertise of the author is a significant factor for businesses that fit the healthcare niche. How knowledgeable the site owner or content author is as a topic expert matters.
- Create professional author profile pages.
- Create author bio boxes or information to inform readers of who is writing.
- Add a doctor or physician reviewer to add credibility if the author is less well known.
When assessing trustworthiness and expertise, Google’s quality raters look at elements such as who is responsible for the published content, who reviewed it, and what unique value does it provide. The stakes and rewards are high for this kind of qualified content.
For example, if you are publishing content on How to do a Full Mouth Dental Restoration, inform your audience and Google as to which doctor wrote it. Show their expertise, tell how many years they’ve been practicing medicine in this field, their title, and what their accomplishments are. This avoids your audience and search engines evaluating it as an opinion piece written by a photographer or chef. their experience doesn’t justify the time spent reading what they have to say on the topic.
Authoritativeness mostly relates closely to the level of recognition you are perceived as in your industry as an expert. If you’re a leading presenter or blogger in the world of jaw pain and deliver unique high-quality content, expect shares and mentions. Your
MedicalArticle schema markup will provide the details to search engines so that they can tag and note your topic authority expertise.
“Formal expertise is important for YMYL topics such as medical, financial, or legal advice. “, QRG, page 26
When real structure is applied to content via schema, a search engine crawler can not only see text and code. It is empowered to discover data sets, entities, types, properties, values, author attribution, and actions. It then “paints” a picturesque world rich with details that help it digest this content, relate it to the real world, and catalog it in search to best match up to a people’s search queries.
While Google may already know who wrote which articles, one of its patents explains the use of a neural network system trained on a set of words that may be part of how it identifies an author. It is not solely dependent on on-page text identifying by what author; but including it is certainly helpful. The patent is called Generating author vectors
YMML Sites Need Strong Authority Signals both On-site and Off
An effective healthcare E-A-T content strategy needs to be shaped by the Quality Rankers guidelines.
Finance and Healthcare sites need to pay particular attention to Google’s official Quality Rankers guidelines. They are currently 176 pages long. The E-A-T and YMYL acronyms show up often.
How often is E-A-T mentioned in Google’s Quality Ranker Guidelines?
The acronym E-A-T is repeated 137 times.
How often is YMYL mentioned in Google’s Quality Ranker Guidelines?
YLYM is reported 113 times. Meaning that these terms are important enough to analyze comprehensively for healthcare sites.
5% of all Google searches are health-related, according to the February 10, 2015, A remedy for your health-related questions: health info in the Knowledge Graph article by Prem Ramaswami. Google is a trusted resource for people worldwide to get answers to health-related questions and find providers. This volume is steadily increasing, especially given COVID-19 related health concerns. As of March 11, 2019, “an estimated 7 percent of Google’s daily searches are health-related”, according to Google Health Vice President David Feinberg, MD. The Becker Hospital Google receives more than 1 billion health questions every day article by Jackie Drees talks about how the search-engine giant faced sharp criticism for its role in surfacing misinformation about vaccines to its video-sharing YouTube viewers.
This has pressed the need forward for vetting YMYL content more carefully.
Meet E-A-T criteria by adding signals that promote trustworthiness on your site.
The right blog posts can significantly boost e-a-t signals for YMYL sites. As well, healthcare organizations that offer news and current events have a better chance of showing up in Google Discover. Google states that they are committed to improving the lives of as many people as possible; meaning there is a real need for content that meets its high standards.
How Google Core Updates Influence E-A-T and YMYL Content
Google seeks proof of expertise in formats it recognizes in order to trust health-related content.
Each occurrence of a Google core update triggers speculation about how it may influence rankings and what ranking factors are highest. If your medical or health-related site is penalized with a manual action, you need someone familiar with the steps necessary to take to determine if it’s related to E-A-T. Hill Web Marketing examines what got hit, such as specific pages, topic sections, a possible subdomain, whether or not it’s organic search related or more directly related to news and discovery content pieces.
We closely audit using Google Search Console reports to determine if there are pre-indications. Search engines seek affirming links, citations, etc., meaning this can build your online profile. Audit and review your existing content to uncover ways to optimize with E-A-T and YMYL in mind. This should be a part of every health-related site’s business marketing plan.
Given the advancements of NLP, NLU, MUM, machine-learning, and AI-generated content, updates potentially change the SEO landscape. Some are asking about how AI-generated, structured content may be impacted in all health-related niches. We believe it has a place but will still benefit from a human topic expert that knows whether or not the text makes sense and/or is correct.
Product Graph use-cases will be looking for the following healthcare product entities:
- Providing sufficient information.
- Providing consumers with choices.
- Improving easy search operators.
- Improving Recommendations for related products.
Healthcare providers must rise to the level of consumer engagement seen in other forward-thinking industries and meet health consumer expectations for optimal content. On-page signals in your content and sentiment that reflect your brand matter.
Additional ways to promote trustworthiness on your site include:
- Provide clear business contact details that welcome queries and comments.
- Include the business’s physical location, i.e. your clinic’s main office or store address
- Make available a Terms and Conditions page, which is accessible to everyone.
- If you sell medical-related retail products, try to provide comprehensive product specifications and include any relevant safety advice.
- If you have a shopping cart or accept online transactions, post a clear refunds and returns policies.
- Ensure that your domain has full and correct HTTPS implementation to avoid deceptive 3-party entity theft.
- Link out to authority sites that support your topic and opinion.
Complying with E-A-T as a framework when evaluating how to improve your business’s digital marketing means having a holistic approach to SEO and content marketing.
“Because of the recent E-A-T update and how current machine learning algorithms have impacted YMYL sites, many in the industry take up stealth and research work to determine how to come out more competitive and/or save their page rankings from plummeting. To show up fast when needed, healthcare websites should ensure that the user experience on both desktop and mobile is well-optimized and functions great.” – How To Prepare Healthcare Sites For Google’s Page Experience Update by Jeannie Hill on Serpstat
Summary for Meeting Healthcare E-A-T and YMYL content criteria
Successful YMYL content is about much more than just writing, strategizing, and marketing. It’s where you are communicating word by word who you are. Be fair. Be agile. Be transparent. Develop people skills. Use a tone that always honors your audience. Remember, that your content will perform best if all essential schema markup types are used to help explain it.
Is your web pages are not attracting the number of viewers that you thought it would? Or are you are ready to prioritize what you can d to improve and gain higher search results? Google repeatedly states that EAT factors for YMYL businesses cannot be optimized in the shortest possible time. It’s a shared challenge is to make your expertise visible and clear to the world. Those that rise to this challenge gain a long-term, decisive competitive advantage in future organic search success.
Learn how to improve your website’s visibility by adding our content management services to set-up your SEO Content Audit for Improvement Discovery