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EAT, YMYL, SEO and beneficial purpose

The marketing industry loves an acronym, we often use acronyms like SEM, SEO, ROI, SERP, PPC, CTR, CPA when we are describing marketing terms. These are all pretty well-known phrases by now...

EAT, YMYL, SEO and beneficial purpose

(although if you need a further lesson here – check out our guide to marketing acronyms blog).

This blog is looking specifically at EAT and YMYL - Google terminology which describes the website quality standards they use to evaluate website content. EAT is a direct ranking factor and an important acronym to understand if you are using content to drive traffic to your website (and that should be everybody!)

It all starts with beneficial purpose…

Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines or SQEG are clues to Google’s ranking factors and one of the most significant changes in recent times was an emphasis on the concept of beneficial purpose in terms of evaluating a websites page quality. In order to have a beneficial purpose “websites and pages should be created to help users”. In particular, the page needs to fulfil its intended purpose in a user-centred way. Google lists some beneficial page purposes for guidance:

  • To share information about a topic
  • To share personal or social information
  • To share pictures, videos or other forms of media
  • To express an opinion or point of view
  • To entertain
  • To sell products or services
  • To allow users to post questions for other users to answer
  • To allow users to share files or to download software

Conversely, pages created with no attempt to help users or with the sole intention of making money will have a low page quality.

For pages which have a beneficial purpose, EAT is very important.

So, what is EAT?

EAT stands for Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness. It is a particularly important factor when websites are providing content which cover topics which are important and possibly life changing. Google calls these kind of subjects YMYL - your money your life - and this covers topics which are related to things like health advice, financial advice, legal advice and anything else which can have a positive or negative impact on your life in terms of health, wealth and happiness.

Google’s definition of YMYL topics from their Search Quality Evaluation Guidlines is:

“Some types of pages or topics could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are examples of YMYL topics:

● News and current events: news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, technology, etc. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL (e.g., sports, entertainment, and everyday lifestyle topics are generally not YMYL). Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale.

● Civics, government, and law: information important to maintaining an informed citizenry, such as information about voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, and legal issues (e.g., divorce, child custody, adoption, creating a will, etc.).

● Finance: financial advice or information regarding investments, taxes, retirement planning, loans, banking, or insurance, particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases or transfer money online.

● 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.

● Groups of people: information about or claims related to groups of people, including but not limited to those grouped on the basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.

● Other: there are many other topics related to big decisions or important aspects of people’s lives which thus may be considered YMYL, such as fitness and nutrition, housing information, choosing a college, finding a job, etc. Please use your judgment. 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.”

Expertise

Expertise refers to the expertise of the creator or author of the main content on a page. The rater guidelines from Google are more sensitive when the main page content is related to a YMYL subject. In order to demonstrate expertise in a YMYL subject it is necessary for content of this type to be attributed a creator and for that creator’s expertise, and credentials if necessary, to be shown on the website. The expertise required depends on the content of the page – for instance, if you are giving financial advice, you would need to be able to show your fitness and qualification to provide such advice.

There is an exception for “everyday expertise” which means that content creators with relevant experience in particular subjects can be considered experts with no formal qualifications or training – as long as the subject is not considered YMYL.

Authoritativeness

The authoritativeness here relates to the website itself, the creator of the main page content and the content itself. To be authoritative you need to be accepted as a good source of information and to be seen as a leader in your industry. Your level of expertise and your credentials can also be a factor in your authoritativeness.

Trustworthiness

Again, trustworthiness relates to the trustworthiness of the content author, the website itself and the actual page content. Some ways to demonstrate your trustworthiness could be by making sure that you have easily accessible contact information, that you show your personal or industry accreditation and by displaying reviews from customers or other social proof. Providing accurate, well written and relevant content is important to show trustworthiness.

Improving your EAT scores

If you are looking to improve your EAT scores – particularly if your website contains YMYL content where a high EAT score is required – here are some tips.

# Re-assess your current website content against the EAT criteria. If you have content on your website which is of low quality you should either remove or rewrite it with the criteria in mind. This is particularly important if you are providing content which is relative to a YMYL subject where a high EAT score is crucial to the Google’s perception of page quality.

# Make sure your site is secure by obtaining an SSL certificate. Sites which are non-https are shown as insecure on Google’s Chrome browser and this can make people not want to visit your website at all.

# If you have an ecommerce element to your website, use appropriate, verifiable badges like Google Checkout, PayPal and Visa to demonstrate site safety.

# Attribute website content to specific authors and show their credential and expertise.

# Moderate any user generated content to make sure it is of a high quality.

# Use links to authoritative sources of information. If you make reference to a piece of research or other information on your website provide a link to that information.

# Provide lots of high-quality information on your website and keep adding more. Whilst your site visitors will not necessarily read everything you put up – Google will. Creating high quality content for your website cannot be achieved over night and it is better for you to build this up over time to build authority.

For more information on content marketing – you may want to download our ultimate guide to content marketing which contains lots of actionable tips and advice to improve site content.




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