Google’s new Search Quality Rater Guidelines update contains changes and additions to Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) that significantly impact page rankings. It is thus necessary to learn what they are and how to incorporate them into new and old content to improve search rankings.
While search engine optimization (SEO) and content specialists agree that Google E-A-T plays a role in search rankings, no one can empirically say how important it is. One reason is failing to understand the answer to the question “What is YMYL content?” As a result, creators have difficulty creating a YMYL site and content that addresses search engine user intent and criteria to rank higher.
On July 28, 2022, Google updated its Search Quality Raters Guidelines. As per the Guideline Change Log found in Appendix 2, the summary of changes are:
• Refreshed language to be aligned with the newly published Search Quality Rater Guidelines: An Overview.
• Refined YMYL to focus on topics that require a high level of accuracy to prevent significant harm; added a new table of examples and refreshed existing examples.
• Added clarifications to Low and Lowest Page Quality sections to emphasize that the type and level of E-A-T depends on the purpose of the page and that low-quality and harmful pages can occur on any type of website.
• Refactored language throughout to be applicable across all device types.
• Minor changes throughout (updated screenshots; removed or updated outdated examples and concepts; removed user location when irrelevant, etc.).
The updated Google Quality Raters Guidelines could not have arrived better. For instance, the updated definition of YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) should provide more clarity to content and SEO internet marketing services on “what is high-quality content” and “what is low-quality content.” Furthermore, it explains how digital content may harm individuals or society.
The current update also explains how much Google E-A-T matters to the page quality of YMYL content and the effects of having low-quality content on authoritative and trustworthy sites.
Although the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines serve as a reference for evaluators, it is also an invaluable resource for content and SEO services. Understanding the latest Google algorithm update allows them to improve Google search results that show up on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
What Is a Google Quality Rater?
Google uses an automated system to crawl, index and rank pages/posts based on search keywords. From time to time, they release a Google search algorithm update so that the search results would match user intent. Still, Google needs humans to keep improving its search engine.
Google Quality Raters are people contracted by Google to assist them in evaluating web pages that appear in search results. Their services come into play during a planned Google search algorithm update. In such cases, Google would generate hundreds of search results in two sets – one with the latest Google algorithm update and another with the planned changes.
The raters would also rate results using a rating scale defined in the Google Quality Raters Guidelines. Specifically, they would look at the following two criteria.
• Needs Met (NM)
• Page Quality (PQ)
Note that the ratings of search quality raters do not affect the Google SERP ranking of the websites they check. Instead, their work is the basis for implementing a Google search algorithm update to improve Google search results.
What Google Updated in the July 2022 Search Quality Raters Guidelines
The most significant updates Google made answer these questions:
• What is YMYL content?
• How important is Google E-A-T to page quality?
• What is low-quality content?
• What is high-quality content?
1. YMYL (Your Money or Your Life)
In previous versions of the Search Quality Raters Guidelines, Google broke down YMYL topics into several categories:
• News and current events
• Civics, government and law
• Health and safety
• Groups of people
In the July 2022 update, Google removed those categories. Instead, they now define a YMYL site or page by its potential to cause harm.
The new version of the Quality Rater Guidelines now defines YMYL by its potential to cause harm. These topics may impact the “health, financial stability, or safety of people or the welfare or well-being of society.”
Google also defined who the harmful topics might harm:
• The person who directly viewed or used the content.
• Other people affected by the person who viewed or used the content.
• Groups of people or society who are affected by the actions of people who viewed or used the content.
Next, Google also defined YMYL topics as:
• Harmful or dangerous, including self-harm, criminal acts and violent extremism.
• Causing harm if it is inaccurate or untrustworthy.
The updated Google Quality Raters Guidelines instruct raters to determine if a topic is YMYL by considering the type of harm it may cause:
• Health or safety
• Financial security
Another addition in the update is that Google does not consider a hypothetical harmful page about a non-harmful topic as YMYL. For content to be YMYL, it must have the potential to cause harm or impact the well-being of people.
To help assess whether a topic is Your Money or Your Life, Google included a new table with examples on page 12 of the Search Quality Raters Guidelines.
2. Google E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness)
Google highly values websites that demonstrate their expertise, authority and trustworthiness. These can be determined by a combination of factors, including the creator, content and website.
In the updated Search Quality Raters Guidelines, Google added “Informational [main content] on YMYL topics is mildly inaccurate or misleading” to its definition of E-A-T in section 6.1.
Google also restated that the level of E-A-T required for a page depends on its purpose and topic. If a page is YMYL, E-A-T is critical because of the potential harm it may cause. Hence, even if a YMYL site has a positive reputation, search quality raters must still rate a page as low-quality content if it has a significant risk of causing harm.
One way for SEO internet marketing services and content creators to interpret the updated definition of E-A-T is to ensure that the content they produce is not potentially harmful to be considered high-quality content for Google SERP ranking. But, of course, that would also depend on many other factors.
3. Lowest Quality Pages
Another change introduced in the July 2022 Search Quality Raters Guidelines is a new section in section 7.0 on Lowest Quality Pages. The addition states that pages from official, expert or authoritative content creators may also be harmful. In this case, search quality raters must give them the lowest quality rating.
Google also instructs search quality raters to closely evaluate pages from government websites, academic institutions, charities, or other generally helpful websites for “purpose, deception, harmfulness, untrustworthiness and spam” before considering any other Page Quality characteristics.
The following are summaries of the different types of Lowest Pages found on pages 43-44.
Incorporate YMYL and E-A-T Guidelines To Boost SERP Rankings
Individuals, businesses and organizations providing content and SEO services must always follow the latest Google algorithm update to keep creating pages and posts optimized for Google SERP ranking.
Keeping up with the latest update on Search Quality Raters Guidelines also provides essential cues to improve Google search results. So besides on-site, off-site and technical SEO strategies, it is also necessary to focus on meeting search user intent by providing content that complies with page quality rating guidelines.
Fortunately, Google did an excellent job of making it easier to understand YMYL, E-A-T and Lowest Quality ratings by providing clarity and including new tables as references.
Still confused? Contact us at 866-908-4748 for more information on creating content that search-quality raters would mark as high-quality content. Our specialists can explain how we incorporate best SEO practices and the latest concepts in content creation to establish expertise, authority and trustworthiness on your website.