Your Money or Your Life: Need to know SEO

Have you heard of the term “your money or your life” when it comes to content and websites? It’s often seen as the acronym YMYL, and it might play a greater role in how your site ranks than you’re aware of. Not all high-risk payment gateways are created equal, and neither are sites and content in the eyes of Google.

Sites with content on subjects that have the potential to “impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users” are reviewed with a greater degree of scrutiny. It also means that if you sell FFL products, tactical gear, cigars online, or other high-risk products, you may be considered a YMYL site.

This is why we thought we’d shed some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) light on YMYL content, and what to keep in mind about it. Another reason is that over the last month and a half, there’s been quite a lot of turbulence within search engine results for a large number of sites.

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The late September, early October Google update particularly affected YMYL sites. We won’t dive into the specifics, but if you’re interested in looking into examples and data, feel free to check this expansive article on the Google algorithm update. What we’ll do instead is expand on what elements you should focus on and how you can improve your site.

The importance of accuracy and substantiated claims for high-risk content

Obviously, being honest and accurate is always important for any business when discussing products and services. This is equally true for the purpose of ranking highly in search engines – doubly so for sites that are in the YMYL bracket. As the Quality Rater’s Guidelines state:

“We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low-quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”

This means that your site needs to focus on providing content that is as accurate as possible with clearly substantiated claims. If you want your high-risk site to outperform your competitor, you need to be producing top-quality content, both in regard to SEO and the subject you’re discussing. Try, wherever you can, to substantiate your claims and facts in your content by linking to authoritative external sources.

How to produce and maintain excellent and accurate content

There are various steps you can take to improve your content. For starters, having expert authors will greatly improve the overall quality. Many also choose to hire an SEO company to proofread, edit, or create content to improve the SEO side of things.

Another thing we highly recommend is reviewing your previously published content at regular intervals. This allows you to ensure that existing advice and content remains accurate and that your claims have remained correct over time.

How you choose to update this content is up to you. Some choose to simply rewrite the older articles and update the publication date (republishing the article). Others decide to insert a distinct sentence to the effect of “a new edition of this article can be found here” with a link to the new piece (as you can see in this article on Authorize.Net and FFL/e-cig sales). This ensures that your visitors don’t take action based on expired data and advice.

E-A-T and high-risk e-commerce sites

If you’re unfamiliar with the term E-A-T, it refers to Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. E-A-T is one of the cornerstones of page quality ratings for all sites, regardless of niche and purpose. We won’t discuss how E-A-T comes into play for all manner of websites, but rather focus on high-risk e-commerce sites. If you’d like to read all the details of E-A-T, you can check the Quality Rater’s Guideline.

The importance of E-A-T for YMYL and high-risk sites

While E-A-T is important for all sites, it’s vital for YMYL (read most high-risk) sites. This means that the expertise, authority, and trustworthiness of your high-risk pipe and glassware e-commerce site, for example, should be obvious.

Your site’s expertise should be obvious through the quality of the content itself, as well as by having information about the creator readily available. Highlighting this expertise actually serves multiple purposes. While it helps demonstrate the value your site has to offer, it also reassures visitors and helps convert them into sales. You’ll be able to drive traffic and convert visitors to customers by encouraging E-A-T on your site.

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Simple steps to implement E-A-T for your high-risk e-commerce site

As a “Your Money or Your Life” site, you must be sure to keep expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in mind throughout your site. You should keep these elements clear and accessible from the footer of your theme:

  • Privacy policy
  • Contact information
  • About page

If possible, you should also make external authority indicators readily available and visible to your visitors. These can include widgets or links to sources such as:

  • Better Business Bureau accreditation
  • Yelp reviews
  • Facebook reviews

The point here is to find ways you can prove that those who’ve done business with you are, in fact, happy with your services. These elements are strong indications for the expertise and trustworthiness of both your site and your business.

E-A-T for YMYL and high-risk sites in a nutshell

As a high-risk site, you are categorized as a YMYL site. As such, you need to be creating quality content on your subject. Expert SEO editors are recommended for improving rankings in search engines. As a YMYL site, you must be sure to keep E-A-T in mind throughout your site and include:

  • Easy to find contact and company information
  • Easy to find external authority indicators (BBB, Yelp, etc.)
  • External links to substantiate claims and facts
  • Expertly written content
  • Ensure accuracy by regularly updating your content

If you do the above, you’ll be well on your way to improving your rankings in general, and helping yourself recover if you’ve dropped in rankings since the latest Google core algorithm update. It will improve how you show up in search queries as well as helping you reach your target audience. Not to mention that great content leads to an improved user experience.

Image of Christoffer SEO Founder & CEOChristoffer is the Founder and CEO of Virtual Visibility Media, an SEO and Inbound Marketing company, based in NYS. Having experience as an SEO operations manager, consultant, and writer, for campaigns covering 14 countries, he always looks to further advice and insights on developments in the SEO sphere for a wide audience. If you would like to talk to Christoffer about SEO services or implementing an SEO strategy for your high-risk business, contact us anytime for an introduction!