Search attorney John Mueller emphasizes that when it comes to ranking content related to health and finance, Google places the greatest emphasis on expertise, authority and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
This topic is covered extensively as part of Google Search Central's SEO hangout recorded on March 26th.
Ritu Nagarkoti, who runs SEO for a medical e-commerce website, seeks advice from Miller on tactics that can increase traffic and visibility.
According to Mueller, a medical ecommerce store likely falls into the YMYL (Your Money Your Life) website category, which Google maintains to a higher standard than other types of websites.
Following SEO best practices is always a good idea. However, ranking YMYL websites is less about the individual tactics and more about making sure the content comes from an expert authority that users can trust.
Google's John Mueller on the ranking of YMYL websites
About Using SEO Tactics to Rank YMYL Websites, Mueller says:
"I think that's always hard. I don't think there is any magic trick that will automatically get you traffic from search. I think it's always a good idea to follow best practices in general to get a Make a good website. It's important to make sure you can get the word out. But especially on medical issues that are a little more critical, I would also keep an eye on everything to do with the EAT, so the expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
Make sure the website you are serving is of a really high standard. And that the content is really high quality and put together by people who understand what they're doing. That there is no such thing as a garage exit. And that is something that I consider to be overly critical, especially in the medical field. "
Read on below
Mueller points to a 2019 blog post by Google that goes into greater detail on questions website owners may ask about the quality of their website.
“We have a blog post that has some of the specific information for the core algorithm update that I think we did sometime last year. It covers a number of questions you can ask yourself, and it also includes links to guidelines for reviewers who talk a little about these types of sites.
So we call them YMYL, your money, your side of life. And I would see a medical ecommerce website fall into that category as well. And there are several different things to think about and I don't think there is an easy trick to make it look official. You really need to make sure that you actually have that official grade. "
When asked for more detailed advice on SEO tactics, Müller emphasizes again that this is not that easy.
Read on below
Google's algorithms are picky about YMYL websites, and Mueller sees this as a good thing.
Website owners can look at Google's quality rating guidelines and think about how their website might be perceived if they were manually reviewed by one of Google's human quality assessors.
"I don't think there's an easy approach to this. And I think, especially when it comes to medical content, I find it very important that our algorithms there be very picky about what we show. I would So check out the Quality Assessment Guidelines and really think about how your website might be perceived by the Quality Assessors.
The quality assessors don't create the algorithms, but they give us a lot of insight into what we could do in our algorithms. So I would highly recommend going through this. And I think websites like this in particular are less about the tactics and more about making sure that they are really a legitimate business and that they are backed by suitable trustworthy sources.
So not just high quality content and all of this syndication, all of these things. But to really make sure it was written by the doctor, it was created by medical professionals who are legitimate in their field. "
An SEO by the name of Marc Opitz adds to this discussion that he had similar challenges writing on medical topics without being a doctor.
He notes that YMYL sites have been hit hard lately and asks Muller for possible tips.
Mueller suggests again to review the guidelines for quality raters.
“The core updates aren't specific to medical locations, but many of the questions and prompts that come with them generally apply to them as well.
My recommendation would really be to look at the Guidelines for Quality Ratings and really go through them and think more about whether a Quality Rater is looking at your site or the general area in which your site is active. Like some of your competitors, how they might respond to review requests there.
And the quality assessors are not a one-to-one assignment to our algorithms, but give us an input. Deal with this attitude often and try to be objective when looking at your website which will give you some ideas about what you can possibly do differently. "
Read on below
At this point in the discussion, Miller suggests some specific improvements that can be made to improve a site's E-A-T.
If the content is being written by an agency on the subject, Mueller recommends doing more to highlight who is writing it.
Another way to handle this is to have at least a legitimate expert review the content and highlight it somewhere on the page.
"And sometimes those are the little things like just better highlighting who is creating the content, where it came from, and who has reviewed the content. Sometimes they are bigger things that you are very knowledgeable about. When I write on medical topics, I should maybe make sure I have a doctor or a doctor who actually reviews the content, somehow the perspective changes a little there.
But all of these things are more difficult in my opinion because it is not a pure yes or no situation. You need to look at your website and think about what variations there could be that I could do. Or where might I unexpectedly run into problems? "
Read on below
Mueller closes his thoughts with an unspecific greeting to SEOs in this area who focus on the E-A-T topic.
There have been several case studies of these people that Müller said are instructive.
“There are also a handful of really smart SEOs out there who have focused on the whole EAT topic and write about it on a regular basis. They present about it at conferences. I would definitely check that too. I found some of the case studies that I showed really enlightening. "
Hear the full discussion of E-A-T and YMYL sites in the video below: