What is YMYL?

YMYL stands for "Your Money or Your Life" and refers to topics and pages that could have real-world effects on users. 

What Is Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Content?

People turn to search engines to research and find information on a huge variety of topics, ranging from health concerns to financial questions to developing news stories. If the information they find is inaccurate, outdated, fraudulent, or simply incorrect, it could have real-world consequences for them. Google defines this type of information as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content; in other words, “pages or topics that could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”

Google introduced the concept of YMYL content in the first version of its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG). These guidelines were originally created to help independent contractors assess the quality of their search engine results pages in an effort to improve Google’s ranking algorithm and results. However, these guidelines have also provided valuable insights into how Google works and what they believe makes pages worthy of ranking highly in the SERPS.

Since its inception, YMYL content has been crucial to search engine optimization and content marketing efforts. It has been the focus of several algorithm updates — including the infamous Medic update — as Google works to provide the most relevant results and better satisfy searcher intent. Essentially, YMYL has shifted how content is created and changed the search landscape we see today. If you’re looking to get your content to the top of the SERPs, it’s critical to fully understand what YMYL content is and how you can use it to your advantage when it comes to SEO.

YMYL Content Examples

In the SQEG, Google has identified several common YMYL topics, including:

  • News and current events;
  • Civics, government, and law;
  • Finance;
  • Shopping;
  • Health and safety;
  • And groups of people.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all YMYL niches. Any page that offers users advice, helps them make a decision, encourages them to take a particular action, or could otherwise affect their lives can be considered a YMYL page. Google encourages search evaluators to use their best judgment when trying to decide what sites or content are YMYL.

If you use Google Search regularly, you’ve likely used it to find information about a YMYL topic. Say, for example, you’re looking to buy a new car. In this case, you may have searched for answers to multiple queries that are considered YMYL, such as how to choose which car to buy or how to sell your old vehicle, as well as actually shopping for cars online. Each one of these searches is on YMYL topics because the results presented to you could guide your decision on which car to buy, the price you sell your old car for, or how much you spend on your new car. In other words, these results might impact your money or your life in some way.

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How Google Ranks YMYL Content

YMYL content is ranked differently than non-YMYL content. In a 2019 white paper, Google explained their approach to ranking YMYL pages: “Where our algorithms detect that a user’s query relates to a ‘YMYL’ topic, we will give more weight in our ranking systems to factors like our understanding of the authoritativeness, expertise, or trustworthiness of the pages we present in response.” 

Google also believes that users want them to adhere to the “strictest standards of trustworthiness and safety” for YMYL searches. In an effort to achieve that goal, they look at YMYL content more closely for quality and accuracy. Because of this added scrutiny, it can be more difficult to rank highly for YMYL queries. 

This means you should think carefully about what topics you try to cover, and what keywords you try to rank for, depending on your brand, industry, and goals. Ultimately, Google doesn’t care how you feel about your content or if you believe it deserves to rank by virtue of its existence — they are focused on providing the best, most relevant search results to their users. When it comes to YMYL content, the best results are also factually accurate, up-to-date, and helpful, rather than harmful, to searchers.


When ranking YMYL content, Google considers the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) of a given page:

  • Expertise: Was the main content of the page created by a subject-matter expert? Do they have any credentials or information available online to “prove” their expertise.
  • Authoritativeness: Does the content come from an author, brand, or website who is recognized by others as an authority or leader in that field?
  • Trustworthiness: Do users trust the author, brand, or website to share accurate, factual, correct information? Does this information come from a reputable and reliable source?

Some topics require higher E-A-T than others, but high E-A-T is an absolute necessity for YMYL queries with real-world consequences. Using this framework, Google can confirm that they’re featuring high-quality authentic content at the top of the SERPs. 

High-Quality Content vs. Low-Quality Content

Google also explains what constitutes high-quality content in the SQEG. Like YMYL and E-A-T, these guidelines are meant to help their contractors assess the quality of the SERPs and pages they encounter in their work. While these may not be direct ranking factors, they do provide useful insight for those looking to succeed with a content-based marketing strategy. Per the SQEG, characteristics of a high-quality page include:

  • High E-A-T;
  • Enough main content to satisfy readers, including a descriptive title or title tag;
  • Enough information about the website or the person responsible for the website to satisfy readers, including customer service information for sites that facilitate financial transactions;
  • And a positive reputation for the website, the person responsible for the website, or the author of the main content

Similarly, the SQEG details some of the characteristics of a low-quality page:

  • Fails to serve its intended purpose (or lacks one altogether) or provide value to readers;
  • Attempts to harm users, including pages that attempt to scam, deceive, or misinform users;
  • Promotes hate or violence;
  • Has little, low-quality, or duplicated main content;
  • Or was written by an author or hosted on a website with a poor reputation.

Many of these standards relate directly to users and their search experience, especially when it comes to YMYL topics. Google wants to protect users from potentially harmful or dishonest content by providing the best, most helpful, and most accurate results. YMYL is, essentially, part of how Google defines high-quality, rank-worthy content.

YMYL Content & SEO

As Google strives to better understand searcher intent, it’s impossible to ignore the relationship between YMYL content and SEO. After all, providing users with the best results for a given question is integral to how Google works.

YMYL may not be an explicit ranking factor or explain how the algorithm works, but it does provide a useful framework for understanding how to go about creating content for organic search when dealing with YMYL topics. Here are a few more tips that can be helpful when creating YMYL content for SEO:

  • Create high-quality content: Whether you’re looking to earn links or rank for your chosen keywords, you have to create high-quality content. This includes following Google’s recommendations in the SQEG, as well as other known ranking factors (such as on-page best practices and technical optimizations). Make sure this content is relevant to your brand and services and written by a subject-matter expert.
  • Link externally in your content: Always include external links to other sites in every single piece of content you create. External citations allow link equity to pass from your domain to the site you linked to — and vice versa — which can help make your own site seem more trustworthy. Only link to other authoritative sites, as linking to spammy or low-quality pages can reduce the quality of your own page.
  • Build links to your content: Conversely, you should secure links to your own content. Backlinks from other sites also pass link equity from that domain to your own site. This works to boost the authority of your own site, since other domains are willing to cite you as a source and associate their brand with yours.
  • Boost your site or brand’s E-A-T: Take some time to boost your site’s overall E-A-T. Make your contact information and business history readily available, and update any low-quality pages on your site. Monitor any user-generated content on your domain, such as comments and forums, to make sure it aligns with your branding. Finally, stop employing any black hat SEO practices (such as link spam or keyword stuffing) that could permanently damage your brand’s reputation and rankings.
  • Boost your authors’ E-A-T: Take some time to boost the E-A-T of your writers, too. Make sure they have visible, easily-accessible profiles on your site, including links to their social media profiles or their own domains. You can also encourage them to guest post on other sites in your niche to position them as industry experts.
  • Get help: If you’re struggling to create content or improve your site’s rankings, you may want to enlist the help of SEO experts. SEO can be challenging, especially when it comes to YMYL topics, and getting help with your site’s SEO can set your domain up for long-term success in the SERPs.

Remember that YMYL isn’t necessarily the end-all and be-all of SEO, particularly since Google’s algorithm is constantly changing and evolving. However, thinking about content creation through the lens of YMYL requires you to think about how to provide the best experience to your users, including how you can best satisfy their intent for accurate information — and that is an absolute necessity for anyone aiming to rank in the SERPs.