Continuing our series of posts on ‘enjoyable wellness’, Click Consult’s Chloie Brandrick explores how if your website promotes products or services related to health or wellness, you have a responsibility to prove your ethical credentials – not just to customers, clients and regulators, but also to Google – if you want to be found in search engine results, then it helps to keep Google on side.

In its quest to deliver results that meet users’ needs, Google contracts more than 10,000 humans worldwide to manually evaluate its search results on the basis of relevancy and quality. These quality raters are given actual searches to conduct, drawn from real searches that happen on Google, and are provided with a set of Quality Rater Guidelines – detailed instructions on how they should score a particular page and search result.

For marketers, these also serve as best practice guidance to perform well on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Is your website classed at YMYL?

Google categorises YMYL (‘your money or your life’) sites as those that could affect a user’s health, happiness or financial stability, and holds them to a higher standard of quality.

All sites dealing with medical information and advice fall under this category, along with those dealing with, for example safety, financial guidance, child adoption – and all online shopping sites. Google doesn’t want to return inaccurate or misinformed content around the YMYL topics, as this could have significant consequences for Google’s users if they follow the given advice. Poor information, especially around health, is seen as a high risk for Google.

Google asks its raters to look for expertise, authority and trustworthiness

Google wants its raters to not only look at the quality of a website’s content, but also the authority of the people who write it – highlighting how important it is that sites demonstrate what’s known in the organic search (SEO) industry as ‘EAT’: expertise, authority and trustworthiness. As Google looks to continuously improve user experience and return the most appropriate results indications suggested that Google was rewarding sites adhering to its EAT guidelines.

There were wide reports of a massive impact, especially on medical and health-related sites. This is because, for queries potentially affecting YMYL, it’s even more crucial that Google identifies the source with the most expertise, authority and trust – and ranks them accordingly.

As an example, to be considered ‘high EAT’, web pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organisations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent well-established scientific consensus on issues (where this exists). Raters may check the reputation of a site/author by looking at Wikipedia and other informational sources, and may also take into account popularity, user engagement, and user reviews.

Tips for the top

Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines exist to help its raters ensure good content does well and low quality, spammy content doesn’t. But they also offer valuable guidance to businesses – and especially those in the health and personal care industries.

  1. Consider the focus of the page. Always putting main content front and centre. Avoid disguising content. Focus on user friendliness and meeting visitors’ needs.Keep your content fresh and expand on it as your business develops and/or your offering changes.
  2. Ensure supplementary content doesn’t distract from your main contentThis can include sidebar tips, similar articles, helpful content, and images.
  3. Ensure your site is optimised for mobileThis should be an immediate priority as non-Mobile-Friendly sites are seen by Google as low quality.
  4. Provide basic company info, such as an About Us page, Contact Us, and customer service info page: this info is imperative for YMYL sites.
  5. Demonstrate your writers’ credibility. If they’ve got relevant experience and qualifications, make sure they’re mentioned on your site. You should also use author pages on your site detailing their areas of expertise and links to their social profiles where appropriate. It’s also a good idea to encourage your writers to contribute to leading blogs within your industry and niche to help establish them as an expert. This can help your website to rank as you’ll be seen as having writers who really know their stuff.
  6. Ensure content on YMYL pages is updated regularly. Google even wants to see a ‘last updated’ date.
  7. Meet user intent. Make sure your content caters for your users’ needs and answers their questions clearly and in-depth. If your answer is only 200 words, but you really need 1,000 words to give a complete and thorough answer then it may need fleshing out. For example, if you’re trying to rank for “how to treat cracked heels” the user is probably expecting step-by-step instructions on what actions they need to take. If you don’t go into the expected level of detail, the user’s needs aren’t served, so you’re unlikely to rank as well. So understanding how content needs to meet specific needs and tailoring for user intent isn’t just about keywords; you need to be strategic and this involves defining what you want to achieve, and knowing your market and your audience inside-out.
  8. Study competitors. Look at who is around you, how their content is laid out and what they are saying. A tip is to look at competitor sites that perform well, as Google clearly likes the content.

Focus Magazine

This article appears in Issue 1 of Ceuta’s Focus Magazine. Read the rest of the magazine here: