If only Jerry Seinfeld worked in the digital marketing space because a great question he’d have would be, “What’s the deal with all the acronyms in digital marketing?”
From understanding EAT and asking yourself, “What is YMYL content?” to the shortening of all the Google properties to GA, GSC, and everything in between, a broad swath of digital marketing and SEO deals with acronyms of all sorts.
Two such acronyms that are often top of mind for digital marketers, and even more so in the realm of SEO, are EAT and YMYL. So, what are they, what do they mean for you, and why should you pay attention? We dig into both acronyms in this blog.
What is YMYL Content?
YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” and relates to content on a website that can affect, you guessed it, your money or your life. The specific topics that have to do with YMYL content are any topics that may have an impact on a person’s happiness, health, safety, and financial stability. For a full, in-depth table on understanding what YMYL content is, see this document. Scroll down to page 11, which delves more into categories that can be found within each specific topic.
Some examples that are referred to as YMYL content include:
- News and current events
- Information related to financial health (including retirement or investment accounts)
- Health and wellness information, such as any medical advice regarding prescriptions and weight loss or gain
Are you trying to figure out if a blog post versus a category page versus another blog post are YMYL content? A good rule of thumb with this question is to ask yourself whether most people would consult friends for information on these topics in casual conversations – if this is the case, then you likely aren’t dealing with YMYL content. However, your content would be YMYL content if most people who are seeking the information would go to an expert for insight on these topics. This specific type of content would harmfully affect people if the information was inaccurate.
Because YMYL content can negatively impact people’s lives if the content is incorrect, search engines take the information more seriously than other types of content. And this is where showcasing expertise, authority, and trust comes into play in relation to content.
What is EAT?
Simply put, EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trust. EAT (or E-A-T) has been a burgeoning strategy for Google for some time now, and the search engine has begun to emphasize EAT more and more. With so much content on the Internet, it’s vital that you incorporate EAT into your content strategy. Furthermore, search engines such as Google have triggers to understand that if a blog post or webpage of any sort is written by an expert who has authority and can then be trusted, then that piece of content is likely to be linked to YMYL.
To no longer belabor the point, and to simplify further than just knowing it stands for expertise, authority, and trust, we’re breaking EAT down here.
What’s the deal with: Expertise
Let’s say you’ve written a blog on how airplanes are made but you’ve winged it — pun intended — because you don’t know anything about planes besides the fact that you can get from one side of the country to another in a little over five hours. But, you really need to write the blog so the website can rank for keywords that have a cohesive link to your website, or maybe you’re just really interested in the topic but not necessarily an expert.
Now, will Google’s algorithms look nicely on this blog with keywords placed on the blog starting to rank, leading to more organic traffic to the blog? It’s highly unlikely.
But, why is that?
Not only was the blog written for search engines, it did not have any perspective on airplanes from an expert.
For Google to look highly on content, expertise is a leading factor for users to trust what is on the page is factual. Expertise doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be a trained pilot with 20 years of experience — only that you are knowledgeable about the subject and are able to prove that expertise. Many times, proven expertise is through the expert being known for writing about that topic.
What’s the deal with: Authority
Similar to having expert knowledge as part of the “E” in EAT, having authority in a subject or topic is vital. By having authority, the content on the page that’s written by the author, or ghostwriter of the author, is seen as having dominance of the subject.
The meaning of having authority is a person having the power to make decisions and relay orders on to others, as well as being able to enforce the structure of conformity. In layman’s terms, having authority is likened to someone who has the learned experiences to be able to make broader decisions and take charge when nobody else steps up.
In many ways, including in increasing SEO metrics as well as through SEO writing, authority is often built through nurturing relationships and simply putting in time and effort with the topic at hand.
Authority can be built by putting in research toward a subject and subsequently creating content around that topic. By becoming an authority on a topic, the next step is often to reach out to other sites (or other sites reach out to yours) to achieve a backlink profile. By acquiring links back to your website, your authoritative voice will continue to expand and increase.
Having expertise and authority is great, but the final part of EAT, trust, is crucial to have a holistic strategy for search engines to find and boost your content.
What’s the deal with: Trust
Trust, the last part of EAT, is the third pillar that is necessary for those SEO signals that search engines are aware of. After showing your expertise and relaying your authority to any site visitors, trust is the needed pillar for website content.
If you post something to a website’s blog, and if you have expertise and authority but not trust, what good is that content? Trust is important because it means users have confidence that the content published on the website is, in fact, trustworthy.
Any author worth their salt understands that there is a weight of responsibility to their readers in that the content that is posted to a website is factual and does not deviate from what is known as being true.
What’s the deal with: YMYL and EAT for you?
With search engines like Google ranking content that has checked the boxes for expertise, authority, and trust higher, any author should be making sure that they consider each of those pillars.
If you have a website that tends to have stagnant information, it might be worthwhile to bolster that content and refresh it, accordingly, with EAT in mind. This could mean keeping the baseline bits of information but possibly adding:
- A Q&A with an expert in the field for which your page might require more information
- FAQ dropdowns or paragraphs that further help guide users to your site and gain trust in your expertise
- Media that is useful for a richer user experience (this could mean a video embed, an audio link to a podcast, an infographic, or simply an image)
All content needs to be worked at and nurtured for it to make an impact, including YMYL content. But how you go about increasing keywords, page visibility, and building up that expertise, authority, and trust, as well as ultimately gaining a higher domain authority — through strategic tactics and initiatives that highlight the importance of your content — is up to you.
May I stress again, though, my initial Seinfeld-esque question: what is up with all the acronyms in digital marketing? Like the wise owl once said, the world may never know.