In 2015 Google released its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG), revealing its three golden rules to evaluate a website’s content.
- Beneficial Purpose or Page Quality (PQ)
- YMYL (Your Money or Your Life)
- EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
These three pillars are designed to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality content. They are not definitive answers, but they provide clues as to how Google perceives content and ranks websites.
Rule 1: Beneficial Purpose or PQ
Although SQEGs was updated several times since their initial publication in 2015, Google continues to emphasize the importance of a webpage’s purpose. Google says that a webpage should fulfill its intended purpose and that the intended purpose must be user-centered.
It doesn’t really matter if you are trying to teach, sell, show, or promote something to the users, as long as it is centered around them. For example, a web page that is created merely to generate money and displays no intention of ‘benefiting the user’ would be considered a page of the lowest quality. The beneficial purpose of websites ties in closely with user experience (UX) as well, making it one of the most sought-after modifications today.
Rule 2: YMYL (Your Money or Your Life)
‘Your money or your life’ sounds a little bit like a threat you’d hear if you were walking through a dangerous alley in the middle of the night. We suspect Google intentionally used this expression to convey the importance of this guideline.
YMYL content refers to information that, if presented inaccurately, untruthfully, or deceitfully could impact the reader’s happiness, health, safety, or financial stability. In other words, if you create a YMYL page and post misleading or bad information, it could affect the user’s livelihood.
Topics that fall within the category of YMYL include news, political events, government, health and safety, finance, shopping, law, groups of people, nutrition, housing, education, and many more.
Google doesn’t only care about the relevance of the information but also the accuracy. The pages that have YMYL content also need to have EAT in order to rank. Below, we briefly look at what EAT means.
Rule 3: EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
Google’s EAT acronym stands for ‘Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness,’ and it is one of the benchmark guidelines for how Google ranks web pages.
Once Google is satisfied that your webpage has a beneficial purpose, it must determine whether the content is YMYL and consider the level of EAT. The more YMYL the content is, the higher the level of EAT the webpage must-have.
Expertise refers to the creator or author of the content. Are they an expert in the field they are talking about? Do they have credentials published on the website? ‘Everyday expertise’ may be sufficient for recipe blogs, but the standard of expertise for YMYL topics is higher. In other words, the less YMYL the topic is, the lower the standard of expertise is required.
Authoritativeness applies to the author, the webpage, and the content itself. In other words, a level of authority and evidence must be present across all three categories.
Trustworthiness applies three-fold as well. To improve your website’s trustworthiness, you can invite famous authors to write for your blog, focus on long-form content, and cite all your sources.
To sum up
For your webpage to rank well on Google, you ought to consider and improve the three golden content rules: PQ, YMYL, and EAT.
Every webpage needs to have a user-oriented purpose, an expert behind the information, and the potential to impact users’ lives.
But don’t forget, Google is constantly changing and updating. Like any other company, it is competing to stay relevant, as should you and the information on your webpage.