Whether or not you’re an expert in search engine optimisation, it’s clear that those in the profession love a good acronym (SEO, PPC, CPC, CTR… the list goes on!). And, as a professional or marketer for a financial services or accountancy firm, there are two more SEO acronyms to know about if you want to improve your search rankings and drive more traffic to your website:
- E-A-T – tech-talk for ‘Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness’
- YMYL – tech-talk for ‘Your Money or Your Life’
In this article, I’ll be talking you through exactly what these terms mean, and why they should be an important consideration within your firm’s marketing strategy.
What is E-A-T and why is it important?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
- Expertise: the knowledge and skillset of the author
- Authoritativeness: the authority of the author, the content they’re writing, and the website it’s on
- Trustworthiness: the reliability of the content, the author of the content, and the website it’s on
At its simplest level, E-A-T is based on the following idea: Google is hungry for good value content (pun fully intended). Google doesn’t want to send searchers to content that misleads its readers, intentionally or not, or isn’t factually accurate. When delivering search results based on the searcher’s query, Google will consider a huge range of factors, including Page Quality (PQ), so the more accurate, beneficial and helpful the content, the better the page will fare for the Page Quality check.
The Google Quality Rater Guidelines provide a helpful explanation of E-A-T in relation to Page Quality:
Remember that the first step of PQ rating is to understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating.
In the past few years, E-A-T has been popular in the SEO community as a way of explaining how the Google algorithm judges websites and their content based on how they demonstrate expertise, authority and trust.
Back in August 2018, there was a particular Google algorithm update that really highlighted the increased prominence of E-A-T, nicknamed the ‘Medic Update’. Although the focus wasn’t necessarily on medical or healthcare websites, it was these types of websites that were mostly affected by the update. Many websites appeared to lose their coveted positions on Google’s search results overnight, with the (unconfirmed) focus of the core algorithm update prioritising and boosting the visibility of content that could show – you guessed it – expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
The impact of E-A-T is widely debated (what it is, what it isn’t, how much influence it has), especially as Google is never explicit on what their so-called ‘ranking factors’ are.
However, in February 2020, Danny Sullivan, public Search Liaison at Google, tweeted:
Our systems aren’t looking for EAT. Our raters are using that to see if our systems are working well to show good information. There are many different signals that, if we get it right, align with what a good human EAT assessment would be.Danny Sullivan, public Search Liaison at Google
Based on this and other comments from Google, the general consensus is that E-A-T isn’t a direct ranking factor – your website doesn’t get an ‘E-A-T score’, for example.
So, why should you care about E-A-T?
Regardless of whether E-A-T is a ranking factor or not, improving the way you demonstrate your firm’s expertise, authority within your industry and why you should be trusted on your website (and across the internet) will benefit your visitors’ experience as well as your search engine visibility – two big wins.
TL;DR – The principles of E-A-T are definitely wise to follow, especially if you’re a YMYL website…
What is YMYL?
YMYL stands for ‘Your Money or Your Life’.
Think of YMYL as E-A-T’s best friend. It’s not a direct relation, but there’s definitely a strong bond between the two. In Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, a YMYL page is described as:
Some types of pages or topics could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.
Basically, YMYL is how Google describes pages that could have a negative impact on the quality of its readers’ lives, including their finances.
The guidelines go on to list what YMYL topics, including:
- News and current events: news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, technology, etc.
- Civics, government, and law: information important to maintaining an informed citizenry, such as information about voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, and legal issues.
- Shopping: information about or services related to research or purchase of goods/services, particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases online. This includes e-commerce websites.
- Health and safety: advice or information about medical issues, drugs, hospitals, emergency preparedness, how dangerous an activity is, etc.
- Groups of people: information about or claims related to groups of people, including but not limited to those grouped on the basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
- Other: there are many other topics related to big decisions or important aspects of people’s lives which thus may be considered YMYL, such as fitness and nutrition, housing information, choosing a college, finding a job, etc.
The most relevant for accountancy firms to be aware of is the following:
Finance: financial advice or information regarding investments, taxes, retirement planning, loans, banking, or insurance, particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases or transfer money online.Google Quality Rater Guidelines
From this, you can see just how important it is that accountancy firms and financial marketers are aware of YMYL. If you don’t plan and write your content with careful consideration of your reader, then your website could face the consequences of not appearing on Google for some of your most important keywords.
Optimising your website for E-A-T and YMYL
High quality content should always be key when writing on financial topics. Helpfully, Google provides an indication of what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to writing content for the financial sector in the handbook: ‘High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.’
Google also provides examples of high quality pages, and crucially, the reasons why they are deemed high quality, such as this article from The Seattle Times:
Why is it high quality?
According to the Quality Rater Guidelines, this article has a good amount of main content (that’s the article, excluding the ads and navigation) – in fact, it’s 846 words long. The author, Steve Miletich, and the publisher, The Seattle Times, also demonstrate lots of E-A-T elements both on this article and throughout the website.
For example, Steve’s contact details can be found at the end of the article, and he has an author page with links to his contributions to the paper. The Seattle Times has won numerous Pulitzer Prizes, which is detailed on its about page, and is highly regarded for its investigative journalism.
This example alone provides some helpful tips for optimising your website for E-A-T. I’ve created a checklist outlines the most important tips to follow here:
E-A-T and YMYL checklist
- Review and update old content and links regularly
- Ensure each article is fact checked before publishing
- Write for other reputable websites to raise your authority
- Create author pages on your website and include a bio on each article
- Ensure your social profiles reflect your expertise
- Encourage your clients to leave reviews and respond to negative reviews
- Create an About page for your website
- Make sure your contact details are easy to find
Review and update old content and links regularly
Before creating new content, your priority should be to go back through your articles, especially those that still receive a fair amount of traffic, and update them if the facts, regulations or advice given have changed since they were published. You can update the publish date, and make it clear in the article itself the date it was first published.
Review the external websites your content links to. Do you know them? Do you trust them? If not, consider removing those links and updating your references. Aim to link to high quality content only.
Not sure where to start? Read my guide to updating old blog posts.
Ensure each article is fact checked before publishing
Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines state that ‘high quality information pages should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive’, so make sure you fact check your content before you publish. Include links to any references you include, again aiming to only include information from reputable sources.
Write for other reputable websites to raise your authority
Find opportunities to guest post on reputable websites within your industry. This will help improve the authority of the author and your firm.
Bonus: if you can include an expert opinion from a leader in your industry on your blog, do it!
Create author pages on your website and include a bio on each article
Add a brief biography and contact details of the author of each article, either at the start or end of the piece, and make sure you reference their qualifications and job title too.
Even better, create a dedicated author page for those who contribute to your website. Many of the best performing YMYL websites have this in place, because they provide a great place to showcase the expertise of that team member, such as their years of experience, their qualifications and their professional accomplishments.
Here’s an example of this from the Sage website:
Ensure your social profiles reflect your expertise
Social media can easily get overlooked when it comes to E-A-T, but it’s best practice to review social profiles too – whether that’s the social profiles of the firm or the authors of your website articles. After all, they act as an extension of your author pages, especially if you directly link to them from your website.
Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are a good place to start. Here’s how to create a professional LinkedIn profile.
Encourage your clients to leave reviews and respond to negative reviews
Regardless of E-A-T, Google states that reviews on your Google My Business profile can help your firm get more exposure on local search results: ‘High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location’.
So, ask your clients to review you wherever you collect reviews (such as Google My Business or Trustpilot) and include these reviews on your website – this will help with the ‘trustworthiness’ aspect.
Gaining more reviews is one thing, responding to them is another. Make sure that you’re regularly checking and replying to the reviews you receive, whether they’re positive or not.
Create an About page for your website
If your firm doesn’t have an about page on your website, it’s time to create one! Just like your author pages, an about page will help demonstrate your expertise and trustworthiness. Use your about page to highlight company successes, like awards and accreditations.
Make sure your contact details are easy to find
Making sure your contact details are prominently displayed on your website is useful for E-A-T and even more useful for user experience more generally.
E-A-T and YMYL are important concepts for accountancy firms to consider when writing content. Prioritise writing blog posts that are factually accurate, written by industry experts, and are updated regularly for the best chance of getting your content ranking well on Google.
- Find the questions your audience is asking
- How to get started with content marketing in the legal sector
- How to update old blog posts and double your traffic
- How to promote your next webinar
- Google My Business for professional services
- How to improve your search engine visibility with topic clusters
Get in touch with us for more help creating valuable content for your accountancy firm’s website.