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 financial professional or marketer for an 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, Authoritiveness 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, Authoritiveness and Trustworthiness. In the past 3 years or so, this term has been popular in the SEO community as a way of explaining how Google judges websites and their content based on how they demonstrate expertise, authority and trust.

First, to provide a bit more context on E-A-T. 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 seemed that those kinds of websites were the ones 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. 

At the 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, the Google algorithms will consider a huge range of factors, including Page Quality (PQ – another acronym!). 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.’

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. 

Today, the general consensus is that E-A-T isn’t a direct ranking factor – your website doesn’t get an ‘E-A-T score’ by Google, for example – but it’s definitely wise to follow, especially if you’re a YMYL website…

So, what is YMYL and why should accountancy firms care?

YMYL means ‘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 include. 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.’

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. 

5 ways to optimise for E-A-T and YMYL

Helpfully, Google also 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.’

To optimise for E-A-T and YMYL, you should:

  1. Review and update old content when needed
  2. Add contact information and make the author’s qualifications clear
  3. Ensure each article is fact checked before publishing
  4. Also write for other reputable websites to raise your authority in the sector
  5. Encourage clients to leave reviews on your website to highlight your expertise

Your first takeaway should be to go back through your blogs, 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. 

Add the 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. Don’t forget to do this for new articles too.

Finding opportunities to guest post on reputable websites is another way to raise the authority of the author and your firm. 

Last, but not least, ask your clients to review you and include these reviews on your website – this will help with the ‘trustworthiness’ aspect. 

TL;DR: 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. 

If you’re responsible for the marketing of your accountancy firm, then you won’t want to miss our upcoming webinar at 1pm on 4th March 2021, where we’ll be talking about how to promote your firm through paid search. Our PPC team will be sharing easy ways to get started with a solid ads campaign for your accountancy firm, from researching keywords to choosing the right budget. It’s free to join, so save your place here!