Google's YMYL Filter: Why is It Imposed and How to Pass It?

For the first time the YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) filters appeared in August 2018 after the Google Medic Update. In this article we'll talk about this filter, how to avoid it and whether it is possible to pass it; we will also outline the main recommendations for your site to successfully pass the filter and how long Google will take to restore your traffic.

Reasons for the Imposition of the YMYL Filter 

The YMYL filter is imposed on those site types that could not confirm their expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. 

How It Works

Google uses raters to go through sites and assess how much certain content or a resource meets its requirements. Mainly they go through sites on certain topics. The first to fall into this category a couple of years ago were sites related to the field of medicine, then it affected a number of other topics. Now the YMYL pages can include legal and many commercial sites — which means that the list is constantly expanding.  

What Does EAT Mean? 

The EAT acronym (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) is basically an expert assessment. Maybe nowadays Google tries to detect this automatically, but most likely it is still being checked manually. Although they are trying to teach algorithms based on "manual" assessments, so far the inclusion into the category occurs based on the results of assessments conducted by several raters. 

What Gets Rated?

Google evaluates two key elements 

  • the reliability and authoritativeness of an outlet (that is, your website) on which a certain material (an article) is posted; 
  • How authoritative is the author who wrote this article (material). 

For example, your medical clinic has a website. It has a page about teeth whitening with a big article about how your clinic is the place for teeth whitening. It also features tips on how to whiten teeth, which toothpastes to use, that you have to visit your dentist and so on. Let's say this site was created quite recently, no one really knows about your organization and it's unclear who wrote this article.

Google's raters (and subsequently the algorithm) see that there is no particular reason to trust either your site or the author of the article, who may have been just a cheap copywriter from some exchange. Therefore, the possibility of this article being of rather low value is quite high. Especially if you give advice on how to treat a particular disease ( especially if the disease is serious). 

How to Pass the Filter or Avoid It Entirely

In order to avoid problems for your site, you need to increase the credibility and reliability of both the authors of your articles and your site as a whole. Here’s what you should do. 

1. You must ensure that your site is cited in various authoritative sources. 

For example, having your CEO interviewed by a news channel. There should be some record of public activity like speeches, specialized seminars, company employees should speak on your topic at conferences, and so on. Those representing your company must try to often be in the spotlight, write scientific articles in various journals and the like.

2. The employees of your company (for example, the doctors working in the clinic) should raise their profile just as an individual expert who writes articles for your site.

Let's look at a medical organization as an example. Later you can apply this to your area of activity. In most areas of business this is either already a requirement, or soon will become one. 

First, your staff should have an expert, a doctor who writes content for your site. And at the bottom of your articles, or maybe even at the top, anyone reading it should be able to know who this doctor is (it should have their name and qualifications), their photo and a link to their profile on the same site. In this profile they should specify their education, diplomas, certificates, licenses, experience and place of occupation, they also should include patient reviews, and so on — basically, you should include everything that emphasizes their expertise. 

In addition, their medical expertise should be emphasized not only on your site but on others as well: it should be published and quoted somewhere else (meaning mentions on other sites that this doctor, a specialist in their field provided a comment, answer, or gave an interview).

Such measures will increase the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of both the publication and all the articles written by your expert. 

In other words, it is not enough to simply buy an article from a copywriter. You either need a real expert or you need to imitate one. To achieve this, try to follow the advice above. See for yourself if you are ready to imitate it, but nevertheless, even if you can't afford real experts, this article should look legitimate: written by a cited author, published in a cited outlet, etc. 

For example, product review sites designed for the US also fall into the YMYL category. It is necessary to raise the profile of authors there as well by making pages on social media, maintaining regular activity on said media, and during outreach (an agreement with other outlets on the publication of an article), the articles should have their names on them, etc. This allows you to pass the YMYL filter or completely avoid being affected by it. 

It is quite difficult to meet YMYL’s requirements, so you need to invest a lot of effort and involve real experts.

You can also use the following tricks: 

  • An approval — the article is written by a copywriter, but you hire an expert who checks the article, and at the bottom you sign that it's approved by experts, while placing the same information about them regarding their personal info, qualifications, a link to their page and so on. In other words, this article will be approved by an authoritative source; 
  • You can also use indirect methods, like using a lot of references and quotes from experts in an article by an insufficiently qualified author. Meaning you can interview real experts and put their quotes in your article. 

The latter option is intermediate and, as a rule, insufficient. It can also be used in those articles where you cannot put the signature of a famous author. In general, if you want articles to rank well, most of them should be authored by real people and increase the credibility of your publication and authors. 

How Long Google Will Take to Restore Your Traffic 

Even after completing all the steps described above, do not stop citing, popularizing, and raising the credibility of your authors and the site where you publish their content. Usually, after everything is fixed, the traffic is restored after a couple of Google updates. Sometimes it happens by the next update, but mostly it’s by the one after that. 

At the moment (January 2021), the last Core Update was in December 2020, the ones before it were in May 2020 and sometime in late 2019. And in December 2021, most of those sites that did not pass the YMYL evaluation in December 2020, including a very small portion of those that came out in May, recovered their traffic. 

Basically, it takes about a year. As a rule, updates occur once every six months on average, and most likely, you’ll see a complete recovery a year after you’ve made all the corrections.