Your Money or Your Life: Google's Updates and Your Website

You may have heard that Google is putting more and more emphasis on quality content in recent months. This past summer, Google released their updated Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines, and rolled out a "helpful content" algorithm update in August and September.  

Both updates are focused on serving up sites in Google’s search results that will be beneficial to users, while attempting to suppress sites that contain unhelpful, or sometimes even harmful, information on them.


Google's Search Quality Rater Guideline Updates

The changes to Google's search guidelines revolve around identifying sites with low-quality or dangerous content, and are mainly focused on their definitions of YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics, as well as the significance of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness).


What do these things mean?

According to Google, "Some topics have a high risk of harm because content about these topics could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society. We call these topics 'Your Money or Your Life' or YMYL."


What does that mean for your small business?

Before adding content to your site, you should ask yourself, "Could adding this content to my site cause harm or danger to anyone else?" If the answer to that question is "yes", it's probably best to avoid including it.

For most small businesses, this likely isn't a factor when adding content to your site. But, Google also shared that it weighs E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness or Trustworthiness) more heavily for sites that focus on YMYL topics, while recognizing that most content posted on the internet does not require more than personal experience, everyday expertise, and a bit of effort to make that information usable to consumers.

In other words, most small business owners don't need to be overly concerned with establishing themselves as an expert (according to Google) in order to be able to perform well in search results. You should instead focus on sharing information that inspires consumer confidence, such as helpful tips, reviews, or photos from a recent project.


Google's "Helpful Content" Algorithm Update

Similar to the changes Google made to its Quality Rater Guidelines, the goal of Google's helpful, or "people-first" content update is to bolster sites that contain information that's valuable to consumers.

On the flip side, Google is devaluing content that isn't deemed helpful. In other words, if your site publishes high amounts of content with little value, you could see your search rankings negatively impacted by this update. Unfortunately, if that's the case, Google says it will take some time after removing the harmful content from your site to see it recover in search results. 

This means that although it's important to include keywords on your site that you're looking to rank well for, that shouldn't be the entire focus of the content on your site. It's important to ensure that the content you're sharing also provides helpful information for your potential customers as well. And, again, if it’s content that could be deemed harmful in any way, it’s probably best not to post it.


What’s the bottom line?

The good news is that this update is very similar to many other updates Google has made over the past several years. If you've been staying on top of Google's best SEO practices in recent years and updating your site accordingly, you're probably already doing exactly what you need to be. 


How can Hibu help?

Here at Hibu, our Local Ranking product works with the content on your site to incorporate keywords that consumers are searching for to find the businesses and services they need when they need them. As part of our Local Ranking offering, we provide custom blog posts, which enables businesses to share helpful information and tips with potential customers, as well as voice-ready FAQs, which can provide valuable information for potential clients not only on your site, but directly within Google's search results.

Talk with us today and we’ll tell you about all the ways we work with Google to help your business grow online.

Gretchen Ast
Digital Product Manager