Boosting SEO with YMYL for scholarly publishers

Ensuring your YMYL pages have high-quality content is good for your reputation and your rankings  

Google weighs hundreds of factors in calculating website and page rankings, but it is increasingly focused on content quality. And ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) content is where quality matters most. YMYL content has information in it that, if presented incorrectly, untruthfully or deceptively, can significantly impact the reader’s health, happiness, safety or financial stability. Not surprisingly, much scholarly and science publishing content may be categorised as YMYL. 

Content quality and evolving SEO best practices 

SEO in 2022 means Google no longer rewards low-quality catch-all content that happens to mention a term frequently enough. Just as every paragraph in a scientific paper should serve a purpose, every page of a website should have focus and benefit for the visitor. This purpose can range from offering entertainment to providing health advice. Search engines want to direct users to the most helpful pages, looking beyond their actual search terms to analyse their intended path. If a page’s purpose is unclear or misleading, it will be penalised in search results. Google’s evaluators and algorithm look at a page’s beneficial purpose when calculating its Page Quality (PQ) score. This is particularly so for YMYL pages, and since 95% of users don’t go past page one of Google, every penalty counts.  

Google has compiled a list of potential YMYL categories or topics that include:  

  • news and current events  business, politics, science, tech, stocks  
  • civic, government and law – voting information, government agencies, social services, legal information 
  • health and safety – medical advice and information, drugs, medicines, hospitals, safety procedures  
  • other categories are areas of finance, e-commerce, claims related to people grouped based on characteristics (e.g. age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion) and areas which could impact people’s lives and wellbeing, such as nutrition, jobs, education and housing information.  

Scholarly science content operates across several YMYL categories. Climate change, the Covid-19 pandemicand the James Webb telescope, for example, keep science at the forefront of news and current affairs. Current concerns around health care and the environment tie scientific research to civic, government and legal content.  

How to optimise for higher search rankings 

When Google detects YMYL content, it picks it up and examines it closely. What does it look for? Is level of EAT – Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT), which forms the backbone of any YMYL content. Think of EAT as the three-headed guard dog Google uses to weigh up the value, risk and benefits of content to give a page its PQ score.  


Google wants to know if the content on a page is written by someone who knows what they are talking about. If you have published books and articles that are reviewed, and if you have credentials on your website, all these leave a digital footprint that Google uses to rate your expertise.  

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Google puts a lot of effort into looking at the authority that each piece of content holds:  

  • Are the page creator and the website hosting the page authoritative? 
  • Does the content agree with most authoritative sources on this subject? 
  • Does the creator have recognised authority and are they perceived as an industry/knowledge leader? 


It matters if content comes from a trustworthy author or website. Trust takes years for an individual or brand to build and seconds to lose. Google values trust highly when assessing page quality, asking:  

  • Are the creator and their content endorsed by other experts in this field? 
  • Has their work been recognised by other trustworthy organisations? 

Stay focused 

Google updates its algorithm multiple times a year to address new priorities. In response, SEO best practices are rapidly evolving and EAT and YMYL are integral to this. As a science publisher, much of your content YMYL topics, it will be examined closely by Google’s evaluators and scanning systems. Therefore, it’s crucial to get this right, your search rankings and reputation depend on it.  

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