What does Your Money or Your Life Websites mean in SEO?
The concept Your Money or Your Life (aka YMYL websites) is much wider than its name suggest. Although it does cover websites that promise cures for terminal illnesses it is also used in reference to all websites that promise to make your life better if you spend money with them.
This could be anything from an ebook that the author promises will make you more confident so you can get that job you have always dreamed of to the quite literal snake oil salesmen pedaling some tablet or liquid they claim will cure a certain ailment.
Some also argue YMYL also includes religious websites where the idea that eternal life is far more likely when the user donates to them or makes some sort of purchase.
So Your Money or Your Life websites are a bit more like "Give us Your Money and Your Life will be better"
Search Engines have long struggled with this because there are millions of websites and trying to sort out the genuine from the scams is a near impossible task, if not impossible altogether given scammers would be well versed in closing down one site and opening another virtually overnight.
Google's first large scale action in this area was in August 2018 (although they had been talking about it for years
) in what was known as the 'Medic Update'. Rankings in websites that referred to physical or mental ailments dropped dramatically unless the webmaster could prove they were in some way qualified to discuss the subject or licensed to sell an approved medication. Approved being by whichever official body for each country does such things.
It was a particularly blunt approach which put the onus on webmasters to prove they were clean rather than on Google to prove they were not.
However it was also an approach that was peppered with flaws. While modern medication has an important role to play corruption in the way it is controlled has long been documented whether it is to do with how the Opioid Crisis in the United States took hold or why the price of treatments can vary so dramatically from country to country.
I personally blogged my thoughts on it in Google searches for trust
The issue Google faced in the aftermath of its Medic Update is that those in search of complementary or alternative medicines will simply drift to their competitors like Bing and Yahoo where legitimate websites remain alongside the scam artists.
In the health related websites that I managed there was plenty of evidence in the Spring of 2019 that they recognized this and started to unwind the update as traffic began increasing across the board.
It was a clear sign of the limitations a search engine like Google can face when trying to provide (or some might argue, dictate) the moral compass despite their market share of online searches.
I personally believe there are many valid complementary and alternative medicines as well as plenty of snake oil and the way the current official government systems of most countries are set in place doesn't serve consumers that well. Its this exact clamp down on both good and bad that adds so much fuel to Big Pharma conspiracy theories like the Vaccine Myths.