Has Google’s August Broad Core Algorithm Update Made Your SEO Rankings Drop?

Google SEO Rankings for Lawyers – Latest Google Update….

  • On August 1st, 2018, Google released a broad core algorithm update that seems to have had an impact on both local and organic rankings.

  • One of the functions of the update has been to demote advice pages with questionable expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in rankings.

  • YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) websites and pages seem to have been a particular focus.

You’ll no doubt have noticed, whether from reading the news or experiencing its effects yourself, that on August 1st, Google released what it’s called a ‘broad core algorithm’ update. This is the same way it referred to the updates in March and April, perhaps in an effort to move away from the irregular, major updates like Possum, Pigeon, Panda, etc. which inevitably send shockwaves throughout the SEO and content industry.

What is E-A-T in SEO?

E-A-T stands for ‘expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness’ and plays a big part in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. I’m going to assume you don’t have the time right now to read the 164-page PDF I just linked to, so I’ll summarise this for you here.

Making expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness big factors in Page Quality is Google’s way of trying to avoid negatively impacting people’s lives. By ranking sites that offer questionable advice from non-authoritative sources lower than more authoritative ones, they reduce the risk of searchers being scammed, or in more extreme cases, suffering worse physical and mental health.

For example, as Google states in its guidelines, with regard to medical sites,

“High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.”

This approach extends to news articles (something that’s particularly relevant these days), information pages, financial/legal/tax advice, home improvement sites, and even pages on hobbies such as photography or musicianship.

Qualifying a website or content creator’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, without performing deep research into authors’ experience or qualifications, is highly subjective, so it’s assumed that Googlers have a way of fairly quickly assessing these factors for millions of websites.

In this update, it would seem that websites with low E-A-T are being hit the hardest, so if you’re working with a local business with a tendency to overreach their expertise with their site content, you’ll want to look carefully at its site rankings and assess whether it’s time to find another way to highlight the worth of the site and business.

What is a YMYL website?

Another term that’s cropping up more since Google’s August core broad algorithm update is YMYL, which stands for ‘Your Money or Your Life’.

What Google calls YMYL websites are closely tied to E-A-T, as they include pages that “could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.” YMYL isn’t a statement of quality; it’s more a category of page or website that has the potential to significantly affect someone’s life, for better or for worse.

These include the following (per Google):

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages

  • Financial information pages

  • Medical information pages

  • Legal information pages

  • Legal information pages

  • News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry

  • Other (based on evaluator judgment)

I’d encourage you to take a look at page 9 of the Google Search Quality Guidelines for more details on these.


This latest algorithm update, if what we’re seeing from the community is to be believed, may well have been focused on demoting YMYL pages with low E-A-T.

Whilst this will definitely impact websites like forums with low-quality advice, it should be noted that local businesses are just as at risk (as shown by Joy and Marie above) from providing advice that doesn’t come from a place of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Google is basically saying here that you MUST create high quality content to prove your an expert, and if you do, you will be rewarded with higher rankings. That actually seems fair and is a huge reason for lawyers to have more content done. Write articles, do blog posts, create FAQs, create many videos.