If you’ve been paying attention to the last few rounds of Google updates and announcements, you may have noticed a huge emphasis on this concept of EEAT (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).

And within this concept of EEAT, Google repeatedly emphasizes the notion that TRUST is the most important over-arching concept when sharing information that has the potential to significantly impact someone’s life, safety, or finances. 

Health topics, including nutrition, are considered to be topics that have a significant potential for harm when misinformation and disinformation are shared. So, I wanted to talk in-depth today about how you can become a trustworthy source of health information online.

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Episode Transcript

If you’ve been paying attention to the last few rounds of Google updates and announcements, you may have noticed a huge emphasis on this concept of EEAT (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).

And within this concept of EEAT, Google repeatedly emphasizes the notion that TRUST is the most important over-arching concept when sharing information that has the potential to significantly impact someone’s life, safety, or finances. 

Health topics, including nutrition, are considered to be topics that have a significant potential for harm when misinformation and disinformation are shared. 

And in case you’re not clear on the difference – misinformation is factually incorrect information that is shared and disinformation is sharing intentionally incorrect information with the intent to mislead. 

Google actually has a branch of their business known as Google Health, which focuses on all things health-related under the Google umbrella. 

This includes things like their wearable health devices, AI technology in healthcare, and the sharing of health information on Google platforms like YouTube and Google search. 

The Google Health team holds an annual event called CheckUp to share updates on what their branch is working on and the latest one of these updates was shared in March 2023. 

I have found that a lot of people in the SEO world just kind of gloss over updates from Google Health because they don’t immediately find it applicable to search. 

But I think that is a mistake, especially for anyone who creates health related content online, which definitely includes a large portion of my audience, which is made up of many dietitians and other healthcare professionals.

So I actually took the time to watch this hour or so long conference to pick out the information that seemed relevant for us content creators in the health space and am really excited to share my takeaways with you. 

As I mentioned last week, I haven’t really seen any prominent SEOs sharing information specifically relevant to the health niche, so I am excited to kind of carve out that niche for myself and most importantly, for you! So that we can keep up to date on the latest from Google and make sure we are following best practices as soon as they become available.

So, what were some of the exciting developments Google Health talked about in March?

They started out by emphasizing the idea that people go online to look for health information. Full stop. That is just a fact. And Google’s goal is to ensure that the health information that people find when they search on Google-owned platforms is “authoritative and authentic”. 

They shared that people search for health related topics on google hundreds of millions of times per day. 

They also revealed that video is a popular avenue in which people search for health information online. In fact in 2021, health-related YouTube videos were viewed 100 BILLION times. 

So clearly, people are looking for health information in video format as well.

Google went on to talk a lot about the concept of trust. And that you can have the best information and all the best tools in the world at your disposal, but it means nothing if you do not have trust first. 

So Google’s goal is to become a trustworthy source of health information online. They talked a lot about this in the context of YouTube, since that is a platform that they own, but I also suspect that this bleeds over into regular Google search as well, which we will expand upon a bit later. 

So Google is focusing a lot on highlighting authoritative video sources of health information on YouTube, first. In fact, and I have mentioned this before on the podcast, they have recently rolled out two new features on YouTube for health related content: 

  • Health content shelves
  • Health source information panels

Health content shelves are basically highlighted search results at the top of YouTube search, identified with the label “From health sources”. 

Underneath that label, you will find a selection of a few videos on the topic you searched for that come from verified health sources. 

If you click on one of the individual videos, underneath the video there will be a health source information panel. Essentially, a blue callout box, highlighted directly underneath the video that says “From a channel with a licensed health professional” if it is from a medical organization, like a hospital or association, or “from a licensed doctor”, for example, if the content is created by a doctor.

Then there is a link you can click that says “Learn more about how health professionals are licensed and how experts define health sources”.

So I am particularly interested in the “how experts define health sources” angle of this label. 

Since we as dietitians are healthcare professionals, I think it is extremely important to understand what Google is trying to do here and make sure that we are included wherever possible and not left behind in this wave of determining who is a trustworthy source.

The goal from Google is to highlight videos from sources that they deem authoritative and to provide context in the info boxes to help users identify videos from authoritative sources. 

At this moment in time, only a handful of types of channels are eligible for this label on YouTube, which I will go into more detail on in a second. 

Google actually partnered with the National Academy of Medicine to help come up with criteria to determine which types of organizations could be deemeed authoritative sources within the US. 

Once they that had criteria nailed down, they convened again with the National Academy of Medicine, Council of Medical Specialties Society, and the World Health Organization to try and expand these concepts to organizations worldwide and also to apply to for-profit organizations and individuals. 

WOW, this is a HUGE deal and I am actually shocked that I haven’t seen anyone talking about this yet. I’m very excited to dig into it! I think this will have a huge huge impact in the coming years on the type of content that will get the most visibility on YouTube and likely also Google.

So let’s start with the first phase of analysis that Google did, coming up with criteria to define which US-based government health organizations and non-profits are considered credible sources of health information. 

They used information from a peer-reviewed article published by the National Academy of Medicine titled: Identifying Credible Sources of Health Information in Social Media: Principles and Attributes

And you can actually read these documents yourself. I will link to them in the show notes for this episode at theunconventionalrd.com. 

And essentially, what happened was, the National Academy of Medicine “convened an independent advisory group to develop principles and attributes to guide social media companies and other digital platforms in identifying and elevating credible sources of health information in their channels.”

This information was actually published in 2021 and these are the guiding principles YouTube used to determine whether US-based government health organizations and non-profits were credible sources of health information. 

Note again that at this point, we are only talking about government health organizations and non-profits, NOT for-profit organizations, non-accredited non-profits, or individuals yet. And they were only focused on US-based organizations at this point as well. 

The main point was that these organizations needed to be “science-based, objective, transparent, and accountable” in order to be deemed credible.

Now phase 2 of their research was to create guidelines for establishing the credibility of individuals, for-profit entities, non-accredited nonprofits, and organizations worldwide.

Again, this was done by a multidisciplinary advisory committee convened by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), in collaboration with the National Academy of Medicine and the World Health Organization.

They came to the same conclusions – that the sources must be science-based, objective, transparent, and accountable. They also added a new 5th factor of inclusiveness as well. 

Now here comes the fun part. 

You can actually read the draft of the consensus this team came to on how to determine whether a source meets the criteria for being science-based, objective, transparent, accountable, and inclusive. 

So these are the EXACT things that we need to be doing, whether we are representing ourselves as individuals online or whether we run larger for-profit entities, or non-profits, in order to make it clear and unequivocal that we are credible sources of health information. 

So let’s go through each criterion one by one. 

For some of the criteria, there are different benchmarks for individuals, for profit organizations, and nonprofits, so we will go over those differences when they occur as well. 

And again, our goal is to comb through these recommendations and think critically about how we can demonstrate these principles on our own websites and social media platforms so that if and when we are eligible to apply to be a credible health source on a platform like Google, we have all of our ducks in a row.

What does it mean to be “science-based”?

“Sources should provide information that is consistent with the best scientific evidence available at the time and meet standards for the creation, review, and presentation of scientific content.”

So what does this actually mean? Well, luckily, they included some benchmarks that we can use to see what science-based means in tangible terms.


  • Acknowledges the limitations and evolution of science (e.g., early or incomplete knowledge, as seen in emerging diseases; small sample size; correlation versus causation, etc.); indicates when there is debate and limited clarity.
  • Clearly labels information with the date it was last updated and strives to reassess and update content; includes attestation that this represents up-to-date information which may change over time
  • (for individuals) Discloses licensure, education, training, and scientific expertise to platform
    • (for nonprofits and forprofits) Demonstrates subject-specific expertise (i.e., consistent and well-regarded contributions in a given field); indicates original content vs repurposing from a credible source.
  • (for individuals) Links to other credible sources. 
    • (for nonprofits and forprofits) Links to and is linked to by other credible sources
  • Provides accurate citations from high quality scientific sources, including peer review and validated data sources, to justify claims
  • Synthesizes information from multiple sources, rather than a single source
  • (for nonprofits and forprofits) Uses a consensus process to develop the information shared.
  • (for nonprofits and forprofits) Uses peer review or another form of content review to vet information before sharing.

What does it mean to be “objective”?

“Sources should take steps to reduce the influence of financial and other forms of conflict of interest (COI) or bias that might compromise or be perceived to compromise the quality of the information they provide.”


  • (forprofits and individuals) Keeps health information separate from financial, political, or commercial messages.
    • (for nonprofits) Keeps health information separate from financial, political, or advocacy messages.
  • (for individuals) Maintains independence from funders
    • (for nonprofits and forprofits) Maintains independence from funders; has a policy about maintaining scientific independence
  • Separates lobbying activities from health information
  • (for individuals) Clearly identifies sponsored posts and paid partnerships in accordance with local guidelines and regulations
    • (forprofits) Clearly identifies education/information versus marketing. Does not include advertisements with related health information without disclosures (or does not host advertisements at all)
    • (nonprofits) Clearly identifies sponsored posts, paid partnerships, or advertising for fundraising purposes. Does not include advertisements with related health information without disclosures (or does not host advertisements at all) 

What does it mean to be “transparent and accountable”?

“Sources should disclose the limitations of the information they provide, as well as conflicts of interest, content errors, or procedural missteps.”


  • (for individuals) Discloses financial and nonfinancial conflicts, including revenue in accordance with local guidelines and regulations
  • (for profits) Discloses financial and nonfinancial conflicts; discloses resulting organizational revenue
  • (nonprofits) Discloses financial and nonfinancial conflicts as well as mission statements on their website
  • Discloses relevant advocacy and policy positions and lobbying activities
  • Adheres to healthcare ethics and transparency principles
  • Posts public corrections or retractions; updates are posted on a scheduled periodic basis
  • Provides a mechanism for public feedback
  • Shares data, methods, or draft recommendations. Discloses efforts made to be balanced and inclusive in development of evidence-based health information

What does it mean to be inclusive and equitable?

Sources should prioritize  inclusion of diverse, equitable, and trusted voices for health information that reflect the demographics of the audience


  • Uses accessible and culturally appropriate language for intended population
  • Avoid stigmatizing language about specific groups of people
  • Prioritize equitable access to health information
  • Contextualize and make research relevant for the intended population

Implementation of these standards

The committee, of coure, acknowledged that the implementation of these standards across all social platforms will be difficult. 

The committee actually said that they support “creating a standardized biographical statement or attestation for individual sources to use to consistently link to key attributes, such as licensure, expertise, and conflicts, across social media platforms.” 

So it will be interesting to see whether that idea materializes in the future.

The paper also mentions that “social media platforms are encouraged to collaborate with research experts to assess the impact of credible source labeling and elevation of the reach of credible sources as, ultimately, the value of the label only derives from its public validity.” 

I have a feeling that YouTube is doing just that and sharing the results of this type of labeling of health content with the committe to evaluate its effectiveness.

Applying to be a health source on YouTube

YouTube has already started a process where healthcare professionals can apply to be a source within the YouTube Health program, but at this time, dietitians are not eligible to participate. (womp womp) 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – if anyone from AND is listening right now, this would be an amazing place to try and exert some influence and get RDs recognized as formal nutrition experts on YouTube!

Accredited hospitals, academic medical institutions, public health departments, and government organizations don’t need to apply and are automatically eligible because they have already gone through rigorous vetting processes to get those labels.

So that’s why you will see channels like Mayo Clinic or the American Heart Association that already have these labels on YouTube automatically.

If you’re an individual healthcare provider who wants to apply, you have to attest to the Health Information Sharing Principles that we just discussed and must be one of the following professions:

  • Licensed Doctor (eligible to practice medicine in the relevant country)
  • Licensed Nurse / Registered Nurse (US only)
  • Licensed Psychologist or equivalent
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or equivalent
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker or equivalent

The application process is coordinated with a program called LegitScript to automatically verify your license when you apply.

You also have to:

  • follow YouTubes monetization guidelines, 
  • have more than 2k public watch hours in the last 12 months
  • OR more than 5 million shorts views in the last 90 days
  • Must primarily focus on covering health info
  • Have no active community guidelines strikes

It currently takes 1-2 months to hear back after you apply.

Acceptance is not permanent. Your channel is actively monitored and eligibility can be revoked if you go against the guidelines.

Available in the US and Germany right now

I find this so so so so interesting and applicable to any healthcare professional creating information online, be it on social media, YouTube, or on your own website.

The intentions of Google are clear – they want to elevate information coming from trustworthy, authoritative sources, but exactly how they will manage to do that is clearly still being worked out. 

But, I think it’s prudent that we, as licensed and credentialed healthcare professionals, do our best to stay ahead of these developments and work to comply with as many of the suggestions as we can. 

Creating content that aligns with what Google wants to rank and display can only help boost our reach and future-proof us in this era of change in both Google and YouTube rankings in the health niche.

So if this topic sounds interesting to you and you want to take action right away, again, I recommend enrolling in my signature course, SEO Made Simple, to learn the exact things you can do on your website to comply with these recommendations. 

I’ve broken down each applicable recommendation and demonstrated how we can apply it on our own websites. Just follow the steps I’ve outlined in the course and you will be way ahead of the game for demonstrating trust on your website.

The use of AI in health education

And finally, before we end this episode today, I also wanted to chat real quick about how AI is being utilized in the healthcare information industry, because I think this also may have future impacts on those of us who provide healthcare information online (be it on our websites, on youtube, or social media).

The main update is that Google has developed a type of AI technology called Med-PALM that is specifically designed to give authoritative answers to medical questions. 

It is NOT publicly available yet and is still in testing and development, but they are talking about it at the Google Health event, so it is safe to assume that it will likely be publicly available at some point in the future. 

And actually, quick update, in the time period that I started writing my notes for this episode and when I actually went to record it, Google announced on April 13th 2023 that they are actually opening up limited access to med-PALM-2 to a limited segment of Google Cloud users for testing and feedback.

Essentially, Med-PALM is a large language model (kind of like ChatGPT) that is specifically trained on medical Q&A datasets and is meant to answer medical questions.

The current version they are working on is called Med-PALM-2 and it was able to earn an “expert level” 85% passing score on US medical licensing test questions, both multiple choice format and open ended questions that require rationale.

This language model was trained on 7 different medical datasets:

  • MedQA, which includes thousands of multiple choice questions from US Medical Licensing Exams
  • MedMCQA, which includes more than 194,000 multiple choice questions from medical licensing exams in India
  • PubMedQA, which is a PubMed question and answering dataset built around research article titles, abstracts, and conclusions, 
  • LiveQA,  which is a dataset of 104 consumer health questions received by the U.S. National Library of Medicine
  • MedicationQA, which is a dataset of 674 real consumer questions about common medications
  • MMLU, aka the massive multitask language understanding dataset, which is also used by CHATGPT, that includes multiple choice questions on clinical topics, medicine, and biology
  • HealthSearchQA, an additional dataset created by the MedPALM developers that uses 3375 commonly searched for questions about medical conditions and associated symptoms

Google has said that they are really excited about the potential of this technology for things like answering complex medical questions, finding insights from complicated and unstructured medical texts, the ability to draft responses in healthcare and to summarize information from medical documentation, internal datasets, and bodies of scientific knowledge. 

However, they also acknowledge that there is a chance of harm with technology like this and that it needs to be carefully tested for its ability to stick to the established medical consensus, its medical reasoning, its knowledge recall, and potential biases.

They are getting feedback from clinicians and non-clincians from all around the world to try make Med-PALM something that can be actually used safely in the real world.

I don’t know about you, but I can imagine a future where perhaps this Medical Q&A tool is available to visit directly and people can get trustworthy answers to their medical questions without wanting or needing to visit Google any more… 

I have also seen people theorize that perhaps rather than waiting forever for an appointment with your primary care physician, perhaps people with certain needs can first have an AI visit with a medically trained chatbot. (The reasoning behind this was that at some point, the potential risk of the chatbot being wrong and causing harm may be less, in some scenarios, than having to wait super long for an in-person appt with a doctor.)

It’s all still very up in the air obviously, and I don’t think a change like this is coming any time soon, but I still think it’s important to keep abreast of these developments so that we aren’t caught off guard if things change. 

If we can see what may be coming, we will be better equipped to adapt our business models to thrive, no matter what the future holds.

So that’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. 

Stay tuned next week for more insights on how to tell if you have been hit by a Google Algorithm Update and what to do if you lost traffic!

Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.