E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is the short form Google uses when creating guidelines for evaluating the quality of searches.
Experts who manually review the purpose of webpages rely on this ranking factor. Google trains its algorithms using machine learning and tweaks quality ratings accordingly. The metrics are changed offline and manual reviewers judge quality content by comparing it to what is live at the moment.
If an improvement is significant enough, it is rolled out and we get updates at the time.
The guidelines help experts understand what high-quality content looks like.
Through these guidelines, modelling the best set of results becomes easy since the algorithm pushes these pages to the top. But, this is not the same as how Google ranks pages. There, high-quality content gets ranked automatically, while here quality raters do the task manually.
So, let us dive into the details without further delay.
What is E-A-T?
Google attempts to prevent people from gaming their system. Instead of low-quality content, they turn the focus to useful content. Companies, websites, and content creators come under this purview.
Google tries to make web content improved for human users by placing emphasis on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Not only does it drive a nail in the coffin for those creating spam content, but E-A-T also rewards platforms whose content embodies the concept of “high-quality”.
Now, site owners can demonstrate their expertise, authority, and trustworthiness by following these guidelines.
Google can also rank the right pages and people get search results that actually answer queries. Though it constantly makes small changes to Google’s search quality algorithm, E-A-T isn’t one single update.
It is a process of continuous refinement so page quality is maintained all the time.
This particular ranking factor affects every site on the internet. Even companies redesign their pages to provide high-quality information.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor? Not if you mean there’s some technical thing like with speed that we can measure directly.— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) October 11, 2019
We do use a variety of signals as a proxy to tell if content seems to match E-A-T as humans would assess it.
In that regard, yeah, it’s a ranking factor.
This drive towards perfection is why Google’s E-A-T score is so important.
What are E-A-T Updates?
E-A-T first received mention in some observant blogs around 2013. Google first mentioned YMYL pages in their guidebooks in March 2013, but most SEO expertise sites missed this. When the 2014 version came out, pages began to give more importance to trustworthiness and expertise.
In July 2018, these guidelines went through another update with an added focus on beneficial purpose and reputation of creators. Then, in August 2018 Google came out with the medic update, cementing the need for proper content.
What is E-A-T Score?
It introduces numerous interlinked concepts and algorithm changes that affect how Google wants to rank sites. There are some overlaps in the topics mentioned below.
What is SEO Expertise?
Organizations should be capable and knowledgable. Content marketers and creators must display expertise in the concerned subject matter. They should avoid spreading misinformation deliberately or otherwise.
Both unsubstantiated claims and those without relevant citations fall under the low quality of content. Thus, people should avoid these.
If the author is an expert on the topic, then they should display credentials before creating content. It doesn’t always have to be formal education. Experience also counts while judging the ability of a content creator.
The content should always answer the user’s questions while displaying a high level of knowledge and tapping into what information people demand.
What is SEO Authority?
Google tries to see if people within an industry hold certain websites in high regard. In that case, authors are also respected for their ability and opinions.
The best way is to ensure that MC or main content on a page is relevant to the site at large, and is in line with the purpose of the page. This provides authority on a topic.
On-page SEO is as important as off-page SEO here, which an author might achieve by creating backlinks. Normally, opinions should fit a wide consensus, or these topics must have a suitable backup if they go against the norm.
If an author is named and their writing has appeared elsewhere then their content is likely to rank well. Google’s algorithm adds a greater degree of trust to a site if it includes numerous citations from authoritative sources.
Organizations should ideally have associations with reputed publications and if the author has their opinion cited elsewhere, it inspires a greater amount of trust.
What is SEO Trust?
Google doesn’t want to send users to a site where they’ll get scammed. Hence, page quality is vital. Google tries to determine that all results display expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness so people’s needs are met swiftly.
When users begin to trust websites, they have a sense of security that the organizations are who they say they are. Having content on About Us pages or author biographies are important steps in inspiring belief. Embedding Google Maps with directions to the office premises is also a great move for sites because people know they’re dealing with a real entity.
Information about customer service should clearly outline transactional processes, privacy and return policies. Thus, prospective clients know they have recourse.
Having social following buttons is also helpful because users can reach out on social media sites, to provide feedback about these organizations.
Apart from having HTTPS connections while making payments, companies can display gateway logos to assure people their money is safe.
Displaying reviews and ratings helps others understand how interactive their experiences have been. Similarly, if you have accolades and awards, it is important to mention them to show how much recognition you’ve received.
Basically, add everything that reduces doubts and increases the trust buyers put into your website.
What is SEO Reputation?
Although it is not a part of the official acronym about expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, reputation is essential for high quality. Thus quality raters, as well as content creators take it seriously.
It goes beyond ordinary search quality to check mentions and reviews in other parts of the internet. Creators benefit from these rater guidelines.
If their works are positively mentioned elsewhere, the main content they’ve created for sites is favoured more by Google.
Impact of E-A-T on SERPs
E-A-T ensures expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness in content and websites. Tweaks related to this algorithm is suggested by human quality raters. They sift through numerous sites and review them as per Google’s quality rater guidelines.
Image Credit: Search Metrics
Though they can’t directly influence how main content ranks, their reviews are cross-referenced with SERPs (search engine result pages) so that important information holds higher ranks. Google makes numerous updates based on this feedback. Special emphasis goes to YMYL (your money or your life) pages.
Quality Rater Guidelines
We’ve spoken about QRGs extensively, but here we go into the details of these guidelines. They’re intended to assist those with authority to manually review sites.
These feedbacks help evaluate how effective Google’s algorithm is. It provides excellent insight into what decisions guide the performance of the Google search engine algorithm. It confirms vital information and topics that Google feels important enough for raters to consider.
Pages are broken down into lowest, low, medium, high and highest qualities. Google tries to get great quality of content on pages to rank.
Raters have to consider different factors like the purpose of websites and the score of the content. They also factor in the amount and quality of content.
Information and reputation about the creator of this content also play an important role. However, no system is perfect and the guidelines sometimes don’t mention certain factors like keyword research that are essential influences on SEO.
YMYL or Your Money Or Your Life refers to sites that can have negative impacts on happiness, health, financial stability and safety for users if their expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness aren’t up to the mark.
Typically, a YMYL site includes a broad umbrella that has things like the following.
- Websites where money exchanges hand through purchases, payments and transfers.
- Any website with a medic update, that is medical advice and information about illnesses.
- A website that provides legal advice, like providing recourse, creating wills, and having custody information.
- A page that contributes to how much people know, including blogs and newspapers.
- Any website that provides financial advice for a beneficial purpose, either savings or investments.
However, this list isn’t exhaustive. You can get content about politics, vehicle safety, and vital information about schedules on YMYL sites.
What are Trust Signals?
Since Google can’t always verify if some information serves a beneficial purpose, it looks at users and organizations who vouch for the truth in included topics.
Just as links from reputable websites improve the quality of information on your page, similarly, having your site mentioned by other trustworthy organizations for different topics also increases Google’s faith.
How to Improve E-A-T Score?
There are several steps you can follow to boost E-A-T scores. A site can also demonstrate their score to Google in a better manner through these methods.
There are several resources online for doing this, however, you’ll find these helpful:
- E-A-T and SEO, from Marie Haynes
- Google Updates Quality Rater Guidelines Targeting E-A-T, Page Quality & Interstitials, from Jennifer Slegg
- Leveraging E-A-T for SEO Success, presentation from Lily Ray
- Google’s Core Algorithm Updates and The Power of User Studies: How Real Feedback From Real People Can Help Site Owners Surface Website Quality Problems (And More), Glenn Gabe
- Why E-A-T & Core Updates Will Change Your Content Approach, from Fajr Muhammad
1. Building More Links
Though Google’s guidelines don’t explicitly mention it, a site can improve E-A-T by increasing mentions and links on other authoritative domains.
Google also has a great understanding of which linkbacks count, so a page should prioritise better quality links over lower quality ones.
I asked Gary about E-A-T. He said it’s largely based on links and mentions on authoritative sites. i.e. if the Washington post mentions you, that’s good.— Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) February 21, 2018
He recommended reading the sections in the QRG on E-A-T as it outlines things well.@methode#Pubcon
2. Update Content
For YMYL topics like medical and financial advice, it is vital to update content regularly to maintain a good E-A-T score. Information should also come from trusted and verifiable sources only.
Writers should cover topics in a professional manner, and they have to be regularly edited, updated, and reviewed.
While QGRs don’t specifically talk about non-YMYL topics, it is still best to keep your page updated to ensure reader satisfaction.
3. Checking Facts
Google is particular in maintaining that a page must have factually accurate information to get a high score. This becomes specifically relevant for scientific research.
Although there’s no clear pathway for fact-checking, you should match your page content against reputable sources like Wikipedia and Wikidata. Further, provide citations wherever necessary. Users prefer when YMYL topics have adequately verifiable sources.
4. Getting More Reviews
Online reviews for your page serve a beneficial purpose because it speaks to authority and trust. Sometimes a website might focus only on a particular review platform. But, it is best to update content and aim for positive reviews across the board. Try to rank highly on a page that users follow in a particular industry.
5. Hiring Experts
All industries have experts and it is best to hire them, especially if you cover YMYL topics. For non-YMYL matters, it is not as important to hire experts. Instead, opt for those who have great track records, or have a reputation for creating good content.
If you’re not in a position to hire an expert, interview them or have them write guest posts for your website.
6. Flashing Credentials
If you’re demonstrating E-A-T to Google, it becomes necessary to brag. If you have degrees or have spoken at numerous conferences, put out this information. You can either do this in the bio or in the About Us section of your website.
Some creators opt for a schema markup to present this information in a better manner as well.
7. Sharing Contact Details
Businesses must provide adequate contact information and customer support to avoid looking untrustworthy.
YMYL pages have to take special note of this. Google prefers a website that showcases email address, phone numbers, and different points of contact.
If you’re a solo blogger then these rules won’t apply to your website. But, greater transparency curries more favour during a search.
8. Getting Wikipedia Pages
According to Google, getting a Wikipedia page is a sure way of proving your quality. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for a website to get its own Wikipedia page. Usually, you’d have to be absolute experts in the area and enjoy coverage in numerous reputable sources.
The next best alternative is to try and get mentioned in a Wikipedia article. This significantly helps in SEO but happens to be tough as well.
You can edit Wikipedia pages to include your organization but the website doesn’t support self-promotional content. However, if you feel you’ve genuinely got something worth contributing, do take the shot.
9. Getting More Mentions
When users search for something, they put faith in a website that has more mentions. Google takes note of this and ranks them higher too.
Raters take this into account while assessing reputation. For example, getting mentioned in SEO journals shows expertise in that domain.
Since a degree of authority is first needed to get mentions, it is best to put out unique data and insights for references. If you update the materials regularly, others are bound to mention you for latest topics.
Characteristics Of High Quality And Low-Quality Pages
A high-quality page should display characteristics like great trustworthiness. Content should come with helpful titles and should be informative.
There must also be adequate information about the website. Users who conduct a search must be sure of its reputation.
Low-quality pages don’t display authoritative content. Quality and quantity are both poor and there isn’t enough information about the site either. If an extensive search turns up poor reviews, then it is another nail in the coffin.
Since following these guidelines are vital for your SEO, sites tend to improve these constantly. It is even more evident for YMYL topics.
You can either do this by hiring experts, having values, and caring about customers. Alternately, demonstrate values to Google.
Improving SEO is simple, but needs some time and effort. Despite following all these steps, you might not rank.
It’s best not to be discouraged by this because Google will rightly rank sites that have more authoritative content or enjoy more reputation than you do.
While improving expertise will surely give you an edge, you have to constantly keep in touch with updates because the rules change very frequently.