E-A-T and Its Important Role in Search Engine Marketing
It wasn’t too long ago when E-A-T became a hot buzzword and from then on, it has been talked about in hundreds of articles about SEO. Make sure you get the help of an organic SEO company to help you improve your efforts further!
Table of Contents
1. E-A-T: A Quick Definition
2. The Need for E-A-T
3. Evaluating E-A-T
4. Is E-A-T Used as a Factor for Ranking?
5. Do E-A-T Websites Have a Score?
6. Ways to Demonstrate and Improve E-A-T
E-A-T: A Quick Definition
E-A-T means Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This comes from the Search Quality Rater Guidelines of Google. Human quality raters use this 168-page document to assess the quality of search results in Google.
This document was published only by Google back in 2013 as a means of helping webmasters have a better understanding of what Google really looks for in web pages.
The Need for E-A-T
E-A-T is essential for every query but more important for some than others. For instance, E-A-T is not that important if you are only looking for photos of cute dogs. This is a subjective topic and it doesn’t matter if the dog you see doesn’t look cute for you.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the right dosage of medicine for your high blood pressure, there is no doubt that E-A-T is critical. If Google surfaces content on the topic written by someone who has no idea about the topic and publishes it on an unreliable site with no authority, there is a high chance that the content will be misleading or worse, inaccurate. And considering the nature of the kind of information needed here, this is not only mildly convenient as it can also be life-threatening.
E-A-T is equally crucial for queries like improving credit score. Any advice from someone with no authority and is clueless about the topic can never be trusted much less considered legit.
Such topics are what Google considers as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) topics. There are also topics or page types that can potential after the future health, safety, financial stability, and happiness. Websites built around these YMYL topics need to demonstrate E-A-T.
The concepts of trustworthiness, authoritativeness, and expertise are similar but not identical. This is why evaluating them is done independently with the use of a unique set of criteria.
Expertise refers to a high level of skill or knowledge in a certain field. This is mainly evaluated at content-level instead of organizational or website level. Google looks for content made by subject matter experts.
It is all about formal expertise, education, and qualifications of the creator of the content. Formal expertise is essential for YMYL topics like legal, financial, or medical advice. For non-YMYL, it is about showing everyday expertise and relevant life experience.
Reputation is what matters with authority, especially among other industry influencers and experts. This means that when people see a website or individual as their go-to source of information regarding a topic, this is considered authority.
Authority is evaluated when raters search online for insights into the individual or website’s reputation. Reputation research can be used to learn what experts and real users think about a site. Search for recommendations, references, and reviews by news articles, experts, and other reliable information written or made by individuals about the site. Raters are advised to search for independent sources as they do this.
When looking for reputation information, it is best to find sources not created or written by the individual, the website, or the company itself. Google mentions Wikipedia as one good source of information.
When you speak of trust, it is all about the accuracy, transparency, and legitimacy of a site and its content.
Raters search for several things for evaluating trustworthiness such as if the site states the person who is in charge of the published content. It is especially crucial for YMYL queries and is also applicable for non-YMYL ones.
YMYL sites require a high level of trust so in general, they need satisfying details on who has the responsibility for the site’s content.
It is also important to have adequate contact information, particularly for online stores and YMYL topics.
If a financial transaction site or store only got a physical address and email address, it might be hard to get assistance when problems arise during the transaction. Similarly, most other types of YMYL sites also need a higher degree of trust among the users.
Raters also consider content accuracy. For information pages and news articles, high quality MC should be factually accurate for the subject with support from expert consensus if consensus exists.
One part of this is citing trustworthy sources.
Is E-A-T Used as a Factor for Ranking?
Yes, E-A-T is kind of used as ranking factor, at least based on the Public Liaison of Search of Google.
Why is that so? For something to be considered as ranking factor, this must be tangible that can be understood and evaluated by a computer.
The only issue with E-A-T is that despite being desirable content qualities, these are still human concepts. Computers cannot be told to give higher ranks to E-A-T pages because machines only understand bytes and bits.
Google solves this problem through the following:
- Search engineers come up with algorithm changes that can improve the quality of search result.
- They present search results to Quality Raters without or with the recommended tweak implemented. Their task is providing feedback to Google and the set of results are not identified.
- Google uses this feedback to determine if the suggested change had a negative or positive effect on search results. The change will be implemented if there are positive results.
Through this process, Google engineers can understand tangible signals aligned with E-A-T and amend the ranking algorithms as needed.
Do E-A-T Websites Have a Score?
The simple answer is no and this is obvious if you understand the way E-A-T is evaluated by Google as well as the Quality Rates’ role.
Google doesn’t give websites an E-A-T score.
However, there are things you can do to improve your E-A-T in the eyes of the Quality Raters.
Ways to Demonstrate and Improve E-A-T
Before anything else, you have to remember that improving and demonstrating E-A-T are two completely different things.
E-A-T can never be demonstrated if you don’t even have it in the first place and this is also the first problem you need to overcome.
The absence of E-A-T is believed to be the reason why there were a lot of YMYL sites that dropped back in August 2018 during Google’s infamous medic update.
Since most of the sites didn’t even have E-A-T, traffic dropped after the rolling out of the core update, improving the ability of Google to detect E-A-T using algorithms.
If your site was one of those sites or you simply want to keep things safe for the future, it is a wise move to make an effort to better demonstrate and improve your E-A-T to Google.
Below are a few ways that you can do:
1. Create more links
While links weren’t mentioned in Search Quality Rater Guidelines of Google, E-A-T is mainly based on mentions and links from authoritative websites. Google is also quite good when it comes to understanding the links that really count so be sure that you prioritize the creation of high quality links instead of low quality ones.
2. Update your content
If you are covering YMYL topics such as financial or medical advice, it is crucial to keep your content updated to help you demonstrate E-A-T.
High E-A-T legal, financial, or tax advice must come from reliable sources and should be updated and maintained on a regular basis.
High E-A-T medical information or advice must be produced or written in professional manner and regularly reviewed, updated, and edited.
As for non-YMYL topics, it is still believed to be important. Pages can never be seen as trustworthy if these contain outdated information that can mislead readers.
3. Check the facts
The Quality Rater Guidelines of Google state that news articles must contain accurate facts to show a high E-A-T level.
High E-A-T news articles must be created with a journalistic professionalism that contains content that is factually accurate.
This also applies for scientific content as it must be factually accurate and aligned with the scientific community‘s consensus.
Information pages with high E-A-T must be made by organizations or people with suitable scientific expertise. These must also represent properly recognized scientific consensus on concerns with existing consensus. This is also important for other topics so it is important to always fact-check content and cite legit resources.
4. Acquire more reviews
Quality Raters are instructed by Google to use online reviews as the source of information on the reputation of businesses in relation to authority and trust.
There are a lot of sources of reviews and reputation information for businesses. You can look for specific websites to find these reviews.
Many people tend to overlook it and just oversimplify things through focusing on a single review website, specifically Better Business Bureau.
Unfortunately, the use of BBB reviews as ranking factor is almost debunked. It is best instead to focus on acquiring more positive reviews online, on websites that matter, and across the board.
5. Work with the experts
All industries have experts so it would be great if you can hire them for writing for your website. It is almost a mandatory requirement for websites that cover YMYL topics. It is essential to have formal expertise for YMYL topics like financial, legal, or medical advice.
However, it is not necessary to hire people with formal expertise for non-YMYL topics. You can instead hire those who have proven industry track record or those known to create high quality content tackling the topic. Meanwhile, expertise can be less formal for subjects like humor or recipes.
6. Showcase your credentials
Bragging is not something that most people like but it is a must to demonstrate E-A-T to Google. Let Google and the rest of the world know about your PhD, the prestigious industry awards you own, and how you were invited as speaker at renowned industry conferences.
Obviously, your author bio and Team or About page are the most obvious places where you can do this. Take note that the purpose of this is demonstrating your E-A-T to Google so avoid embellishing or exaggerating the truth.
7. Provide contact information
Businesses that don’t give visitors enough customer support and contact details might be seen as untrustworthy, particularly for YMYL pages.
Sites with YMYL pages like online banks are expected to have lots of information regarding the website such as complete customer service information. Users will need a way to get help or ask questions if problems occur.
Legit businesses must at least provide their address, email address, point of contact, and phone number.
8. Get a page in Wikipedia
QRG often mentions Wikipedia and Quality Raters have been instructed to check the encyclopedia when assessing reputation.
Wikipedia and news articles will help you learn more about a company and might include details related to reputation like awards and recognition and even issues or controversies.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to get a Wikipedia page or get cited on existing Wikipedia pages. But this is s till worth a try for those with genuinely useful resources that can add value to a certain Wikipedia article.
9. Acquire more mentions
You can further boost your authority with the help of mentions on famous industry sites, assuming that these mentions are positive. Quality Raters are instructed to search for these during the assessment of the reputation of the author and website.
Look for references, reviews, news articles, recommendations by the experts as well as other credible information written or created by individuals regarding the site.
While mentions can increase authority, you also need authority for you to get these mentions. There are two things that can be done in this case. First, you can publish unique data and insights that can be used as reference by others in the industry. Second is using services to connect with reliable journalists.