Google aims to keep enhancing their user’s search experience, and this is why they keep coming up with updates quite frequently.
For those who don’t know, they have employed 10,000 people, known as human raters, who test the quality of search results all day long.
If you have been doing SEO for a long time, you already must be aware of the concept of Authority, Relevance, and Trust.
It has served as a ranking factor for a long time.
But things got upgraded in 2018 when Google didn’t only look for the quality of the web pages or sites anymore. They now want to assess the expertise of content creators too.
That’s how the concept of E-A-T was developed.
What is Google EAT?
E‑A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is used to assess the quality of a page as well as content creators so that it can reward them with better rankings.
Consequently, sites that create low-quality content get less visibility.
Let’s look at these factors individually.
Google doesn’t want to deliberately mislead users to sites that display incorrect information.
They believe that certain subject matters require formal expertise, particularly in YMYL topics such as medical, financial, or legal advice (more on YMYL later!).
For instance, a lawyer would be more qualified to talk about law matters than anybody else.
However, Google is also fine with something called ‘everyday expertise.’ Here’s what they have to say —
“Some topics require less formal expertise. Many people write extremely detailed, helpful reviews of products or restaurants. Many people share tips and life experiences on forums, blogs, etc. These ordinary people may be considered experts in topics where they have life experience. If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an ‘expert’ on the topic, we will value this ‘everyday expertise’ and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having ‘formal’ education or training in the field.”
People come to your website to find correct, relevant, and important information.
As long as you possess subject matter expertise and do your fact-checking, you are in the good books of Google.
Here’s an example of a good author profile given by Google quality evaluators in the guidelines.
Authoritativeness refers to the reputation of the website, content creator, and the content itself.
When other websites recognize your expertise and try to link to you, you establish some sort of authority.
This authority can be depicted in different forms, such as getting mentioned in news platforms, your content getting shared, and more.
For example, Google considers the following page as highly authoritative.
The page contains detailed information about the restaurant itself — when the restaurant opened, what visitors can expect, contact information, etc.
If you want people to trust you, you need to have a positive reputation online.
Trustworthiness is about bringing transparency and accuracy to your content and website.
One legit example that shows trustworthiness as per Google —
‘According to Wikipedia, the Cleveland Clinic “is currently regarded as one of the top 4 hospitals in the United States as rated by U.S. News & World Report,” which you will also find in the article on the best hospitals in the U.S. Users can trust medical information on this website.’
This is positive relevant information, and so it helps establish trust.
Why is it important for SEO?
In August 2018, Google released a major algorithm update, and since then, there has been constant talk about Google’s “E-A-T.”
There has been quite a debate as to whether or not E-A-T plays an important role in SEO.
In fact, Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison of search, dismissed it as a broad topic and said there was nothing specific to fix.
Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content. Yeah, the same boring answer. But if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines. That’s like almost 200 pages of things to consider: https://t.co/pO3AHxFVrV
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) August 1, 2018
Despite that, it seemed like medical websites were disproportionately affected.
Here’s an example of health websites — healthline.com and draxe.com, which saw a drastic change in their SEO visibility in just a matter of two weeks.
However, Danny did hint about creating better content — as per their Quality Rater’s Guideline.
We all know that Google has always valued high-quality content. Prior to this, no one paid attention to E-A-T.
There is a clear relationship between high-quality content and what appears in search results.
Thus, it’s safe to say that E-A-T has a substantial role to play in your SEO strategy and is a way to gain better rankings in general.
The Relationship Between E-A-T and “Your Money or Your Life”
If you go through their 168-page Search Quality Rater’s Guideline, it largely talks about E-A-T and YMYL (Your Money or Your Life).
Google thinks that some topics can broadly impact a person’s future happiness, financial stability, and health safety.
They call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” or YMYL pages.
Let’s say you have to search for a cute baby picture.
The topic is subjective here, and the idea of cuteness will vary from person to person.
However, when it comes to specific topics like medical, legal matters, finance, and more, search results need to be of high quality, authoritative, and trustworthy.
For instance, if you want to know about voting or government agencies, E-A-T is highly essential here.
Google can’t afford to display results that might lead its user to untrusty websites that lack expertise and misleading information.
Here is the list of topics that Google considers as YMYL —
If you are building your content around YMYC, then building E-A-T is essential.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor?
You will find mixed results on Google.
Some claim that E-A-T isn’t a ranking factor, whereas some are of the opinion that it is a significant ranking signal.
So what exactly is the truth here?
Let us look at this tweet first.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor? Not if you mean there’s some technical thing like with speed that we can measure directly.
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.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) October 11, 2019
It clearly states that the concept of E-A-T uses a variety of signals that would indeed improve page quality.
But it is only as perceived by human quality raters. There has never been any algorithm that can measure E-A-T.
That being said, Google’s algorithm does use signals that correlate with trustworthiness and authoritativeness.
And the best-known signal is PageRank — which uses backlinks to identify the page authority.
As we all know, backlinks aren’t a new concept. SEO experts have been working with even before there was any hint of E-A-T.
In fact, John Mueller once confirmed:
“I wouldn’t look at the Quality Rater Guidelines as something that is like our algorithms are looking at explicitly, checking out the reputation of the authors and then using that to rank your websites.”
So, in short, there is nothing new to account for as long as you are already working towards building quality links for your web pages or sites.
How to improve E-A-T for SEO?
Even though E-A-T may not be a direct ranking signal, it can still help establish authoritativeness above other websites.
Here are a few ways you can optimize your website for E-A-T —
1. Audit your brand
Check for your brand reputation online.
Find out what people are talking about your brand — whether they had a happy experience and what they didn’t like about your product or/and service.
Having a strong ‘Home’ and ‘About Us’ page can also put you in a good position.
Google gives preferences to those sites that display complete details about their business — their contact details, their offerings, their mission and vision, and other related information.
2. Tell in detail about you and your team
It’s a good idea to promote your people.
That way, users know who they are dealing with, and it helps establish a form of trust.
Make it easy for them to get in touch with your or someone from your company.
Besides, understanding who is responsible for the content or website is a critical part of assessing E-A-T.
That’s why the page content must be created by trusted experts, particularly in YMYL topics.
Include the author’s name and biographies for all editorial content. It will help serve your purpose.
3. Show contact details
There could be many reasons why a customer or usual visitor would want to contact your website — reporting problems, making inquiries, and more.
If you fail to provide sufficient contact information, it can negatively impact your website reputation.
Besides, if you have a website that deals with money, such as banks, stores, or credit card organizations, it’s crucial that you display both your contact information and customer service information.
Similarly, websites like humour sites require fewer details as compared to online banking companies.
But what if you have a personal website?
Well, Google understands the need to safeguard your personal contact information, such as your home address or phone number.
In such cases, they aren’t going to penalize you for not displaying your home address.
4. Audit your existing content
Google clearly highlights in Quality Raters Guidelines that if you are covering YMYL topics such as finance or medical advice, the content needs to be maintained and updated regularly.
Besides, medical advice topics should be written by organizations or people with appropriate expertise.
You should know that low E-A-T content on one page doesn’t directly impact the E-A-T of other pages.
However, it can still negatively impact your site’s overall reputation.
So whether you belong to the YMYL category or not, it’s not worth taking risks.
Moreover, you don’t want to mislead your users, do you?
5. Build a framework for content creation
You need to remember that Google has a complete guide laid down on how they categorize pages as high-quality, highest-quality, low-quality, and lowest-quality, based on various E-A-T metrics.
Whether you are creating content yourself or having a staff member doing it, make sure that everyone follows a framework that works in favour of E-A-T.
Even though Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines mention nothing about the link, E‑A-T had a direct correlation with links and mentions from authoritative sites.
Here is an excerpt from a whitepaper on How Google Fights Disinformation:
That says it all.
7. Get more reviews/mentions
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines tell their team to look for reviews and discussions about the websites from reputable sources.
Customer reviews can be quite useful in assessing the reputation of a store or business.
But they are also of the notion that the content of the reviews matter, not just the number.
So even if you have a few reviews but positive ones, you are on the safe side.
Besides, they look for reviews across the sites that matter.
For instance, for hotel reviews, they will look at makemytrip.com — a reputable website in the hotelier industry.
Clearly, E-A-T is vital for SEO.
Besides, if you study the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in detail, most E-A-T optimization tips are actually good for your business in general.
If you adhere to the E-A-T advice, Google is more likely to send traffic your way.