As a business owner, just the thought of search engine optimization (SEO) could be enough to drive you mad. It's easy to get lost among the masses of information out there, when all you may want is a clear set of guidelines that will guarantee results.
While Google isn’t exactly transparent about how it ranks sites in the search engine results pages (SERPs), we know some things will boost your rankings for sure. And one of those things is Google E-A-T.
In this article, we’ll explain in detail what E-A-T is. We’ll then offer some advice on how you can optimize your website for these ranking factors. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to Google E-A-T
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These are three key factors used by search algorithms to determine a page’s overall quality. The concept was first published in 2014 as a part of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG).
However, the SEO industry only began to appreciate the importance of page quality in 2019, when Google’s Medic update was released.
E-A-T was introduced to address the issue of low-quality content showing up in search results purely because of keywords. Nowadays, ranking algorithms focus on a publisher’s reputation and purpose, as well as the reliability of their content:
Many don't realize that Google has a group of real, live human beings whose sole responsibility is to evaluate web pages based on E-A-T guidelines. These team members are called “quality raters”. When a quality rater completes an evaluation, Google uses their responses to fine-tune its algorithm.
If you're wondering how Google E-A-T can help you attract more visitors, it may be useful to think about the purpose of SEO in general.
The search engine’s goal is to give users the most accurate, helpful results possible. If users who land on your page are actually looking for what you offer and are satisfied with what they find, you're more likely to rank high in Google's algorithm.
That means your page is more likely to land high up in the SERPs. The higher your page is in the SERPs, the higher your conversion rate.
How to Optimize Your Site for Google E-A-T
Now that we’ve discussed the concept of E-A-T and how it applies to you, let’s talk about how you can optimize your content for these ranking factors.
Most of what’s known about page quality optimization comes from the SQEGs. Using these guidelines, we can see precisely how the search engine displays results in the SERPs based on perceived quality. This helps us understand what we need to do to optimize existing websites.
In this section, we’ll cover what the SQEG says about expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. We’ll also explain some strategies you can implement to optimize your content for page quality algorithms.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by yet another set of optimization rules to follow, don't. Just remember that the overarching goal is quality. If you always approach content creation with quality in mind, you'll be following the E-A-T guidelines without even realizing it!
Expertise is all about the editor, writer, or organization. It focuses on how much experience they have in their field, and how qualified they are to deliver information to the public. For example, a blog post on nutrition written by a credentialed nutritionist is going to rank higher than a blog post on the same topic written by a freelance writer for a content farm.
At the same time, if a nutrition advice article is well written by a freelance writer, and the article includes links to high quality sources, that article can also earn high ranking.
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)
In the world of Google quality rating, the term Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) is super important. When presented with a page to evaluate, Google quality raters are trained to first ask two questions:
- Does this content affect the user's finances and…
- Does this content affect the user's well being (life).
If the answer to either question is yes, the rater automatically holds that page to a much higher quality standard.
Following are a few examples of content that would be considered YMYL:
- Pages asking for personal information that's vulnerable to identity theft (ID numbers, bank accounts, driver’s license, social security numbers, etc.)
- Pages used to make monetary transactions (any page where the user can buy something)
- Content presenting medical or health advice or information
- Content presenting advice on life choices (topics like parenting, buying a home or a car, etc.)
- Content presenting advice on big life issues that could affect the user's future happiness or finances (topics like legal or financial advice)
Many people don't realize that Google quality raters are even required to conduct research “off the page” if they have reason to believe expertise is in question.
As a content creator, you should always focus on providing accurate and informative content. For example, for blog posts on YMYL topics, you might consider looking for an expert to guest post if the topic isn't in your own area of expertise. If that's not possible, be sure to back up your information with links to high quality sources.
Google determines authoritativeness based on how reputable a publisher is in the eyes of other industry experts. For example, the Mayo Clinic blog is considered highly authoritative when it comes to any kind of healthcare content. And TIME.com is considered a high authority source of news content.
One of the best ways to improve your own site's authoritativeness is to build backlinks. However, it's important to ensure that links to your site are from high-authority domains. You can use a tool like Moz to check the domain authority (DA) of other websites:
Domain authority ranges from 1 to 100. Google would consider a page with a high DA to be a reputable source. Therefore, a backlink from one of these sites will have a much greater influence on your own site authority.
So the goal of an authority-building strategy should be to get as many links to your site as possible from other high-quality pages.
When evaluating whether to pursue a backlink from a website, consider the following:
|DA Score||What It Means|
|60+||Excellent – Go for it!|
|50-60||Good – Go for it!|
|40-50||Average – A safe bet|
|<40||Low – Avoid|
A website's trustworthiness is a measurement of how existing users respond to the site's content. If your audience takes action on what your content asks them to do, it shows others that you're a trusted source.
On a plumbing site, for example, the call to action (CTA) might be to request a quote. If the user converts into a customer, they'll either have a good experience with the business, or a bad one.
When users take to the internet to share their experiences, they're essentially telling Google whether or not that business can be trusted. And Google listens.
So it's a good idea to ask your loyal customers to leave reviews about your business. For instance, you could send follow-up emails after they complete an order on your site, or incentivize reviews with discounts or reward points.
Google also considers site elements when evaluating for trustworthiness. Following is a list of elements that can affect your ranking:
- Spammy design elements: Things like too many pop-ups, intrusive ads, poor layout, and poor UX affect the trustworthiness score.
- Updated content: A copyright from five years ago is a big red flag. It's a good idea to set yourself a reminder to update your copyright every January. Also, a site without regular updates and fresh content can be rated as untrustworthy.
Google E-A-T is a set of clear guidelines you can follow to improve your website’s rankings in search results. Even for experienced publishers, these guidelines hold the core concepts for how sites are ranked.
In this post, we shared some tips to help you optimize your E-A-T ranking factors:
- Expertise. As a content creator, make sure the content on your site is helpful and accurate, and that it comes from qualified sources.
- Authoritativeness. You can publicize the fact that others view you as a reliable source through the use of backlinks from high-authority sites.
- Trustworthiness. You can ask customers to tell Google that they trust you by leaving reviews.
Keep these tips in mind. And, above all else, focus on producing well-written, thoroughly researched content, and you'll be well on your way to reaching page one.
Do you have any questions about Google E-A-T? Let us know in the comments section below!