A guide to Google E-A-T

Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving, shifting the best practices for search engine optimization (SEO). For example, ten years ago, uploading a five-hundred-word blog to your website may have been sufficient, but today, Google favours informative, lengthy content that will provide value to readers.

As a result, it’s essential to bear in mind E-A-T whenever you create a piece of content. E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. This article covers all you need to know regarding E-A-T and how to implement this strategy into your website content.

Why does E-A-T matter?

E-A-T is now an essential aspect of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines and is an element that even Google itself says is ‘very important’. Those already heavily involved with SEO will be very familiar with E-A-T, but for small or start-up businesses just starting to get to grips with SEO, E-A-T is an essential SEO strategy to keep in mind.

What is E-A-T specifically?

E-A-T is a guideline used by Google to assess the value of a piece of content, determining how high it should rank in search engines. Google first included E-A-T into its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in 2014 and has gradually grown in prominence.

Expertise

Expertise looks at the knowledge of the content creator. You must clearly communicate your topic in a way that audiences will find engaging.

Authoritativeness

Google assesses the authority of the content and the domain. Therefore, it’s essential to link to other relevant websites and authoritative sources that Google already recognizes.

Trustworthiness

Google also assesses the authority of the content and the domain. When building trustworthiness, it’s crucial to be transparent, ensuring that your website is safe and secure.

content writing

What is a high-quality piece of content?

We know that Google favours high-quality content but what constitutes high-quality content? All content should have a clear purpose and effectively achieve that purpose, whether informative or entertaining.

When assessing high-quality content, Google looks at the following elements:

  • Descriptive and helpful titles.
  • Detailed website information, including who is responsible for the website.
  • Substantial customer service information where necessary.
  • Positive website reputation.

Google says that a high-quality piece of content should contain:

  • Journalistic professionalism.
  • Factual accuracy.
  • Information to help others better understand the topic.

Is E-A-T a ranking factor?

Whilst E-A-T is not explicitly a direct ranking factor; it can impact how your content ranks on search engines. However, E-A-T is assessed alongside other aspects of Google’s algorithm, so it is vital to consider when crafting content.

Why is E-A-T an important SEO element?

Almost everyone who works in digital marketing has come across the phrase ‘content is king’. Whilst this phrase tells us that content is essential, it does nothing to tell us how to make better content. E-A-T is helpful because it tells us what actions to take when creating meaningful content.

How to improve E-A-T

We know that high-quality content is important but knowing where to start when improving your content’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness can be a challenge.

Here are a few steps you can take to improve your website’s E-A-T:

Create author pages

Google states that knowing who is responsible for your website’s content is a crucial E-A-T element. As a result, it can be beneficial to have author pages or about pages to see who is behind the content and establish your content team’s expertise.

Work with expert content creators

When outsourcing your content, rather than hiring freelancers with no experience in your particular field, consider hiring expert content creators with knowledge on the subject.

Alternatively, if writing the content yourself, you could speak with industry leaders and experts to gain valuable quotes to give readers critical insight into the topic at hand.

Ensure your content has a clear purpose

Google highlights that good quality content should have a clear purpose, so it’s important to consider the aim of your writing. For example, the objective could be to inform, convince or describe a particular subject. Divide your content into clear headings to make it easy to follow and ensure your language is concise to avoid confusion.

Regularly update content

Google favours up to date content that is relevant and helpful to users. However, content can quickly become outdated, so it’s essential to review past content regularly and reoptimize to ensure it remains relevant and on-trend.

Regularly reviewing content can also help you keep on top of dead links, so it is always considered SEO best practice.

Link to high-quality sources

When linking to research and statistics, it’s crucial to refer to trusted, official sources wherever possible to help improve your E-A-T. Linking to research papers on sources like JSTOR is an excellent option or even Tweets from industry professionals.

Consider multiple viewpoints

Trustworthy sources often contain balanced arguments, so it’s a good idea to include alternative viewpoints within your content. Outlining other perspectives shows that you have considered a range of opinions and helps to establish trust with your audience.

Consider your online reputation

Negative press concerning your brand can create serious consequences when trying to build your brand’s trustworthiness. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye out for negative comments on social media or unfavourable press regarding your brand. Knowing what others are saying about you online can help you respond accordingly and protect your brand.

What Are Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines?

E-A-T was a concept first outlined in Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines. This document is updated regularly, outlining how Google’s Quality Raters should rate websites. It is a lengthy document, currently around 175 pages.

What is a Google Quality Rater?

Google hires thousands of people worldwide to rate websites, recording what is good and bad against various criteria. The scores from Google Quality Raters do not directly impact the rankings of the websites they rate, though it can impact the rankings of websites collectively.

How do Google Quality Raters impact collective website rankings?

Google Quality Raters assign values to websites using an online system. The back end of this system uses machine learning to group similar websites, looking for commonalities. The system will observe the structure of a website, backlinks, authors and navigation.

Once the system has crawled the various website data, these signals can then be processed by Google’s algorithm, which can impact rankings.

What do Google Raters look for?

Google Raters will observe a website through the lens of what Google’s algorithm wants them to produce and focus on. The two primary assessments are page quality and how websites meet the needs of users.

Meeting needs

Websites meeting the needs of users all comes down to search intent. Raters will assess what a user would be looking to gain by their search term and how your website provides satisfying results.

However, just because a website meets users’ needs, this does not necessarily equate to good page quality.

Page quality

There are various elements Google assesses when looking at page quality, the main being Your Money or Your Life (YMYL). Google outlines YMYL as web pages or topics that could impact a user’s happiness, health, finances, or safety. Such topics include current events, law, finance and shopping.

How are content sections divided?

Within Google’s guidelines, content can be divided into:

  • Main Content (MC) – part of a webpage that helps the page achieve its purpose.
  • Supplemental Content (SC) – provides a good user experience but does not achieve the web page’s sole purpose.
  • Ads – adverts and links with the intention for monetization of the web page.

E-A-T checklist

When crafting your content, it can be helpful to consider the following to ensure you incorporate E-A-T concepts:

Optimized content

In addition to ensuring your website contains the relevant keywords you want to rank for, it’s also essential to fact check your work and ensure that the content is as concise as possible.

Brand transparency

Becoming a trustworthy source means having an intact brand reputation. As a result, it’s vital to respond to both positive and negative comments and reviews online, helping provide your customers with a complete and accurate image of your products and services.

Shared sources

It’s no longer enough to be an expert in a particular field. Google wants to see proof of your authority by having others share your content and link back to your website.

Relevant content

Irrelevant, out of date content serves no purpose. It’s, therefore, crucial to ensure all your content contains up to date statistics and data to ensure you stay ahead of the game.

Industry expertise

Just because you are an expert on a subject, using jargon and complicated terms will only alienate and confuse your readers. Instead, content creators should aim to deliver content that audiences can engage with.

Website security

Cybersecurity has become a significant priority for businesses to protect their users whilst also being favoured by Google. Ensure your website converts from HTTP to HTTPS or obtains an SSL certificate.

Page purpose

When creating content, always ask yourself the purpose of a particular page and how your page fulfils that purpose for the user. Don’t be tempted to create multiple web pages purely to rank for different search terms. It’s much more profitable to keep pages targeted, providing value to the user kept at the forefront.

Engage in forums

When looking to become more knowledgeable on a particular subject, it can be helpful to speak with industry experts on forums and discussion boards. This activity not only helps build knowledge but can also place you in touch with other industry experts who could provide valuable backlinks to your website.

Backlink building

Speaking of backlinks, it’s essential to run an audit to check whether they are from trusted sites relevant to your industry. An online tool will also help you see the backlinks of your competitors.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews are crucial when it comes to E-A-T scores as they provide evidence of your company’s credibility.

Using structured data to help with E-A-T

Structured data helps establish the connection between webpage entities, particularly amongst the numerous places they are mentioned online. Google states that providing schema mark-up can help provide clues as to what your page is about and understand the page’s content.

What is the value of structured data?

Whilst Google is incredibly powerful and complex; we often forget that it is not a human being. Google patent expert Bill Slawski notes how structured data can provide Google with an extra element of preciseness when interpreting page data. Slawski also likens structured data to ‘spoon feeding’ Google information.

Structured data is beneficial in the context of E-A-T as it can:

  • Decrease ambiguity amongst entities.
  • Help Google create new connections between entities.
  • Provide further information about an entity to Google.

How to implement structured data

Structured data can be implemented via J-SON, Google’s preferred method, Microdata, or RDFa. It is also possible to add structured data via Javascript or Google Tag Manager.

WordPress websites also have a host of plugins that contain built-in Schema capabilities.

Which schema types improve E-A-T

There are many types of schema, but the following are most beneficial when it comes to E-A-T:

  • Person schema – helps display the expertise of the content creator, revealing elements such as awards, occupation and credentials.
  • Organization schema – reveals the address, founder and credentials of an organization.
  • Author schema – can be used for articles, with schema mark-up placed in the author’s by-line.
  • Reviewedby schema – when experts review your content, review schema can help highlight your content’s credibility.
  • Citation schema – a great way to list the other publications that your content cites to show Google referencing authoritative sources.

As with any SEO strategy, incorporating E-A-T concepts into your content will not result in overnight success. Instead, E-A-T is a tactic to be used alongside other SEO elements, from fixing technical issues to optimizing your website metadata.

Establishing trust amongst your audience will take time, especially if your business has not yet built a track record. With Google’s algorithm constantly changing, the criteria for establishing E-A-T can very quickly change.

Always stay updated with Google changes to ensure you consistently engage in best SEO practices, and your website ranks as highly as possible.

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