E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. And, while it’s not specifically one of Google’s ranking factors, it plays a big part in the creation and development of the algorithm that does determine ranking factors.
The idea behind E-A-T is to ensure that pages and websites ranking high in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are of a good quality. Creation of valuable content is a common theme in SEO, and E-A-T give us more of an insight into how Google identifies that.
This information will be most relevant to ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYO) websites. That is, those sites that may significantly affect a person’s life or financial situation, such as sites offering financial advice, medical information or news. However, many of the good practices for E-A-T are also relevant for all businesses and websites, so take a look and see if you can find ways to make improvements!
Quality Raters and the Quality Raters’ Guidelines
Google makes use of thousands of quality raters – actual humans (not computers) whose job it is to manually check through websites and report on the quality of each website. To do this, they follow the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, an extensive document that offers plenty of clues as to what Google is looking for in its top-ranking websites.
These reports are then used to tell Google whether its algorithm is doing what they want it to, i.e. rewarding good-quality content with a high position in the SERPs. If what they consider low-quality sites are showing up well in search terms, then this indicates their algorithm isn’t working effectively. So they make adjustments and updates.
Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness
So what exactly do these three words mean when it comes to SEO? And how can you make sure your site aligns with them?
This looks at individual pages, as opposed to the full website. Has the page been written by someone who is an expert on the subject? Does the content demonstrate that?
Add informative author bios
You might have an expert writing your content, but if you’re not clear about it, then how is Google (or any user) to know? Make sure each piece of content includes an author biography that describes their experience and helps Google understand why this content should be trusted over others on a similar topic. Also think about including a photo, links to other sites where the author has written content, and links to social profiles.
Genuine experts are better than in-depth research
Anyone can research a topic using the stores of information available on the internet. And while this is a good way to create quality content, it’s better if you can have a practising expert write something instead.
If that’s not possible, write it yourself and then arrange for an expert to look over your content and approve it. Then include a note to that effect on the post. Or you can ensure you reference established and respected sources that you have used in your research.
Check for errors
Make sure your content is accurate. Not only should you check for grammar and spelling mistakes, but also factual errors. If you get information wrong that is easily verifiable, then you’ll likely see a negative impact in your rankings.
Have a ‘satisfying amount’ of content
It’s already well known that Google doesn’t like ‘thin’ content – that is, content that is short and uninformative. But the actual length of your text will depend on the type of subject covered. If you’re writing about a complex topic, then it’s likely Google will expect more text than if you’re writing about something that’s less complicated.
How strong is the website, and the domain, as a whole? Is your brand referenced and recommended by other established experts in the field?
Link building plays a big part in authoritativeness. You want to have trusted and relevant websites link back to your content, either because you provide relevant and informative content that they refer to, or because they recommend you as another expert. You can also reach out to other sites (or they could reach out to you) to create guest posts.
If your brand is mentioned positively across social media and related forums, this can help with authoritativeness (as well as trustworthiness). Again, these mentions should recommend your brand, content, and/or authors, which will demonstrate your authority within your niche.
Internal links can help direct website users to other topics you cover on your site. This not only encourages more engagement by keeping them on your site for longer, it demonstrates further expertise of your subject and relevant topics.
What is your brand’s reputation across the internet? What do people say about you, your product, and your people? Google is looking at a general sentiment, so your aim is to provide an overall positive vibe, it’s not necessary to worry about eliminating every single negative opinion.
This element in particular demonstrates how far-reaching E-A-T is. It’s not just about hitting certain SEO goals, but about making sure your company is a good all-rounder. You can have excellent content, but if your customer service isn’t up to scratch, then you could lose out on top rankings.
External reviews are a good indicator of how Google sees your overall trustworthiness. Are people generally positive about your brand? Have they had a good experience? Make sure you’re providing users with a service that they want to say good things about. Then remember to ask them to leave you a review on your chosen platform(s)!
You can read my guide on how to use online reviews for SEO and customer service.
Clear information on your website
How do your users get in touch? Is your contact information easy to find? If you sell products, is information relating to refunds and returns clear and easy to locate? If not, why? By hiding this information, you are indicating to Google’s quality controllers that you don’t want to help your users.
Stick to established facts and scientific consensus
If your website deals with anything that’s linked to scientific research, then you’ll generally need to ensure that the information you provide agrees with scientific consensus. If you’re not, then Google is likely to penalise you because your content could be viewed as misleading or a scam.
Control on-site ads
If you have ads on your site, then make sure they don’t disrupt the user experience or distract from your content. Badly utilised on-site ads are spammy and seen as a nuisance, and Google recognises that.
Avoid click-bait titles
We all know the type: links to sites that promise wild and exciting content that has never been seen before. Then you click and the reality is thin content that has little of interest and may be completely unrelated to the title. This is click-bait, designed to get traffic onto a website without necessarily keeping them there. And Google doesn’t like it! So when you’re writing page titles, make sure they’re descriptive and accurate.
Provide good navigation
People need to find their way around your site, so make sure your navigation is easy to use. If you have a large site and can’t include all links in your menu, ensure you have the most important and useful links in your main menu, and any others can be linked within the content of your site or via secondary menus. Also make sure that your home page can be easily reached from anywhere on your site, and that it includes links to your most important content.
E-A-T, or Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, is another level to Google’s attempts to prioritise helpful and informative content to users. It’s wide-ranging and can’t be achieved by quick fixes so you should, instead, focus on building these elements of your website and business over time.