What is E-A-T And How it Impacts SEO Strategies
Although there are still controversies about this ranking factor, optimizing your site based on the E-A-T concept can be regarded as good SEO practice. This is because, in the worst-case scenario, you will be increasing your chances of getting more traffic.
In this article, we will talk about what E-A-T is and how it impacts site optimization strategies. We will approach tactics to improve this factor in your pages and thus get more visits.
Ready to learn everything about it? Then, stay with us and enjoy your reading! Here are the topics we’ll cover:
- What has Google been saying about E-A-T?
- What is the impact of E-A-T on YMYL (and what is YMYL)?
- What are the characteristics of high and low-quality pages?
- What is the importance of the author’s E-A-T?
- How do the algorithms measure E-A-T?
- How to improve E-A-T?
What has Google been saying about E-A-T?
In February 2019, Google itself confirmed that E-A-T is a very important part of its algorithm.
Let’s look deeper into the subject. On Google, there is a document called Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), which is full of guidelines on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust (E-A-T). It is a set of SEO practices recommended by the search engine itself.
According to the Google Webmasters blog, the company develops these guidelines to help professionals understand what Google wants to see on a website in terms of quality. Google professionals encourage everyone to study the material.
But don’t worry: we did it for you. In an interview for CNBC, Google’s vice president of search, Ben Gomes, said:
“You can look at the ranking guidelines as a direction to where we want the search algorithm to go. They don’t say how the algorithm is ranking the results, but they show fundamentally what the algorithm should do”.
In other words, we can interpret that it is only a matter of time for E-A-T to become highly relevant in Google’s algorithm — and, consequently, in SEO strategies.
What is the impact of E-A-T on YMYL (and what is YMYL)?
According to Google, the first step to a good ranking is to understand the page’s true purpose. This may sound a little too philosophical, but it’s not.
In fact, the page’s purpose is something that you can understand by asking yourself a very practical question: “how do I intend to help visitors?”.
Sites or pages without a clear benefit have less expertise, authority, and reliability, and, because of that, are given the worst ranking positions.
As a way to protect the users against fraud, apparently, Google values E-A-T even more on sites that fall in the definition of Your Money or Your Life (YMYL). These are medical, legal, or financial websites.
In other words, YMYL sites are those that advise people on important decisions. Usually, they also strive to sell products online — so Google keeps an eye on them.
However, nobody knows for sure which sites Google considers to be YMYL. So, if you offer any kind of guidance or advice to your readers, it’s important to keep an eye on E-A-T — especially if you accept credit card transactions.
In short, what Google says is that sites containing medical, legal, financial, and other information should come from sources regarded as authorities in their areas.
The pages should also be based on accurate facts and represent scientific consensus (at least in areas in which there is some consensus).
What are the characteristics of high and low-quality pages?
As we have seen so far, Google itself often talks about the important factors behind its ranking.
In other words, there’s no reason to despair, as long as you keep yourself updated — both if you already have a page or if you are still developing your website or blog.
In addition to everything we’ve talked about, the world’s largest search engine lists the attributes of high-quality sites and pages. Have you been following the right guidelines? Check it out below!g 3wsz
Characteristics of high-quality pages
According to the Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), the first feature of a high-quality page is precisely a high-level of E-A-T. The complete list includes:
- high level of expertise, authority, and reliability, including the E-A-T related to the editor and/or author of the articles and information on the pages;
- a considerable number of high-quality key content;
- sufficient information on who is responsible for the site, or enough information on customer service if the primary purchase page includes financial transactions;
- positive reputation of the website responsible for the page’s main content.
Characteristics of low-quality pages
Among the most common characteristics of pages that tend to rank low are:
- inadequate level of E-A-T;
- poor quality of key content;
- lack of information in the main content about the page’s purpose;
- the main content title is exaggerated or outrageous;
- ads that distract the reader from the content;
- lack of sufficient information about the content creator (Google does not appreciate anonymity);
- a reasonably negative reputation of either the website or the content creator.
If a page has several of the above features, it is quite likely to receive a bad ranking.
What is the importance of the author’s E-A-T?
There are two types of E-A-T: the whole site’s E-A-T (or whole brand’s E-A-T) and, if applicable, the website’s authors’ E-A-T. Both are very important!
Google even says that a page should be considered poor if the author or website does not have enough knowledge on the topic.
In other words, there is a difference between a financial article written by an economist and one written by a professional copywriter.
Here at Rock Content’s blog, for example, we have several articles written by the company’s partners themselves.
No matter how excellent the writers are in Content Marketing, nothing guarantees that they really know what they are talking about.
This evaluation encourages ghostwriting. After all, in this case, the website can count on someone to help write the content, but the final word will be from a specialist.
In the end, what Google tries to do is to replicate on the internet what already happens offline. If you’re looking for tax advice, would you rather read an article written by a journalist with a degree or by an accountant with years of expertise and reputation?
Similarly, if you have been diagnosed with an illness, would you like to read articles about your condition written by an SEO specialist? Or would you prefer content created by a doctor who has been treating this condition for years?
In other words, most people want to read articles written by people with E-A-T: expertise, authority, and reliability.
It is important to note that this does not diminish the importance of copywriters. On the contrary: it leads them to become more qualified while having the endorsement of specialists on the subject.
How do the algorithms measure E-A-T?
Although Google does not disclose details about how the algorithms work, some aspects are probably part of the equation. Check them out below!
Mentions about the author
Yes, once again, the author’s E-A-T shows up as criteria for the whole page’s E-A-T.
Google implemented an important algorithm update on February 7, 2017. This was the first attempt of the search engine to determine which sites have a good E-A-T.
From that day on, several sites lost positions to others that had more recognized authors. An author’s authority can be measured in several ways, like backlinks from reliable sources pointing to their contents and mentions as an expert on the subject addressed.
In general, the author is considered an authority when it is possible to Google their names and find information that proves that they act consistently in the area they write about. Therefore, the searcher favors experienced and reputable professionals.
Detail: Google believes that it can determine which entries are spontaneous and which ones are paid for (i.e., “artificially fabricated”).
There is a big difference between being mentioned by a New York Times intern, for example, and a reputable NYT journalist.
Google does not want to be held accountable for indicating harmful content to users. Therefore, as we have seen before, it is important to base your content on scientific evidence. This is especially true for YMYL sites.
Serious companies that are committed to what they do are usually in business for the long term. That’s why they revise their contents, correcting mistakes, and updating information to bring the best to their users.
Google also considers this. Anyway, it’s not enough to update a post purely to display a more recent date. The quality and truthfulness of what is written must determine the frequency of updates.
It’s a little hard to tell exactly how Google evaluates the reputation of a company. However, no one doubts that the tech giant can access countless data and intelligence to do so.
Basically, everything is taken into consideration, from brand mentions in reliable press vehicles to customer comments on social media.
How to improve E-A-T?
So far, we have learned that E-A-T is an important part of Google’s algorithms. A website without expertise, authority, and reliability is far less likely to achieve a good ranking.
The good news is that authority is something that can be built. In other words, you don’t have to be a content giant to earn positions on the first page of searches. You just need to know how to optimize the right aspects continuously.
Now, you will learn ways to improve E-A-T by following Google’s own tips.
Make sure you receive good reviews
What people say online about your business really matters. Google assumes that good companies will have positive evaluations from various sources, such as real customers, experts in the field, and press outlets.
If you sell products, reviews of marketplaces and shopping websites are very important. In any case, social media reviews also carry great significance.
In general, what Google tries to do is to determine the overall public sentiment towards your business.
So, rest assured about the exceptions. Every brand receives one or two negative reviews from clients who were stressed on a certain day. The important thing is to look at the average opinion.
If most people are complaining about your brand, product, or service, it is pivotal to invest energy in improving customer satisfaction. As you can tell, SEO and customer success go together.
In addition, some issues can serve as alerts for your evaluations:
- Do your competitors receive significantly more comments online? If so, this may be a sign that the competition is recognized as a bigger authority than your;
- Do other companies have a much higher number of positive reviews than you do? Try to find out why;
- Is the general feeling of your customer’s feedbacks negative?
Get Wikipedia mentions (or create your own page)
Wikipedia is often mentioned in the Google Quality Raters Guidelines, making it clear that the search engine recognizes it as a credible website.
This goes against what was believed until then since SEO experts used to say that Wikipedia links didn’t matter (because they are nofollow links and don’t appear on PageRank).
However, it seems that Google actually measures nofollow links, and unlinked mentions when they come from high authority sites. Interesting, huh?
Having your own Wikipedia page is not easy, but it is possible. For that, you need to follow the Wikipedia standards, which include:
- all information about your company should be verifiable;
- the brand must have received significant coverage from reliable sources.
As you can see, Wikipedia’s criteria are very similar to E-A-T, right? That’s why it’s hard to fake authority. Having a Wikipedia page can help improve your perceived authority, but you can’t get a Wikipedia page unless you’re already seen as an authority.
Either way, there is an alternative: getting positive mentions of your company on other Wikipedia pages. In some areas, you can edit articles and mention your company.
But attention: To do this, you have to be very careful and attentive. If the Wikipedia community realizes that you are only self-promoting, your link will be removed quickly.
Have high-authority sites mention you
This is probably the most important aspect of E-A-T. In the acronym, the letter “A” means “authority”.
On the internet, the most common way to gain authority is by being mentioned by reliable sources, such as press outlets and large content portals.
As we have commented previously, Google has an increasing ability to determine which statements on the web are reliable. So it’s important to stay vigilant.
If a link or a mention is too easy to obtain, it tends not to help much. These are links that you’ve paid for or somehow encouraged the website owner to talk about your company.
The same goes for cases in which you provided content. This does not take away the value of guest posts, but undoubtedly a mention in such an article is less significant than a spontaneous quote from a specialist.
Good mentions on sites with high authority are usually difficult to achieve. However, if you want to be acknowledged as an authority, it is vitally important that you find ways to get them. Some ideas for being mentioned on important websites are:
- publish original research;
- summarize current scientific research;
- network with journalists through social media;
- create offline connections with people who are recognized as authorities in their field.
Obtain mentions in forums
If people are really excited about your brand, the tendency is for them to quote you on internet forums. On the one hand, it may seem unlikely that mentions in forums will help your SEO. After all, this is something that could easily be forged.
However, we are not the ones who claim it, but Google itself. Nevertheless, make no mistake: Google can determine which mentions are worth contributing to the E-A-T and which are not.
Just by looking at a forum or even Yahoo Answers, you should already see if a conversation is real or artificially generated by a marketing professional.
And why does Google analyze information in forums? Simple: no matter how useful sites like TripAdvisor and Wikipedia are, often the most useful information comes from users in casual discussions. Once again, don’t mistake this tip as an incentive for spamming around.
What really matters is to monitor brand mentions on the internet to see how your image is doing.
This way, you can enforce improvements in your branding so that people can talk more about your products or services.
One of Google’s updates related to E-A-T was Medic, which took place in August 2018. Since then, the search giant started quoting the word “security“.
Many of the sites that dropped in Google rankings after this update had reliability problems, like:
- a large number of negative comments online;
- customers who complained about not getting a refund;
- medical articles lacking scientific references or making statements contradicting the current scientific consensus.
Show E-A-T on your site
As Google says, E-A-T is mainly determined through links and mentions outside the website.
However, this does not exclude the importance of optimizing E-A-T on your own website.
One way to work on this is to show how your company strives to be more reliable and specialized in what it does, as well as in the information it presents to the public. In this article, we talked a lot about E-A-T, which is part of Google’s algorithm.
Finally, to go further in your SEO strategy, it is important to understand how search engines evaluate and rank content according to the most different criteria. Read this article and learn more about BERT, Google’s new algorithm!