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E-A-T: It’s Still a Thing and Google Really Cares About It

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Dodgeball eat

Unless you’re new to Google optimization, you’ve probably heard about E-A-T. The concept has been around since 2014, and over time, it’s become one of the most important elements of search engine optimization (SEO).

Still, no matter how long it’s been in existence, most people don’t get it.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to get E-A-T right.

What Is E-A-T?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The concept is a part of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. The concept became well known after Google’s infamous Medic Update that happened back in August 2018. E-A-T is one of the factors that Google uses to determine the quality of web pages.

Page quality plays a very big part in determining Google’s organic search results.

Overall, the factors the search engine uses to rate a web page’s quality are:

  • E-A-T.

  • Benefits the page provides to visitors.

  • Quality and amount of content on the page.

  • What’s known about the website or author.

  • Reputation of the website or author.

  • Page experience (load times and readability).

Taken together with the other factors, the more a page demonstrates expertise, authority and trustworthiness, the higher it will rank in Google.

How Does Google Determine E-A-T?

There are three primary factors that go into it:

  • The expertise of the creator of the content on a page.

  • The authoritativeness of the creator of the content, the content itself, and the website.

  • The trustworthiness of the creator of the content, the content itself, and the website.

Why Does Google Consider E-A-T?

E-A-T is one of the ways Google ensures that it supplies accurate, truthful, useful, and helpful information to searchers on its platform. Anyone can develop a website and publish anything they want on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good, accurate, or beneficial.

Many people find the freedom to publish on the internet a positive thing. However, it’s a problem for Google.

People base important decisions on what they learn from the web pages they visit based on Google’s recommendations. So, Google has made its mission to do everything possible to ensure those decisions are based on the best information possible.

While this may seem like a selfless thing to do, it’s really beneficial to Google. Think about it: Would people continue using the service if its results were bad, misleading, or caused them to make misguided choices? Probably not. It would quickly put the company out of business.

That’s where E-A-T comes in. Google analyzes the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the creator of page content, the content itself, and the entire website to ensure it connects searchers with sound information.

As an example, Google would view a legal article written by an experienced Harvard law professor as having more E-A-T value than a piece written by a first year law school student at a state university.

What Is Expertise?

Expertise varies depending on the type of site. It could be celebrity knowledge and connections to them on a gossip site. On a news page, it could be about political knowledge and connections to people in Congress. A person can have expertise in an area even if they haven’t received formal training in it. For example, Martha Stewart is considered an expert in cooking even though she isn’t a formally trained chef. In short, Google recognizes that expertise that comes from everyday life experience can have as much value as formal expertise, depending on the subject and type of search.

The one exception to this is YMYL, which stands for Your Money or Your Life. This acronym is related to how Google rates the expertise of pages that impact critical life issues like finances, health, safety, and happiness. Google holds sites that have an impact on these issues to the absolute highest E-A-T standards because the information on them could cause serious harm to the people who use them to make life decisions.

The most common YMYL sites include information about:

  • News and current events.

  • Civics, government, and law.

  • Finance.

  • Shopping.

  • Health, medical advice, and safety.

  • Vulnerable groups of people.

This is a far cry from the social media platforms that have pushed back against ensuring the accuracy of information about these subjects when posts on their platforms send users to these types of pages.

How Important Is E-A-T as a Ranking Factor?

There are many signals Google uses that determine expertise, authority, and trust, which impact rankings. While the firm doesn’t disclose how it weighs those signals, it’s a sign that E-A-T is an important one because it’s mentioned almost 140 times in its recent Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

Why Is E-A-T Important for Your SEO Strategy?

Google’s latest algorithm updates have pretty much been about one thing: improving the user experience. That’s a long way from several years ago when it encouraged keyword packing, which often contributed to a terrible reader experience.

Along with E-A-T, some of the factors Google considers when evaluating user experience are many things you probably already know about and understand including:

  • Website security.

  • Mobile friendliness.

  • Fast page load times.

E-A-T should be treated as — or more — seriously as you do these other factors.

How to Improve Your E-A-T

Key Google E-A-T best practices include:

  • Earn backlinks from highly respected, authoritative websites to demonstrate you are a trusted authority, as well.

  • Get mentions from trusted sources. This includes doing things like guest authoring articles, participating in podcasts, hosting webinars, and getting quoted in white papers. Google scans for these mentions and they matter.

  • Keep content up to date and accurate. Dated or incorrect content will kill your E-A-T credibility.

  • Earn mostly positive reviews and respond to negative ones promptly. This is an indicator of quality business practices and responsiveness to consumers.

  • Use or hire experts in your field or industry to create your content or participate in its development.

  • Promote your credentials on your website. This includes things like education, meaningful awards, association memberships, books authored, certifications, and speaking engagements.

  • Make it easy for people to contact you. This helps Google see that you’re a real company with real people.

  • Get a Wikipedia page. Wikipedia’s extreme editorial requirements indicate that companies included on it are reputable and credible. Google scans for this.

  • Review your brand. Make sure that it always positions itself as an authority in your industry.

  • Do a content audit. Check that everything on your site and blog is accurate, current, and of top quality. If it’s not, revise or eliminate it.

  • Build a content marketing plan. This will help prevent random, purposeless content development and ensure you stay focused on E-A-T friendly articles, podcasts, infographics, videos, and other types of information.

Taken together, doing these things will help ensure that Google finds your website’s content is expert, authoritative and trusted. If it does, Google will serve it up to more of its users.

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