Understanding Google’s E-A-T Principle

We talk about everything you need to take into consideration surrounding Google’s E-A-T factor.

Google E-A-T Explained

There are over 1 billion websites on the world wide web. That’s an overwhelming thought when you’re a website owner.

What are the chances of having your website served as a result for someone’s query? Realistically, the chances are slim when we think about it, but there are steps you can take to make sure that your website ranks in the search engine results pages, for the relevant search terms, to attract your target audience.

So let’s start at the basics. Who is responsible for your website and the traffic that it attracts? Your SEO team. If you haven’t gotten onto the digital trend yet, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is a digital marketing strategy that involves the process of improving the quality and quantity of website visitors. Ultimately, SEO is responsible for growing your brand presence digitally and organically.

Why is SEO important?

By means of your SEO efforts, Google determines which websites deserve to rank for each search query entered into Google’s search box.

Google search box

So, how does Google choose between 1 billion websites? Well, over the past few decades, Google’s algorithms have evolved tremendously to not only understand a query but also to understand the intent of a query and be able to serve relevant search results that match a user’s intent.

Your SEO efforts through means of updating your site with quality and relevant content, with outreach and link building efforts and maintaining your technical SEO only form a handful of the 200 ranking factors that Google uses to evaluate your website.

 

So, what is E-A-T, and what does it have to do with my website?

Recently, discussion about an E-A-T update has been buzzing digital marketing forums and in SEO chat rooms, with various speculations about what this means and how to optimise your website to be compliant according to Google’s guidelines.

E-A-T refers to the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, relating specifically to a website. This term is explained in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. These are guidelines used by Google’s Human Quality Raters  that Google published to help SEO specialists and webmasters understand what Google looks for in a web page when deciding to rank your website.

E-A-T holds various levels of importance for different types of queries.

If you’re searching “dog memes” the results of you not finding a funny or relevant dog meme is not really a big deal.

However, if you’re searching for information related to medication, like whether you shouldn’t take certain medications together or what dose of a medication to take, the results could influence your life negatively, if it is misleading or inaccurate.

Misleading or inaccurate? This is exactly what Google wants to avoid serving users. Misleading and inaccurate information. Google wants to “Deliver the most relevant and reliable information available” 

Google refers to topics influencing your life, like topics about health, month, happiness or safety as YMYL – Your Money or Your Life. If your website is built around a topic that can influence any such factor in a person’s life, demonstrating E-A-T is very important.

 

How to Improve E-A-T on your website?

What does EAT mean?

E-A-T is not an algorithm but rather a concept derived from Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. These guidelines use the EAT principles to assess the quality of a website’s pages. This has an influence on whether your web page will appear in the search engine results.

  • E for Expertise

When deciding about the quality of your website and what level of expertise is required, Google recommends thinking about the topic of your page and what level of expertise is required to write about the topic. 

Does it require you to have a formal certification and experience or would a fair amount of “life expertise” be enough to validate the content?

According to Google, Some topics will require less formal expertise as people are able to write detailed, helpful reviews of products or restaurants. In other cases people share tips and life experiences through blogging or on forums. In these instances, Google will value the information created on the topic if it appears that the person has enough relevant life experience on the topic.

So in essence, expertise refers to having a high level of knowledge or skill in a particular field. 

 

  • A for Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness is explained by Google as having to do with a website or organisation’s reputation.

When evaluating your website’s authoritativeness, quality raters will do research about the reputation of a website. They will review what external sources are saying about your website. In this case, independent resources are important. A strong signal for authority would be any reviews, recommendations or references written by individuals about the website.

 

  • T for Trustworthiness

When evaluating a website’s trustworthiness, the transparency and accuracy of the content is evaluated. Here, information like transparency about the website content creators, verifying factual information and citing relevant trustworthy sources are important.

When it comes to the trustworthiness of a website, the raters guidelines state that “ YMYL websites demand a high degree of trust, so they generally need satisfying information about who is responsible for the content of the site. In addition, High quality stores and financial transaction websites also need clear and satisfying customer service information to help users resolve issues”

So it all has to do with the type of content you produce and how important it is to have the information factually checked. For sites that are not a YMYL website, it might be enough to only have an email address, depending on the purpose of the website. Being trustworthy means people can trust you as a source of information and that the information you publish is true and accurate.

 

Is E-A-T a ranking factor?

Indirectly, yes.

This answer might seem vague, but if you think about it, for something to be a ranking factor, you need to be able to measure it directly. So either a site has it or not. Like a fast loading speed. 

In terms of E-A-T, there is no one factor that Google can measure to determine whether your website is “E-A-T compliant”. Instead, they’re able to do this with the help of the human quality raters, and as well as various signals that their algorithms are able to understand. Like referring domains to the website, keeping content up to date, external reviews about the site and any credentials on site.

So when deciding on the quality of your website and how it should be ranked, Google makes use of their sophisticated algorithms as well as the help of human raters to understand aspects of a site that their algorithms can’t decipher (yet!).

 

How to improve your E-A-T

A good starting point for reviewing your E-A-T compliance is to make sure that your website content meets the guidelines laid out by Google.  The main points we understand from the rater’s guidelines are that each website should have a purpose, all content needs to have the right expertise behind it and the amount of expertise required is determined by the influence the information can have on someone’s life.

Let’s look at some points you can focus on to improve and demonstrate E-A-T on your website.

 

  • Keep content up to date and fresh

Remember that if you’re covering YMYL topics, keeping your content up to date is important to show E-A-T. Even non YMYL topics require a certain level of being reviewed and being updated as certain information changes. When updating articles or changing information, add a “reviewed” or “edited” date, to indicated that outdated content is constantly being removed or checked.

  • Check the facts and use citations

To be able to demonstrate a high level of E-A-T, content needs to be factually accurate. Think again about whether the information you’re giving someone can influence their life fatally in any way. When you make use of statistics and information that can be backed up by research, always link to the resources and make sure that you’re citing legitimate resources.

  • Reviews are important

As seen in the quality rater’s guidelines, your website’s reputation is evaluated by what external, independent sources say about it. Focus on getting positive online reviews from various platforms to prove your website or organisation’s legitimacy.

  • Put your credentials on display

They say it’s not good to blow your own horn but when it comes to your website and online business, we highly recommend it. If your business or site has won any awards, if you have any specific certification or degrees, you need to show Google. These are all factors that demonstrate your E-A-T online.

Another way to demonstrate this is by using schema mark-up, this allows you to provide the information to search engines in a structured way.

  • Show your contact details

If your website needs to provide users with support, be sure to make your contact details visible. This reinforces that your website and organisation is trustworthy and can be contacted by users for support if need be.

  • Get mentioned  by people in the industry

Getting mentioned by well-known industry websites will improve your website and brand’s authority. As mentioned in the Quality Rater’s guide, they need to research a website’s reviews and mentions to assess the trustworthiness.

 

  • Build links to your website

This is still one of Google’s most powerful factors when assessing the legitimacy of your website. The number of external sources that link to your website and content. Getting links from other high authority websites is a big trust signal to Google that your site is demonstrating E-A-T.

Everything we mentioned about E-A-T and how to demonstrate it might sound super simple. But it takes time, effort and research to make sure that your website is following Google’s guidelines and that search engines can understand your site and rank it as an authority.

Be transparent with your SEO efforts, there are no shortcuts or quick wins. Put in the time and effort to reap the long-term results for your website.

If you’re not sure where to start with your SEO campaign, contact our expert team at Lilo, we’d be happy to set your website on the path to E-A-T.

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