Rumours about E-A-T have been swirling round SEO circles since 2018, but the reality is that Google’s E-A-T guidelines have existed since 2014. This is just one of the many misconceptions surrounding E-A-T and its impact on SEO.
There’s a lot of confusion over what E-A-T actually is, what it means for SEO and what sites need to do about it. Thankfully, we’re here to put all your concerns to rest and answer all your E-A-T questions.
What is E-A-T
Let’s start off with the basics. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It was introduced as part of Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines – this is the document used by Google’s human quality raters to assess the quality of the search results, sites and content.
But what does Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness mean?
Expertise means to have a high level of knowledge on a particular subject or industry. Google considers expertise on a page-by-page basis, meaning expertise is determined at a content level, not a site level.
To display expertise, consider who is creating the content and who you are citing within it. You can get different levels of experts from scholars and professionals to self-taught hobbyists and influencers.
Authoritativeness means the perceived authority you have on a certain industry or topic. Authoritativeness is gaged on both the content itself, as well as the overall authority of your site.
To determine this, Google’s quality raters will examine the reputation of the author and your organisation by looking at reviews, references and individual sources.
Trustworthiness is about the legitimacy, transparency and accuracy of your site and content. It is very similar to authoritativeness, however there are some subtle differences between the two. Whilst authoritativeness focuses on the volume of quality references, trustworthiness focuses on specific signals and sites. For example, they will consider the amount of information available about the author and your company, as well as the type of sources that you are citing.
However, as Ahrefs rightly points out, both Trustworthiness and Authoritativeness are relative concepts. People and websites can’t be perceived as trustworthy and authoritative in all areas. For example, you can trust us to give you accurate information about online marketing, but not how to grow your own vegetables.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor?
No, despite many arguments to the contrary, E-A-T is not a ranking factor. This is because it is not a quantifiable metric. Google can’t quantify or score E-A-T in the same way that it can for the likes of page speed, or the number of backlinks pointing to your pages.
If you couldn’t determine from the above definitions, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are all reasonably vague, human concepts. As of yet, there isn’t a way for Google’s bots to crawl and evaluate these factors. As a result, there is no E-A-T score.
If E-A-T isn’t a ranking factor, is it important?
The short answer is yes and no. Confused yet? Now you can understand why SEO specialists have spent the better part of 4 years debating the subject.
Whilst E-A-T is not a ranking factor, it still holds value for SEO. Although Google is unable to create a computer programme that reads E-A-T, it is part of the guidelines for Google’s Quality Rater’s reviews, which do inform the changes Google’s engineers make to the algorithm.
Therefore, E-A-T should definitely be kept in mind. However, it shouldn’t over right all other SEO best practices. Rather, it should be used as a framework within which to strategies other SEO tactics.
E-A-T is also more important for some sites than others. The sites that it is most important for, is Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sites.
What is YMYL?
YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life sites. Google refers to these sites as:
‘…pages or topics could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.’
Part of the purpose of E-A-T is to fight misinformation. This is of particular importance for any sites that could negatively impact someone’s life, meaning YMYL sites. Therefore, if you have a YMYL site you need to make sure that you are providing accurate information and Google determines the accuracy of that information through Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
Types of YMYL sites
There are many different types of YMYL sites. However, the main ones are:
- News and current events
- Government, law and civics related topics
- Financial advice
- Medical advice
- Health and safety
- Groups of people such as ethnicity, race, religion, sexuality etc
Many people don’t consider shopping sites to be YMYL sites but Google states that any site that is informing a purchasing decision counts as a YMYL site. Other YMYL sites include fitness, education, housing etc.
How to Demonstrate E-A-T
It’s important to note that E-A-T isn’t a quick fix and whilst we have clues, there is no set list of steps to take that will demonstrate E-A-T. So, the most important thing is to ensure that you are always creating high quality and accurate content at all times. However, there are some other steps you can take to help improve your E-A-T.
- Tell users who you are
The easiest thing to do is make it clear who the author and organisation is so that Google can judge your knowledge on the subject. Consider creating author pages and make sure your ‘About Us’ page is up to date.
- Work with experts when creating new content
There are many different ways to include experts in your content. This can be done through interviews, quotes, guest posts and collaborations.
- Make the purpose of your content clear
If your content is unclear, vague or confusing it suggests that you don’t know what you’re talking about. To demonstrate your knowledge, make sure to clearly address the topic, make use of headings and write in straightforward language that will appeal to your target audience.
- Update your content regularly
The average life span of content is 2 years so make sure that you perform routine content audits and reviews to make sure your content is kept up to date. You can include these audits in your content strategy to ensure that your content contains up to date stats, best practices and working links.
- Link to high quality sources and consider multiple viewpoints
- Pay attention to your online reputation
Encourage users to leave your business/ organisation reviews and ensure that you respond to all positive and negative ones. Also set up press alerts and watch out for any negative ones so that you can strategise an appropriate response. Lastly, claim all social media profiles possible, even if it’s not necessarily a channel you want to use, so that no one else does it before you.
- Make use of structured data
Structured data is an easy way to tell Google what your site is about and what the purpose of your content is, allowing them to understand it better. Get in touch with your developer to decide what type of structured data is best for you. Common ones include Person, Organisation, Author and Article.
All of these tactics will help you to demonstrate E-A-T to Google and the user. However, the most important thing to remember is that E-A-T is just a framework, it is not an SEO strategy. Therefore, you shouldn’t prioritise it over other SEO best practices.
However, E-A-T is only going to become increasingly important as time goes on and so it’s a good idea to keep it in mind, particularly for YMYL sites.
For more advice on SEO strategies check out our SEO services and get in touch today, we’re happy to help!