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Guide to Google SEO and E-A-T

Google rankings based on expertise, authority and trust.

If you follow SEO, you may have noticed an acronym that has become part of the conversation. This acronym tells you all you need to know and seriously consider about SEO. That acronym is E-A-T.

There are a bunch of great resources to do a deep dive into E-A-T if you want to. And I recommend that you do, you know, the “knowledge is power” thing? However, in this post, I'm just going to give you an overview of E-A-T so that you can start to review your site and your content.

And now, with the upcoming “page experience update” due to roll out this summer, time to embrace what is required to rank well.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

What Does E-A-T Mean?

Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). This comes right from the horse's mouth. Google's Site Quality Rater Guidelines is a 172 page PDF document covering what Google site evaluators use in their determinations. [Updated October 19, 2021]

UPDATE: Google updated their QRG guidelines linked to the above on May 16, 2019. One of the changes was that the term E-A-T was replaced with “Page Quality.” Keep this in mind as you continue in this article. (Read Google's latest post on the topic here.)

Google states in a series of tweets that site evaluators have no impact on rankings. However, this information provides a window into what Google's thought process may be. And it is no big surprise — just common sense.

Important: search raters have no control over how pages rank. Rater data is not used in our algorithms. Rather, we use them as a restaurant that might get feedback cards from diners. The feedback helps us know if our search “recipes” seem to be working….

If you understand how raters learn to assess good content, that might help you improve your own content — and, in turn, perhaps do better in search.

Google

GSQEG, Section 4.1 in particular notes:

  • The expertise of the creator of the MC (main content).
  • The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
  • The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.

Nothing new, right? This is how sites have consistently been ranked. But, now, we have some Google documentation and another way to explain some of the variables you need to consider regarding your search engine rankings.

Our systems aren't looking for EAT. Our raters are using that to see if our systems are working well to show good information. There are many different signals that, if we get it right, align with what a good human EAT assessment would be.

Danny Sullivan

Then, recently, in March 2020 Google added to the GSQEG:

GOOGLE CORE UPDATES DOC

Next came discussions with John Mueller of Google:

That's not something we'd explicitly measure for Search — it's a concept we wrote about in our Quality Rater's guidelines ( https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/9281931?hl=en … ), so I'd check that out.

John Mueller

Google has been telling us this about E-A-T, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, for a long time. In 2019, Google said they don't have an EAT score. In early 2020, Google said it's systems don't look for EAT but later in 2020, Google said it hopes its system does align with EAT.

sEO Roundtable 6.22.20

So while EAT isn't an algorithm or something you can “track,” it is a solid guide on what you need to do to ensure your site signals “what a good human EAT assessment would be.” EAT is just a conceptual model for humans to explain what the algorithm is trying to emulate. So use this knowledge to your advantage. Read the official document on “How Google Search Works.”

Expertise:

Are you knowledgeable on the topic of your site? This is where putting efforts into building your brand consistently across platforms will pay off. This is why I put a significant emphasis on crafting a website's About Page when I work with my clients because it contributes to the story of their E-A-T.

When a high level of authoritativeness or expertise is needed, the reputation of a website should be judged on what expert opinions have to say. Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies, are strong evidence of very positive reputation.

GSQEG, 2.6.1

Even more so if you are a YMYL site. “Your Money or Your Life.”

Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL.

GSQEG, Section 2.3

Pages that fall into YMYL are

  • Shopping or Financial Transaction Pages
  • Financial Information Pages
  • Medical Information Pages
  • Legal * Information Pages
  • News Articles or Public/Official Information Pages for having an informed citizenry.

Look for information written by a person, not statistics or other machine-compiled information. News articles, Wikipedia articles, blog posts, magazine articles, forum discussions, and ratings from independent organizations can all be sources of reputation information. Look for independent, credible sources of information.

GSQEG, 2.6.1

Topics and Expertise

This doesn't require an “official” expert like a lawyer or doctor with educational credentials. Life experience can provide that expertise indicator as “everyday experience.” Once again, the quality and volume of your content should back this up.

Some topics require less formal expertise. Many people write extremely detailed, helpful reviews of products or restaurants. Many people share tips and life experiences on forums, blogs, etc. These ordinary people may be considered experts in topics where they have life experience. If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an “expert” on the topic, we will value this “everyday expertise” and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having “formal” education or training in the field.

GSQEG, 3.2

Authoritativeness

It is clear who is creating the content? Does experience back up the content? Are you a credible source? (Or just a site churning out shallow or aggregated content to support all your ads?) Credibility is also viewed not by the content alone but through outside reviews and testimonials *.

This goes for your Author profile too! Be sure to list all your credentials and provide a detailed view, including any accreditation and endorsements. Make clear why you are an expert on the topics that you write about.

Trustworthiness

Is the site creator, content, and overall site quality easily trusted? This includes security (HTTPS). Contact information, policy pages, privacy statements also contribute to trustworthiness.

The bottom line is you need to be credible from visuals to content, to context and structure. Every little thing you do, or don't do, can hurt the E-A-T determination for your website.

It's All About High Quality, Baby

Back in the day, putting up your website produced results. Primarily because there weren't as many websites which made it easier to get found. The bar wasn't as high as it is today. Now, to get found depends on algorithms and social media proof. All of which depends on users and platforms determining your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. And, boy, has that bar been raised.

If you think about it, you apply E-A-T principles every time you land on a new site, even if subconsciously. You determine if the information is credible if you are willing to trust that site with your hard-earned dollars.

GOOGLE UPDATE: 4.19.21:
“Last November, we announced that the page experience ranking change will go live on Google Search this year, in what we're calling the “page experience update.” To help publishers and site owners improve their page experience and prepare, today we're announcing a few key updates…”
Read blog more on Google.

Quality and Satisfaction are Key

Shoot for high quality. Not average, not just enough. High quality.

One can say that quality is in the eye of the beholder. But not when it comes to SEO. Your website overall and particularly your content needs to offer a benefit and satisfy that purpose well.

High-quality pages have the following characteristics:
● High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
● A satisfying amount of high-quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title.
● Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information.
● Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page. Positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.

GSQEG, 4.1

Ask Yourself These E-A-T Questions

  • Can site visitors easily find what they are looking for?
  • When site visitors land on your site, are their needs met?
  • Is your content well written, thorough and reliable?
  • Do you have enough main content to back up the E-A-T for your site?
  • When was the last time you pruned content with minimal traffic?
  • Is your site updated, edited, and maintained? Regularly?

Now that you understand what is considered a high-quality site, you know what you need to do. First, review your main content, visuals, and navigation and make sure it is the best for your site visitors.

Yes, you need to do whatever you can to make your site zippy too. While updates and algorithms can impact your rankings, creating great content is still the magic bullet, if any. However, if your site hangs, no one will stick around for all that great content.

None of this is really “new” news. It's the way sites have been judged from the start. Do you want to be viewed as an expert? Write like one – a lot. Do you want to be an authority on a subject? You'd better be one because you can't fake that.

Want to get great rankings? Make sure your site pops and is user-friendly.

If you want to be trusted, there are no shortcuts.

At your service,

Judith: WordPress Consultant and Business Coach