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As marketers, we’re always on the lookout for those magic bullet SEO factors that can help our content woo search engines. While most of us are familiar with common ranking factors, Google’s E-A-T metrics often get overlooked. Well, the good news is that adhering to these guidelines can help you do well with search quality evaluators and establish yourself as an authoritative source of information online.
But first, what is E-A-T? The initialism stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s important to note that E-A-T isn’t a direct SEO ranking factor like domain age or page speed. However, it is something that Google’s search quality evaluators use to rate web pages and is likely factored into the knowledge graph that Google creates for factual content.
In case there’s any doubt whether E-A-T is a legitimate consideration for Google, let’s hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Here’s Google’s vice president of Search, HJ Kim, saying that E-A-T metrics were developed about 12 years ago to ensure that the content the search engine serves up is not harmful to users and can serve their needs in some way.
According to Google, expertise is a measure of how much knowledge or training a content creator has in the area that they’re writing on. It’s basically a way to understand whether you know what you’re talking about.
The search engine establishes expertise by looking at both what the author says about herself and the main content of a page. An author who is credentialed in an area through formal training, like a college degree, will be considered an expert in an area. Search quality evaluators also look at the main content to surmise whether somebody has expertise on what they’re talking about.
Here we have an example of a page that would be considered a high-expertise piece of content. That stems partly from the fact that the source of that content is a medical research group. That clearly shows that they are experts in what they’re talking about.
Along with that, the content of the page also demonstrates a high level of expertise on the topic. It covers a variety of aspects and gives users a holistic perspective, which is the experience that Google wants them to have.
The authoritativeness of a website determines whether it is the go-to source for a particular kind of information. This means that when it comes to your niche, your website has a reputation for providing reliable information, and readers come directly to you when they are looking for something in that domain.
Let’s consider information on things like getting a passport or driving license. In that case, Internet users would go straight to the relevant government website to get the information they need. So Google would be able to figure out quickly that these are authoritative sites on those topics.
But of course, we can’t set up government websites for the niches that we work in. So let’s take a look at an example from a different kind of site.
Here’s a page on an eCommerce website that Google considers highly authoritative. Why so? For starters, this is a bag made by the brand that is responsible for this website, and there is a ton of helpful product information in there.
To add to that, there are also a whopping 600 user reviews that have been included on the page. That is high-effort original content obtained from users and is a significant indicator of the authority of the webpage.
Google explicitly says that trustworthiness is the most important of the E-A-T factors. Basically, everything else they take into consideration is a way to figure out whether the content on your website can be trusted. Untrustworthy pages are given low scores even if they display expertise or authoritativeness.
Google’s search quality evaluators assess the trustworthiness of a site differently depending on the nature of the content. Here are a few pointers for different website types.
- Online stores: Websites with HTTPS, secure payment systems, and reliable customer service.
- Informational pages: Accurate information, credentialed author, highly authoritative content.
- eCommerce product pages: Clear information on the product and honest reviews that help make purchasing decisions.
Here’s a page that Google really trusts to achieve what it sets out to do. The main reason is that this website (Snopes) is one that has published a high volume of content in this area (fact-checking) and is considered an authoritative source of information in the space.
The combination of a positive reputation, a great deal of experience in the area, and authority are all green signals for trust. Anyone who publishes content on Google should strive to produce content that hits those marks.
How Google Evaluates E-A-T
One of the cornerstones of Google’s project to serve up the best content for every search term is its Search Quality Rater program. A Search Quality Rater is an individual who gives pages a Page Quality rating based on whether their content meets E-A-T guidelines and other factors like user experience and relevance.
Google assesses webpages of all kinds as part of this program, but “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) websites are given special attention. These are sites that can impact the health, safety, or finances of readers. So Google uses its page ratings to ensure that the content on YMYL pages can’t bring any harm to individuals or society at large.
Google’s search quality raters give pages scores based on the E-A-T guidelines we familiarized ourselves within the previous sections. The scale for the scores goes from Lowest to Highest. Pages that are given the Lowest score are deceptive or harmful to society, whereas those that are assigned the Highest score are very trustworthy and contain helpful information.
How to Optimize E-A-T on Your Website
Here are a few ways you can go about improving the E-A-T profile of your website.
Produce High-Quality Content
It is imperative to have a strong focus on creating content that is of high quality on your website. Your goal should be to ensure that people get the information that they need and that it is served up in a way that is easy to consume and comprehend.
Google expanded its focus on high-quality content with the 2022 Helpful Content Update. This update emphasizes the importance of original, helpful, and people-first content. These should become the cornerstones of your content strategy online.
In fact, Google has stated in its recent article that its focus is on quality content regardless of how it is produced. This has encouraged people to use AI content generators, like ChatGPT or Content at Scale, to scale their content faster.
Using AI content generators can do more than just help your website content. By using Benchmark Email, you can take advantage of our Smart Content feature powered by ChatGPT. Now, creating email content is easier than ever. Check it out by signing up for a free account.
Establish Author Credentials
As we saw earlier, trust is the most important part of the E-A-T triumvirate. And the easiest way to convey that a piece is trustworthy is by telling readers who the author is and what their credentials are.
Author pages and bios are the best way to make that happen. Make sure to include information that can help demonstrate experience in a particular area and link to sites that can help with that, such as LinkedIn, journal websites, etc.
A perfect example of this would be the author page around this article by Healthybeat, a nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle blog. The article is about home exercise equipment, and to demonstrate author credentials, the relevant background in personal training, work experience, and related publications by the same author have all been included on the author page.
Additionally, you might also consider hiring subject-matter experts to write for your website. This is a quick and easy way to boost your E-A-T score. If you can’t have them write the pieces outright, you could also have an expert review the content and mention them on the pages that they contribute to.
Build a Strong Reputation
Building trust and authority online is a lot like doing it in the real world. Once you build a reputation, it buttresses all of the content you produce, and it becomes a lot easier to boost your E-A-T ratings.
Now a good reputation hinges on several different things. You need to make sure you have a website that is easily crawlable and has a Google business profile. The next thing you should do is gather positive reviews on Google and make sure that you respond to all reviews.
Being active across different social media sites can also help build your reputation. These different social media pages serve to establish a coherent brand presence and show users different ways to consume your content.
This is why most brands will try and maintain a social media presence on several channels, even if it’s not the primary channel that the majority of their customer base uses. For example, this lockout tagout breaker lock manufacturer is unlikely to have a majority of its target audience on Instagram. Nevertheless, an Instagram presence demonstrates a strong reputation.
Improve on Technical SEO
A good SEO technique is relevant to enhancing your E-A-T score. You should ensure that you check off all the technical SEO checkboxes and run routine maintenance on your website.
Earning authoritative backlinks plays a big part in your SEO efforts. Good content is the foundation of any link-building project. You need to create content that is original, innovative, or helpful. Once you do, reach out to high-authority publications in your niche to see if they’d like to reference your content with a link.
Website schema is another piece of technical SEO that you should not overlook. Schema are pieces of microdata that web crawlers use to understand how your website is structured and to navigate its different parts. A good website scheme structure makes your website easy to crawl, and your content gets indexed on search engines quickly.
Google came up with its E-A-T metrics more than a decade ago, and it has only gained significance over time. While SEO is something marketers obsess over, not enough attention is paid to the E-A-T side of things.
The good news about E-A-T is that you can win half the battle by producing really great content. Google loves when websites create content that is backed by research and is helpful to users.
The rest of your focus should be on establishing the expertise of the authors on your website. Author pages, bios, and hiring experts all contribute to that. Once you get that right, you’ll be well on your way to creating a website that Google considers one of the most reliable ones in your niche.
Jeremy Noronha is a digital marketer and nomad who used internet marketing to leave home with a backpack at 18 and spent the past seven years traveling the world. He previously ran a travel blog and was Head of SEO at Foundr Magazine. He has been featured on and written for big names like Hubspot, Foundr, Fiverr, BigCommerce, and more. He now shares his insights about SEO and SaaS on his own site, jeremynoronha.com.