Publishing dependable and quality content is key to running a successful SEO campaign and boosting your company’s branding. But just as important as the content itself is its reliability. By demonstrating that your website and authors are reputable, you can potentially further improve your search ranking.
One of the concepts which Google uses to determine the quality of a website is E-A-T. Digital marketing agencies also often use E-A-T as a guide to create quality content. Read on to find out what E-A-T means, and how you can take advantage of it to potentially raise your ranking and website traffic.
1. What is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It is a concept discussed at length in Google’s Search Quality Evaluators’ Guidelines, as factors used to evaluate webpages. These guidelines were made principally for ‘raters’, individuals who manually rate the quality of individual webpages. Page quality is rated on a scale of “Lowest” to “Highest”.
These raters do not have a direct effect on the search ranking of websites, but their ratings are treated as ‘feedback’ for Google. In other words, the criteria that raters use likely serves as a guideline for how they want their algorithm to work.
While Google has been secretive about how exactly their algorithms work, some experts speculate that E-A-T plays a major role in determining page quality. Indeed, in its article “What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates”, Google itself has stated that “assessing your own content in terms of E-A-T criteria may help align it conceptually with the different signals that our automated systems use to rank content.”
2. How E-A-T is measured
No one knows for sure how E-A-T is measured algorithmically by Google. However, Google has given some clues about the qualities of a high E-A-T webpage in its Search Quality Evaluators’ Guidelines. Here are some of the properties of a high E-A-T page, which we have summarised:
- A satisfying amount of high-quality content, with a descriptive or helpful title.
- Sufficient information about the website or website owner, including customer service information for stores and websites involving financial transactions.
- A positive reputation of the content creator or website.
Google has also stated that Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages would be subjected to even higher page quality rating standards. YMYL pages are pages that “could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” These include sites that cover current events, health, finance, civics, and many others. Suffice to say, if you are creating any form of meaningful and informative content, your website probably falls under this category.
3. What contributes to your E-A-T?
Some experts have also tried to figure out additional qualities which Google uses to determine a webpage’s reliability. Here are some of the experts’ thoughts on how Google may be rating your webpage.
Linked & unlinked mentions
What better way to tell if a page is reliable than by seeing if other reliable pages mention it? Google has mentioned that a webpage’s E-A-T is largely based on its links and mentions on ‘authoritative sites’. An example of such sites is established press websites, which would need to have a high level of journalistic integrity.
Your company or webpage being mentioned by these websites could be advantageous for your E-A-T. However, not just any mention will do. Experts believe that Google can distinguish between mentions within genuine content, and those that are either paid for or self-made. They also believe that Google can tell the difference between contributors and actual authorities for the brand.
Google manually sets several ‘trusted’ sites, which it refers to as seed sites. These sites are determined to be trustworthy, and thus, more likely to link to high-quality pages on the Internet.
They are then treated as ‘hubs’, from which outgoing links, or mentions, are used to identify other relevant and quality pages. A Google patent mentions the Google Directory and The New York Times as examples of such seed sites.
Some experts also suggest that the selection of seed sites may have since evolved, such that high E-A-T sites become seed sites automatically, though this is merely speculation.
4. Why is E-A-T important?
Google has tried to align its algorithm to “what human beings would agree is great content as they would assess it according to the E-A-T criteria.” As such, E-A-T serves as a guideline for business owners to optimise their webpages and potentially increase their search engine ranking.
Besides the benefits for SEO, having high E-A-T can benefit your audience as well. As mentioned in the previous section, the content creator’s online reputation plays a significant role in determining E-A-T. Authors who lack actual experience in the topic of the content could be given a lower rating, compared to someone who is well-established in the industry. Similarly, an article written by an expert may be valued more by a potential lead, and be better at attracting your target audience.
5. How to improve your E-A-T
Now that you have a solid understanding of what E-A-T is and how it can benefit your company, you can explore the ways to improve your webpage’s E-A-T.
Demonstrate E-A-T on your website
Even though Google’s algorithm for measuring E-A-T mostly takes data from other pages, there are ways where you can improve trustworthiness on your own site. Starting from the About Us page, you can include a clear explanation of your company’s credentials and more elaboration on why potential clients should trust your company. Additionally, facts included in individual posts should be backed up by reliable references, if necessary.
Another simple way to boost E-A-T is by including author profiles on each post. This allows readers and the algorithm to assess the content’s credibility better. Author profiles should also be extensive, with details of their accolades and experience for the best results.
When giving their page ratings, raters are asked to look for reviews on third-party websites like Facebook. While it is unlikely that Google uses the scores on these sites to rank your website, the overall online sentiment may play a role in its assessment of the page’s quality.
That being said, a few odd negative reviews probably will not cause your rating to plummet. Google likely takes a large collection of information from various sources to judge your site’s trustworthiness. If your company receives a large volume of positive reviews on most sites, your webpage will probably still have decent E-A-T.
Mentions on authoritative sites
As the “A” in E-A-T, authoritativeness is crucial to improving your page’s search ranking. Getting authoritative seed sites to mention you or the content authors can help to improve your site’s perceived authority.
Wikipedia is one of the probable seed sites, given how often it is mentioned in the Search Quality Evaluators’ Guidelines. Having your company mentioned in other relevant pages could assist in E-A-T, so long as it is not perceived as being for self-promotional purposes. Of course, it would be best for your company to have a Wikipedia page of its own, but that can be challenging with their strict standards on notability.
Getting mentioned on other seed sites without incentivising it can sometimes be difficult. However, you can try to attract mentions indirectly by creating engaging and original content. These may include original research pieces or highly informative articles. You could also make connections with authorities in your field, such that they may be more inclined to promote your brand naturally.
6. How else can you improve your page quality?
Google’s Search Quality Evaluators’ Guidelines gives insights into other features of good and bad quality pages. These may not relate directly to E-A-T but are no doubt complementary to their assessment of a page’s overall quality. As such, it is likely they also have implications on a website’s SEO. Here are some pointers to take note of when optimising your website content:
- Ensure that the main content is of high quality.
- Include a satisfying amount of main content for the page’s purposes.
- Make sure the main content has a reasonable title that is not exaggerated or shocking.
- Include only non-intrusive ads that do not distract from the main content.
E-A-T and SEO go hand-in-hand. With high-quality, reliable content, and an adequate amount of mentions from authoritative websites, your company’s search engine ranking could see improvements. More importantly, potential leads would perceive your company as trustworthy and be more likely to become conversions.
For further advice and assistance on optimising your website for E-A-T and SEO, you can contact an established digital marketing agency. They can provide the resources and expertise necessary to run your company’s digital marketing campaign.