E-A-T-Seo

How the E-A-T Principles Will Set You up for Business Success Online

E-A-T-Seo

If you’ve been searching for a way to create content that Google actually wants, well, Google has given you a direct answer that will help set your business up for digital success – E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). 

You may have seen the buzz-acronym “E-A-T” online since Google’s algorithm update in August 2018 – dubbed the “Medic Update” by SEM journalist Barry Schwartz as it impacted many websites offering health and medical advice at the time.

The Medic Update also knocked sites categorised by Google as “YMYL sites” (Your Money Your Life). This is a quality rating for content that has a direct impact on users’ “happiness, health, or wealth.”

This is why it’s important to create informative and educated content; i.e. website content that won’t impact searchers’ well-being negatively. Google recommends sites if they display a high-level of expertise, authority and trustworthiness (E-A-T).

The point is: 

  • Over many years, Google has developed several guides on how they differentiate high-quality content from low-quality content, and how this can impact your website rankings and overall business success online.
  • But today, building your website’s ‘expertise, authority and trustworthiness plays a vital role in nurturing your branding and increasing its ranking performance.

Read further to find out how you can use the Google E-A-T principles to develop high-quality web pages that will set up your business for online success.

What is E-A-T?

In SEO, E-A-T is an acronym which stands for:

Expertise

This is essentially the ‘creator’ of the main content on the page. 

Although it’s important to consider the creator’s expertise, qualifications and credentials, Google has made an exception for creators to “experts” if they have enough life experience in particular topics

Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness refers to the content, the main content creator and the website.

If you want ‘authority’, ensure that people know you as leaders in your industry and know your background.

Trustworthiness

Like authoritativeness, trustworthiness also refers to the content, the main content creator and the website.

As in life, presenting ‘trust’ on a website means showing you are a reliable source that only provides honest and accurate information.

How Important is E-A-T?

The E-A-T concept has become an important element in SEO, as it has a direct impact on Google rankings which, in turn, can affect website traffic and conversions.

In February 2019, Google confirmed that E-A-T is a very important part of their algorithms:

In August 2019, they also advised that if your site has been negatively affected by core algorithm updates, then you should probably “get to know the quality rater guidelines & E-A-T”.

Since the update, we’ve seen many sites being negatively affected due to a lack of E-A-T. 

At the same time, we’ve also seen improvements in website rankings, performance and traffic after helping many sites with an E-A-T revamp. 

E-A-T is essential to helping webmasters understand what Google looks for in web pages and that it is of quality through E-A-T – something which Google explains in great detail in their Quality Rater Guidelines.

Is your Site Based on YMYL (Your Money Your Life)?

Does your site speak to readers’:

  • Happiness?
  • Health?
  • Safety?
  • Finances?
  • Life?

If you answered “yes” to at least one of these, then optimising your site to include the necessary Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness is VERY important. 

This is simply because these topics can have a direct impact on readers’ well-being and livelihood. 

In these cases, Google will not tolerate any site content that presents inaccurate, fraudulent, uneducated or misleading information.

What constitutes YMYL sites according to Google includes:

  • Government, law and civics-related topics – voting, social services, legal issues, government bodies, etc.
  • Financial advice – taxes, retirement, investments, loans, etc.
  • Shopping information – researching purchases, etc.
  • Hobbies – photography, playing piano, gaming, etc
  • Medical advice – information on drugs, hospitals, emergencies, etc.
  • Information on people – of a particular ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, sexuality, etc.
  • Advice pages – parenting, office refurbishment, etc.
  • E-commerce or any site taking credit card transactions.
  • And many more.

Setting your Business up for Online Success with E-A-T

1) Page authors are key

This cannot be emphasised enough. It’s extremely important that the author of the page content or website content has expertise on the topic. 

Unless they have life experience on the topic, avoid getting content written from a random journalist or content writer. 

Think about it: if you need some advice about a foot injury, are you going to read a random article written by a content writer, or would you prefer reading an article written by someone who has been a podiatrist treating foot injuries for years and is qualified in that field?

Of course, anyone would prefer the latter. And just as you would prefer, Google would like to provide you with articles written by authors who are legitimate experts in their niche. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Every author on your site should have a complete author bio letting users know why they’re qualified to write on particular subjects – list all!
  • For greater detail, each author should have their own full author bio page displaying their expertise in their field to build up online authority and in turn, increase rankings for the author’s articles. 
  • Implement author schema. This will give Google sufficient info on your authors.

2) Get mentions on authoritative sites

If you want an authoritative boost, you’ve got to be more than just an expert. 

In fact, what you want is other experts citing the information on your web pages; up to the point where your site or name becomes immediately well-known with relevant industry topics to users.

Scoring a mention or link by incentivising the site owner in any way, such as by paying for the link or providing sponsored content, won’t get you anywhere in terms of authority. 

It’s only when you are being legitimately cited, such as by recommendation, that your authority on the particular topic will rise.

But don’t think you can fool Google either. Remember:

  1. Both linked and unlinked mentions are measured – Google and human quality checkers are able to determine which linked and unlinked mentions to count; for example, by looking at the amount of buzz circulating around your company and simple paid content. 
  2. Google knows which mentions to trust – despite many blackhat SEO’s getting away with ranking sites using Private Blog Networks (PBNs), an updated Penguin algorithm released in September 2016 has been designed to ignore links that are not from trusted sources and only take into account trusted links from authoritative sites that pass PageRank.

It’s therefore important to become recognised online as an authority in your field to have good E-A-T.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Connect with known authorities in your field in person at a conference or through an online discussion. This is a much better way to get natural links on their site instead of spamming them with promotional emails.
  • Summarise industry research – which are generally filled with jargon – into layman’s terms to attract links.
  • Publishing content based on your own original research will often get you links from authoritative sites looking to reference reliable sources.
  • If you’re unsure of how to gauge your authority and trustworthiness, the Majestic ‘trust ratio’ score is something to bookmark. If you get a score close to 1.0, then things are going pretty well for you.
  • Create traction around your content pieces by getting it shared widely and genuinely across the social media of authoritative sites.
  • Get your brand name out there on authoritative sites as much as possible. If your brand is being searched with a relevant keyword attached to it, then that’s amazing news for your brand authority in your niche.

3) Ensure all info is trustworthy

It’s one thing to optimise your site and say you’ve added trustworthiness, and actually having PROVEN trustworthiness.

Lack of trust can easily tank your rankings and make you suffer on Google. These can be having negative business reviews online, articles with zero authoritative references and many more. 

This is why it’s important to respond to negative reviews, any you may have on Google My Business or social media, before Google associates negativity with your brand due to ‘low quality’.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Always ensure your website’s domain is secure with the HTTPS protocol by purchasing an SSL certificate.
  • Have a Terms and Conditions page, as well as a Privacy Policy page that is accessible to all your website visitors. If you have an e-commerce site accepting online transactions, add a Refunds and Returns Policies section to your Terms and Conditions page, or create a separate page for it.
  • Make your business’s physical location clear to users.
  • Make it clear on how users can contact the owner of the site or business.
  • If you have an e-commerce site, ensure that each product you’re selling includes detailed, transparent descriptions.
  • If you’re sharing an article, don’t forget to reference and add links to external authoritative sites as well as include the author’s biography – bonus points if the author is an authority within the topic industry!

4) Build good reviews

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Build good reviews around your brand. 

Having positive reviews on places like Google My Business, Trustpilot, Yelp, Facebook and so on are really important. 

According to John Mueller from Google, although Google doesn’t directly use “ratings from third party sites in their algorithm”, quality raters are still informed to look at the public sentiment regarding your business online.

Users only know the ‘reality’ side of your business through real customer experiences, and so does Google and their quality raters. 

If Google’s algorithm picks up that you have 50 positive written reviews and 4 or 5-star ratings, you’re likely to receive a boost in brand trust – not only by Google but also by new customers seeking a reliable, trustworthy business that sells the product or service they’re looking for.

Having positive reviews is therefore a major factor in increasing the trust of your site. Not to mention, you’ll also gain authority above your competitors and eventually, industry. This can score you a high ranking position on SERPs for relevant keywords.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Resolve negative reviews with positive responses indicating your solution to the problem.
  • Build positive reviews by requesting feedback from happy customers following their experience with your business.
  • Keep customers happy at all times!
  • Ensure your website provides a seamless user experience.

5) Create a Wikipedia page or get a Wiki article mention 

It’s not easy to build a page about your business on Wikipedia. Generally, only reputable, notable and highly-authoritative businesses are able to do this. Though, we have to consider taking into account that Wikipedia is mentioned excessively in the Google Quality Raters Guidelines. 

Since it’s hard to fake authority, getting a mention on Wikipedia can be slightly easier.

Although Wikipedia links are nofollow links that don’t pass PageRank, being mentioned on a large authoritative site goes a long way with improving your E-A-T score. 

Wikipedia allows you to edit articles to add mentions. But, you also need to be careful about being promotional about your mention as the Wiki community will pick up and remove it almost instantly.

Here’s what you need to do:

6) Build a presence on forums

Sometimes you see a question on an online forum or community page, like “where can I get the best burger in Melbourne CBD?”. And while believing that you’re the best burger joint in town, someone responds with a mention to your competitor and maybe even attaches your competitor’s online menu. And on top of that, the response receives many upvotes. This can be extremely frustrating.

If users are rambling about your competitors on forums contributing to E-A-T, such as TripAdvisor, Reddit and alike, you definitely want to try to make waves on these forums for yours. 

Google is, however, able to determine artificial mentions from authentic mentions. Their algorithm and quality raters are also able to determine the public sentiment surrounding your brand to gather whether you’re an authority in your industry or not.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Ensure that the chatter you create on authoritative forums are real and natural. 
  • Don’t spam forums with links to your site, articles, webpages or review links!
  • If there are negative discussions taking place, jump in with a solution.
  • If there are questions you’re able to answer using your expertise on the topic, jump in and get your brand known.

7) Create content that is user-focused and engaging

Content that is user-focused and engaging is valued as high-quality content by Google that deserves to be ranked. 

When creating content, it’s important to understand how to communicate the topic in a way that will engage readers. The best way to do this is by knowing what your audience wants, and find a balance between adding comprehensive insight and keeping it simple.

Now, that’s what we’re all aiming for. But, it’s the little, yet significant, aspects we need to bare in mind when writing a piece of content which can aid our website’s E-A-T.

The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines play an important role in figuring out how to create high-quality, rankable content. In here, you’ll find three crucial requisites:

  1. E-A-T – every page must have expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
  2. Beneficial Purpose – every page must have a purpose that must be achieved to the user’s benefit.
  3. YMYL – every page on the YMYL site must have the highest E-A-T possible, due to its direct impact on users’ lives, livelihood and/or happiness.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Find out what your audience is searching for and their search intent.
  • Understand your audience’s decision-making process, and guide them through it logically and sequentially.
  • Use layman’s terms along with enough understandable jargon to showcase your expertise in the industry.
  • Use text formatting that is easy to read and follow.
  • Readers love visual content! Get creative with videos, images or audio. This will help readers to understand content piece by the end without it feeling tedious.
  • What are searchers asking Google? Create content answering search queries in your industry and become a reliable source info.

E-A-T Takeaways

By now you should know that in order to truly set up your business for online success, you need to do all that you can to present E-A-T across your entire website; especially if it is a YMYL site.

Google has implemented E-A-T to essentially protect users from false or inaccurate information that could have a direct impact on their lives, livelihood, health and/or happiness.

What makes E-A-T vital to the online success of any business is that it has become an essential ranking factor.

Google measures the E-A-T of websites using things beyond the presence of authoritative links. These include unlinked mentions on authoritative sites, the quality of your on-page content, using quality raters to determine whether a business has a good or bad reputation, determining the presence of positive reviews and mentions on forums, the authenticity and trustworthiness of mentions and links, and many more. 

All of these contribute to whether you have the proven expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness for Google to rank your site in SERPs. 

And if your site is not ranking high enough to receive floods of traffic, chances are that your business will receive little to no business success online.

Following the E-A-T principles provided by Google will not only improve your site’s SEO and content strategy but also steer your business to online success by ranking highly for targeted search terms in your industry. 

You’ll also become industry leaders in terms of brand trust and become positioned above your competitors.

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