What Is E.A.T. In SEO and Why Does It Matter?
How important is EAT in SEO (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
We know that for most businesses, SEO is one of the biggest, most important marketing trends today. You can expect that SEO will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Almost all digital marketing practices lead to SEO since it essentially encompasses everything—from creating high-quality content to improving the user experience (UX), to building an effective internal linking structure.
If you have been following the changes in Google’s algorithms and guidelines, you have likely come across or heard of E.A.T. at least once. This concept has been around for several years now. It started in 2014 but it continues to grow in relevance, even in 2022. If you want to build a robust online presence and increase your search rankings, you must understand EAT in SEO and how it works.
So to help you out, here is a guide to help you get acquainted with Google’s E.A.T. concept so you can improve your SEO strategy and develop content that will rank high on search results pages.
What is E.A.T?
First things first. Exactly what is it? Google introduced this concept in their Search Quality Rater Guidelines back in 2014 to assess the quality of their search results. The search engine evaluates a website’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness on three levels:
- The Content
- The Creator
- And the Website
To start, these simple three letters is essentially an abbreviation that stands for three things:
Expertise means you possess a high level of knowledge on a particular topic. Google wants to make sure you provide truthful and valuable content to readers, so this factor evaluates whether the content creator is an expert in the subject matter. The meaning of “expertise” can vary based on the nature of your content.
Google looks for content that demonstrates “everyday expertise” and real-life experiences for topics that do not require much technical expertise. For example, if you were writing a restaurant review or ideas for DIY projects at home, you need not have formal education about the topic. What matters is you have relevant and adequate experience to offer to readers.
However, other topics are more serious, which Google calls Your Money or Your Life (YMYL). This abbreviation refers to matters impacting a person’s health, safety, finances, and happiness. Since these topics bear more significant weight on readers, Google assesses the content creator’s formal education and expertise.
Say, for example, you wanted to learn more about the current health and wellness best practices. In that case, Google will put more value on a topic written by experts like doctors, scientists, and nutritionists, rather than an everyday person.
Quick guideline for improving your websites E.A.T. score (Google):
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
Authoritativeness refers to your site’s authority and reputation, which Google evaluates based on the number of brand-mentioned backlinks that direct to your web pages. The idea is to position yourself as a reputable information provider on a particular subject, so when users need information on that topic, they will go to your site.
Other ways to assess Authoritativeness will be through customer sentiments and web insights. Some useful references include reviews, news articles, PR articles, expert recommendations, and other similar sources that can clue you in on a site’s credibility. Forbes, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and CDC are just some popular authoritative sites you can reference online.
Ultimately, your goal is to make your website recognized as an authority figure in your industry or topic. Google puts a premium on sites with high authority, so you can rank better if you improve in this aspect.
Finally, Trustworthiness is self-explanatory but essential for EAT in SEO. Trustworthiness talks about how well users trust your site and content. One way to increase Trustworthiness will be to secure your site domain (https) that protects users’ information and privacy. The last thing you want is to fall prey to cyber attacks like data breaches and hacks that can severely damage or weaken the users’ trust.
Reviews also play a vital role in this factor. Positive reviews will make Google and users feel more inclined to trust you, whereas too many negative reviews will lead to poor customer perception. When this happens, Google will notice and lower your search rankings, making it essential to maintain a positive reputation online.
Much like Expertise, Trustworthiness is vital for YMYL sites due to the impact their content can have on readers. Thus, for such sites, it helps to include a page or section on who creates your content to give users more reason to trust them. You can also cite trustworthy sources like research and studies to include factual information in your content.
Pages with the following characteristics are immediately considered Untrustworthy:
- Inadequate information about the website and its purpose
- Deceptive purpose, deceptive design, or deceptive intent
- Deliberately obstructed or obscured main content
- Suspected malicious behavior
What are Search Quality Raters and How Do They Work?
Search quality raters are individuals who evaluate search results and give feedback to Google engineers about specific search queries that they believe are either missing relevant results or that contain relevant but lower quality results. The guidelines are a set of rules that raters must follow when evaluating search results. Raters should determine if the content they are evaluating is low, medium or high quality. If the content is low quality, then the page should receive a low rating. If the content is high quality, then the page should receive a high rating. If the content is medium quality, then the page should receive a medium rating.
Quality raters use guidelines provided directly from Google to evaluate the quality of search results. These guidelines focus on areas that help users find what they want. The guidelines also provide information on how to avoid search results that lead to poor user experience. Furthermore, the guidelines provide examples of high-quality search results and results that lead to a poor user experience. (Remember that the goal of a search engine is to deliver the best results for the user.)
Why EAT In SEO Matters
Now that you understand the three main components that make up Google’s E.A.T., the question is how does this relate to SEO. To put it simply, showing that your site and content score well in this area can increase your rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google is highly selective about the pages it displays to users, so the search engine wants to provide the most relevant information for all searches. Therefore, if Google sees that your site is Trustworthy, has good Authority, and includes Expertise from knowledgable experts, it will bump up your rankings so more users can find you.
If you are up-to-date with all the changes in Google’s algorithm, you have likely noticed that they have been emphasizing the User Experience (UX) more and more recently. The addition of the Core Web Vitals in their page experience ranking factors is just one way that they have shown this emphasis. With Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, Google is essentially evaluating the quality of your web pages.
Naturally, incorporating EAT in SEO so that your website does well in all three aspects will give you more leverage over your competitors in your online space. While E.A.T. is not technically a ranking factor that can be measured, it will affect how you rank on SERPs. So if SEO is at the top of your digital marketing priorities, you need to start paying more attention and incorporate more EAT in SEO.
How to Optimize for E.A.T.
So, how do you optimize for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness? Truthfully, improving these areas can be tricky since the three components are not necessarily quantifiable like your Core Web Vitals. However, what is clear is that it is all about creating a reputable site that delivers valuable content to users, so this is what you can work towards.
Here are some steps you can take to incorporate more EAT in SEO:
- Audit Your Content
- Audit Your Brand
- Improve Transparency
- Show Your Credentials
- Build More High Quality Backlinks
- Add or Improve Your Contact Info
- Collect & Respond to Reviews
- Make Your Site Secure
- Create High Quality Content
- Develop Original Content
- Promote Off-Site
- Avoid Spammy Content
Audit Your Content
If your site is already up and running for a while, the first logical thing to do would be to audit your existing content. Review your pages to see if they meet the E.A.T. standards and determine if you should update or delete them. Another alternative would be to combine content from different but similar pages to make your one article more valuable.
Given how fast-paced today’s world is, facts may change from time to time. Thus, a blog article you may have written five years ago may already be outdated or worse, obsolete. If the content is merely outdated, you can refresh it and pack it with more value. However, consider deleting it from your roster if you feel like the article no longer has value since it is not contributing to your traffic anymore.
Auditing your website content can be a bit intimidating, but the process is much easier than you may think. There are many services that do manual content audits for a fee, but these services can be costly. A much more affordable solution is to use an automated audit tool that can tell you which pages are missing certain key elements. By using an audit tool, you can easily analyze your content, making it easier to focus on the important parts of your content and increasing your website’s overall quality.
To guide you through your content audits, check out these tips to help you determine what to do with your existing content:
- Double check your keywords to see if they are still relevant and high-volume
- Identify pages with thin content and delete or add more information to them
- Read up on the latest statistics to see if your content holds true
- Maintain transparency on when you published and updated the content
- Check for grammatical errors and formatting issues
Audit Your Brand
While content plays a huge role in E.A.T., your overall brand is just as important. So aside from auditing your old content, you also need to audit your brand and how customers perceive it. The more people that trust your brand and want to associate themselves with it, the better it will be for your SEO efforts. For example, if people constantly mention your brand or link to your site, Google will take note of this in your favor.
Brand audit is an analysis and deep understanding of your current brand positioning that the market perceives. It usually includes a study of all aspects of your current image, message, and products. Brand audit helps in correcting mistakes, improving your marketing strategies and avoid making the same mistakes again. The audit should include all organizational elements, human and computer systems as well as users.
To audit your brand, start by searching up your company online to see what results come out. For example, how visible are your web pages and social media accounts? Are there third-party websites or publications that talk about your brand? If yes, do they offer positive sentiments? You can identify possible gaps with your brand presence and perception by asking yourself these questions.
Ultimately, you want to hit all three components, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness to position your brand as in the best possible light.
Transparency and credibility are becoming increasingly important in online business’. One of the significant ways to boost both is by providing client references. Your potential customers want reassurance that you’re a credible business. Giving your client-references leads to trust, and trust leads to sales. But how do you get and keep those extra clients? You can’t just ask for a client reference. Rather, you must be proactive in offering client references as a way to help prospects understand your credibility.
Transparency is a key attribute in Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines, so you want to make sure that you are open and honest about the content you post. By being transparent with your information and practices, site visitors and Google will trust you more. To improve EAT in SEO, here are some ways you can improve transparency:
- Include the author’s name in all your articles and provide information about them to demonstrate expertise
- Write an About Us section in your site to talk about how your organization came to be
- Add a Meet the Team page or place this info in your About Us page
- Structure content to keep the most important information in the upper part of web pages
As you can see, these recommendations allow you to connect more deeply with users. By showing the face behind the brand and talking about your history and how long you have been operating, users are more likely to feel comfortable interacting with your business.
Show Your Credentials
In connection to the previous tip, showing your credentials is another great way to increase transparency and verify your Expertise. Now, more than ever, you need to show and prove that the people behind your site and content are credible professionals. There is no need to be shy about this, as Google will consider your qualifications when evaluating E.A.T.
The first place to display your credentials would be your author bio. In fact, make sure you also do these for any other authors on your site, so your content is more legitimate. Then, you can also include these credentials in your About Us or Meet the Team page to highlight the experts working behind the scenes for the business.
Some things you can highlight in your bio include formal education and past work experience. It also helps to talk about awards and accomplishments you might have won over the years. Of course, while you want to sound credible and trustworthy to readers and Google, you have to be truthful. Do not exaggerate your credentials. Simply stick to the facts.
Build More High-Quality Backlinks
Increasing your backlinks is a highly effective way to include EAT in SEO. Backlinks essentially refer to the links that point back to your site. Hence, the more high quality third-party sites and experts that mention your brand, the better for your SEO.
Backlinks gain weight only if they are coming from a website that has authority. The more authoritative a site is, the more weight or value it will give to a link. So that site should provide an amazing content, be on a high PR site, and have the most relevant pages to your backlinks. And don’t forget to always use targeted and engaging anchor text, an excerpt of the content or a URL.
Of course, in doing this, you must prioritize quality over quantity. Google is not just looking for sites with the most backlinks but sites with the most backlinks from reputable people. The best way to achieve this is by creating valuable content that is worth sharing. Here are some strategies that can help you attract more high quality links:
- Create infographics and other visual content
- Publish timely content to target authoritative news sites
- Reach out to other sites and bloggers
- Publish research and case studies
- Develop evergreen content
- Get featured in high-quality websites
Add or Update Contact Information
The more contact information you have available, the better. Many businesses overlook the importance of contact details, but these are critical since they serve as the link between you and potential customers. At the very least, you should have your contact number, email, and address. If applicable, you can also add your social media accounts.
Naturally, you need to put your contact information somewhere visible. For example, if you have a Google My Business listing, you can add the details while creating your listing. Just make sure you update it if needed. Aside from this, you should also have a Contact Us page on your site, so users can quickly check how they can get in touch with you.
Contact information will be particularly important for YMYL pages since customers want to make sure they can ask for help if they run into issues. For example, banks and healthcare facilities should always have their customer service information ready in case of customer concerns.
Collect and Respond to Reviews
Online reviews are critical to gaining trust and building credibility. Users today rely on the Internet to learn about new businesses, but before they commit to any, they read reviews to see if you can be trusted. Statistics show that 72% of customers use Google reviews to find businesses, while 34% say that they always read online reviews when shopping.
Given this, it always helps to collect reviews for your products or services. Whether it be through Google or other reputable sites like Facebook and Yelp, your reviews on these platforms will help position your company in a better light.
Of course, it is equally important that you respond to your customers’ reviews to show that you care about their sentiments. Even negative reviews should be given the same attention since your response will show that you want to improve and fix a customer’s issues with your company.
Make Your Site Secure
As part of your efforts to improve Trustworthiness, it is essential that you take extra steps to keep your site secure.
If this is your first time creating a website, start by installing an SSL certificate to encrypt your data. An SSL certificate is a security technology that guarantees that the information being sent between your computer and the server is encrypted. This prevents other parties who might be able to intercept your information, such as hackers or identity thieves. Likewise, you should use HTTPS on your server to have a more secure connection. Other ways to improve site security include:
- Enhance login security with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication
- Create a regular backup schedule as a precaution for potential hacks
- Update your software regularly
- Provide different access levels to employees
- Test your site from time to time to check for error messages and redirections
Create High-Quality Content
This tip may sound like a generic recommendation, but the truth is that great content will result in good EAT in SEO. Ultimately, your goal is to deliver information that users want, so you need to pay attention to users’ search intent. Get to know the main questions people ask on the Internet and write quality articles that answer them thoroughly.
Posting high-quality content on your site and linking to other, more authoritative sources can get you a lot of traffic. You need to do your research, though, and know how to spot fake or unreliable content. To do this, you’ll need to do your research and check the sources of the stories and articles you find online. If you find that a site is reposting articles from questionable sources, you could also look at its social media presence. One way to check credibility is to look at the site’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Are they both frequently updated and do they have many followers? If so, it’s likely that the site’s content is popular. A website that gets updated only occasionally and has few followers is probably less credible.
If you lack the time or manpower for content development, consider hiring experts to help you out. As emphasized in the Expertise section, Google puts a higher value on content written by experts with the proper credentials in the subject matter. Thus, investing in experts’ written content will be worth it, especially if you are trying to pioneer YMYL topics.
Develop Original Content
Writing original content is another excellent way to improve your EAT in SEO. Original content may include case studies and research conducted by your team. Essentially, it refers to content that can only be found on your site. It will help build trust and credibility and attract more backlinks.
No matter what your main subject matter is, originality should be part of your content marketing strategy. As they always say, content is king. And having original content gives you an edge over competitors since you have unique and fresh ideas.
If you have a service business, case studies will be helpful to show how your services have helped other clients. When writing these, make sure you highlight the results of each project. As for product businesses, you can do surveys or research to analyze customer buying behavior or find similar insights.
Promoting your website outside is just as important as improving the on-page factors. With all the efforts you put into designing your site and developing great content, you naturally want to attract as many people as possible. Thus, it also helps to engage in promotional efforts to boost your online exposure.
Here are tips on how you can promote your brand offsite to improve EAT in SEO and gain a stronger following online:
- Boost your social media presence. Engage with your audience through your social media accounts and share content on your platforms. Word can travel quickly in social networks, so if you have good content that is worth sharing, this will easily reach your target audience.
- Reach out to the press. Press coverage is always helpful to advertise your business and put your name out there. One way to reach out would be to look for journalists who can feature your business in their press releases. Similarly, you can invite bloggers to try out your products or services, so that they can write about you.
- Interview Experts. Expertise is the first component of E.A.T., so one way to strengthen this is by interviewing experts. Find people with formal education and qualifications in your field and write about the interview. Google will appreciate this and likely increase your search ranks.
Watch Out for Spammy Content
Poor SEO practices can cause your content to appear spammy, which negatively impacts your brand. Too much spammy content can decrease your authority since it is low-quality and offers no real value to readers. Thus, you have to watch out for these when writing or reviewing your articles.
Keyword stuffing is a common practice that can turn your content spammy. While there is no fixed rule on how often you should use a keyword in your articles, many experts have said that the ideal keyword density is around 1-2%. However, when writing content, you should focus more on writing something valuable for your readers, then the keywords come next. This way, you organically incorporate the keywords instead of forcing them into your sentences.
While it has been eight years since Google first came up with Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, the concept remains relevant today. Improving E.A.T. is important for SEO since it allows you to rank higher, compounding to other benefits like increased organic traffic and conversions. With the guide above, you should get a better idea of what EAT in SEO is and how to optimize your website for it.
In 2022, the online space will continue to grow more competitive as more and more businesses transition into the digital space. Thus, gearing up your SEO strategy will be critical, and part of this includes improving your website’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
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