Google unveiled another algorithm update in 2018 called the Medic Update, ensuring higher search rankings for websites with relevant and trustworthy content. It was then that marketers understood the importance of the E-A-T factors in obtaining high rankings for their sites. Since then, it’s been on the minds of every SEO and marketer.
What Is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, Trust. Google uses them as a shorthand in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. As Google trains its algorithm entirely based on Artificial Intelligence, we must produce reputable content to achieve the E-A-T factors for our site.
Before getting into E-A-T in detail, it is essential to know what MC stands for. Main Content simply refers to a page’s primary piece of content–it is the focal point of a page. For example, on a YouTube page, the MC is considered to be the video. On a social media platform, the main content would be the newsfeed.
For all pages to be of benefit, it is necessary to ensure the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the creator on the website. A high-quality writer with a high-quality website makes the best combo to attain high ranking. Google considers the E-A-T factors for both the content and the author.
Expertise refers to the author of the content. Someone is said to be an expert when he/she is very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area. Your knowledge should be conveyed in a way to engage your audience–you need to know what your audience wants, how to best communicate it and deliver.
Authority refers to the author of the content and the content itself. Being a specialist is great but that’s just the start. When other experts or influencers in your space are referring to you as a source or when your name becomes synonymous with relevant subjects, you are not only an expert — you’re an authority. Reviews, testimonials, and credentials also add to an author’s authority as do links from relevant sites and mentions.
Trust simply means that the content must be trustworthy. Essentially your site visitors should be able to trust the content on your site. Things like site security, clear contact information, policies, and reviews all help to build trust with your audience.
Trustworthiness is particularly important for eCommerce businesses. Everything about your website should make users feel that their information is safe. Having a secure domain (HTTPS) is an effective way to build trust immediately with a visitor. That padlock icon next to a URL tells a user that their data won’t be intercepted by a third party.
What does YMYL stand for?
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sites are defined as “types of pages [that] could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.” Examples of these sites are pages that request personal information that could be used for identify theft, pages that allows you to buy something, pages offering medical information, or pages offering advice on major life decisions (buying property, legal advice, etc).
At the end of the day, the stakes are high for YMYL content. Google takes this kind of content very seriously since any bad advice or inaccurate and untruthful could affect a person’s livelihood and wellbeing.
The Relationship Between YMYL and E-A-T
E-A-T criteria are more vital for YMYL sites. Experts with relevant experience need to write YMYL content–low quality content could negatively affect a person’s happiness, health, financial stability or safety. If your site falls under any of the YMYL categories previously mentioned, you are subject to higher Page Quality standards and so you need to ensure that your pages contain the highest levels of E-A-T.
Here are things you can do to improve Google E-A-T rating:
1. Create Quality Content
Your content needs to show expertise and authority and should establish trust. This starts with knowing your audience and understanding their needs. High-quality content is expert and user-focused content and should match user intent, meaning that when a user lands on your page, it needs to match their search query. Every page on your website needs to have a purpose, needs the right expertise, and needs to provide value to the user. Avoid “thin” content and ensure it is well-written and organized. If your content is unique, even better. Tailor your content to your readers to help set it apart from others.
2. Include Author Name and Credentials
Adding the name and credentials of the content author will help to establish credibility. A user should feel comfortable taking action based on what they read on a page. A bio or “About” section (such as the example above) for an author or website should feature qualifications, awards, certifications, profile pictures, titles, contact info, etc. These trust signals are what add authenticity to a page and help to establish trust with your audience. Adding an author bio also provides a human element to your content.
3. Reputation Management
There’s a high possibility that your prospects look at reviews of your organization before making a decision. These reviews may affect somebody’s purchasing choices, but they can also affect your Google quality rating.
The Google Search Quality Guidelines state that “popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation.” So it is necessary to pay attention to all channels where customers can write reviews and share feedback. It will also help to build a strong impression on your customers if you could provide excellent service and respond to the customers.
4. Remove Website Technical Errors
Trustworthiness is about reputation, accuracy, and security. Broken links or other errors hurt the user experience, your reputation and any SEO efforts. Ensure that you consistently check your pages for errors, broken links and most importantly, that you have a secure domain with an SSL certificate!
5. Make it Easy for Users to Contact you
Have a clear way for users to contact you. Include a physical location and a phone number. Adding these details establishes trust with your audience as it gives them a way to contact a real human. Add an ‘About Us’ page on your site–this further helps to humanize your brand and it’s an opportunity to tell your story and introduce your staff.
There are no shortcuts to build E-A-T. It takes time, effort, and patience but the good news is that once you build a positive online presence and achieve a high E-A-T, it’ll be hard to lose your Google ranking!