In the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization (SEO), staying ahead is essential for maintaining and improving your website’s visibility. Since the introduction of Google’s Medic Update in 2018, one term has dominated the SEO conversation: E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
This concept reshaped the SEO landscape, impacting health and medical websites, as well as businesses across various industries, from SaaS to e-commerce to automotive and beyond.
Now, Google has raised the higher stakes by introducing another “E” into the mix, creating the formidable acronym “E-E-A-T.” The question on every SEO strategist’s mind is: what exactly does E-E-A-T entail, and how does it affect your website’s ability to attract and maintain organic traffic?
This comprehensive guide will delve deep into E-E-A-T SEO, dissecting its meaning and exploring its implications for your website’s online performance. Let’s dive in and uncover the essence of E-E-A-T and how it can shape your website’s destiny in the digital realm.
What is Google E-E-A-T in SEO?
E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) is a fundamental aspect of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. The Search Quality Rater Guidelines are guidelines that Google uses to evaluate the quality of search results.
These guidelines serve as a reference for real people known as Quality Raters, who assess the quality of search results. The raters’ feedback helps Google improve its algorithm and deliver users the best search results. Their input plays a crucial role in assisting Google to evaluate the effectiveness of its algorithm updates.
Experts create websites with solid E-E-A-T characteristics that are authoritative, trustworthy, and informative. They have the knowledge and experience to write about their topics and have a good reputation in their field, with support from other high-quality websites.
It’s important to note that E-E-A-T itself is not a direct ranking factor. Yet, Google emphasises delivering search results with strong E-E-A-T characteristics. As a result, E-E-A-T is a pivotal concept in SEO.
Moreover, optimizing your E-E-A-T can yield significant benefits, such as increased user trust, conversions, and performance. Elevating your E-E-A-T can enhance user trust, increase conversions and improve performance.
Also, Google updates its Search Quality Rater Guidelines once a year. Here is a brief timeline of key developments related to Google’s E-E-A-T:
Google releases its Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
Google introduces E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) as an essential component of these guidelines, underlining its importance.
Google expands on the concept, unveiling E-E-A-T by adding an extra “E” to signify the significance of the user Experience.
Breakdown of E-E-A-T
Indeed, we’ve touched upon the meanings behind the E-E-A-T acronym. It’s worth noting that Google places the utmost importance on trustworthiness, deeming it the primary factor. Google evaluates a website’s trustworthiness by considering its experience, expertise, and authoritativeness.
With that understanding in mind, let’s comprehensively explore each of the four components that constitute E-E-A-T.
Google’s addition of ‘Experience’ in the E-E-A-T update demonstrates a strong commitment to enhancing the quality and relevance of content within search results.
Experience entails firsthand encounters and practical knowledge related to the topic, offering a unique and personally-informed perspective. When integrating experience into your content, sharing personal anecdotes or case studies involving product or service usage can accentuate your distinct viewpoint and bolster your credibility.
These personal touches make your content more relatable and engaging for readers.
E-E-A-T’s significance becomes particularly pronounced when dealing with YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics, where firsthand experience lends authenticity, such as financial advice from someone with proven expertise in the financial sector.
However, it’s crucial to emphasize that while sharing experiences, information must remain factual, current, and supported by credible data. Experience should complement, not replace, thorough research and fact-checking.
The next facet of the E-E-A-T framework is ‘Expertise.’
Expertise denotes your depth of knowledge within a specific field. It signifies that your content isn’t merely accurate and reliable but delves into the intricacies of the topic, going beyond the basics.
Various avenues exist to showcase your expertise, including highlighting your formal education, professional credentials, or awards.
However, expertise extends beyond official qualifications and can stem from years of hands-on experience in a particular field, involvement in professional organizations, or creating thought leadership pieces and books.
In the realm of YMYL topics, expertise is imperative. Google expects such content to originate from individuals with relevant qualifications or credentials, such as healthcare advice from healthcare professionals.
Nevertheless, it remains paramount that content is rigorously fact-checked, current, substantiated by reputable sources, and presented in an accessible manner.
Expertise, combined with the right experience, can significantly elevate the quality and trustworthiness of your content.
The third pillar of Google’s E-E-A-T framework centres on ‘Authoritativeness.’
Authoritativeness revolves around your recognition as an expert or thought leader in your field, either as an individual or a brand. Establishing authoritativeness is a long-term commitment that hinges on consistently delivering high-quality, reliable content over time.
A key indicator of authoritativeness lies in high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. These backlinks signal to Google that others trust and reference your own content, thereby enhancing your authority in search rankings.
Additionally, recognition from respected institutions and endorsements from experts or influencers can bolster your authoritativeness.
Engaging with your audience through comments, feedback, and active discussions strengthens your authority, illustrating that users value your content and validate your expertise. Furthermore, your authority can be reinforced through a robust social media presence characterized by a substantial following or high engagement rates.
However, it’s vital to balance authority, expertise, and trustworthiness. Without the requisite expertise or trust, high authority alone can lead to misinformation or reduced credibility. Therefore, ensuring that your content remains accurate, reliable, and grounded in reputable sources while showcasing your authority is essential.
The final facet in Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines is ‘Trustworthiness.’
Trustworthiness pertains to the reliability and dependability of your content, both from a user’s perspective and in the eyes of Google’s algorithms. It forms the foundation of your E-E-A-T score and assures users that they can confidently interact with and act upon your content.
Credible sources are pivotal in establishing trustworthiness. Your website’s content becomes more trustworthy when it incorporates references or citations that validate it and is regularly updated with new information. Transparency is another crucial element in building trust.
Website security also plays a pivotal role in trustworthiness. A secure (‘https’) website safeguards user data and offers a secure browsing experience. Additionally, user experience contributes to trust-building. A user-friendly, responsive website with a clear layout and rapid load times can enhance trust and prompt customer service responses.
Is Google E-E-A-T a Ranking Factor?
E-E-A-T does not directly impact Google’s ranking algorithm, but it remains a pivotal concept that significantly influences how the search engine evaluates the quality of web pages. Google has consistently emphasized E-E-A-T’s importance, referencing it over 100 times in the current Search Quality Rater Guidelines version. Its significance was further underscored in a white paper titled “How Google Fights Disinformation“.
While there isn’t a specific, quantifiable metric for E-E-A-T, Google employs various measurable factors to gauge the quality of authors, web pages, websites, and brands. This evaluation process hinges on assessing website quality by search quality raters, whose feedback plays a vital role in shaping the Google algorithm. Additionally, Google’s algorithm considers signals that correlate with E-E-A-T, such as the presence of backlinks.
Why Is E-E-A-T Important?
In content quality and search engine ranking, Google has long emphasized the significance of Expertise, Authority, and Trust, commonly known as E-A-T. The roots of E-A-T trace back to 2014 when Google incorporated it into their Search Quality Guidelines, categorizing it under “Characteristics of High-Quality Pages.”
At that time, Google guided SEO professionals and content creators, stating that high E-A-T news articles should be crafted with journalistic professionalism. They should offer factually accurate content presented in a manner that enhances users’ understanding of events.
High E-A-T news sources were expected to have established editorial policies and robust review processes.
While Google later clarified that E-A-T wasn’t a direct ranking factor, and some Google representatives downplayed its significance within the company, the landscape changed with the August 2018 algorithm update known as the Medic Update. This update specifically targeted websites with low levels of E-A-T and substantially impacted them.
Notably, the Medic update had the most significant impact on websites falling under the category of YMYL (Your Money or Your Life). Google had recently updated its Search Quality Guidelines to define YMYL as content dealing with topics of real-life significance, such as evacuation routes during a tsunami, reports on ongoing violence, or information about purchasing prescription drugs.
Such content was expected to demonstrate substantial E-A-T or face potential loss of rankings and traffic. This distinction departed from Google’s asserting that content quality was paramount in search ranking systems. It didn’t mean that expertise suddenly outweighed quality in all cases.
Instead, it underscored that for YMYL, content, expertise, authority, and trust acted as additional layers of defense against content that might seem high-quality but originated from unreliable sources.
Beyond Google’s search quality guidelines, Google’s explanation of how search engines operate highlights the importance of expertise in ranking content, applicable to all types of content, not just YMYL.
What is YMYL?
YMYL, which stands for “Your Money or Your Life,” is a term used by Google to categorize web pages that significantly impact your financial well-being, health, safety, and overall happiness.
Pages falling under the YMYL category are held to the highest E-E-A-T standards because of the critical nature of their content and the potential consequences for users if this information is misrepresented.
According to Google:
“Google has stringent Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low-quality YMYL pages could hurt a person’s overall happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”
Types of YMYL Websites
YMYL websites encompass a wide range of subjects, including:
News and Current Events:
Pages covering international events, business, politics, science, and technology. Not all information falls under YMYL, but it’s essential to maintain high E-E-A-T standards to enhance your content’s reputation.
Civics, Government, Law:
Websites providing information related to voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, or legal advice.
Content offering financial advice, investment information, tax guidance, retirement planning, loans, banking, or insurance.
E-commerce content focused on product research or investigating goods and services that involve a purchase.
Health and Safety:
Pages featuring information or advice on health and medical matters, including hospitals, pharmacies, and drugs, and content related to emergency preparedness or dangerous activities.
Groups of People:
Content addressing ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, age, disability, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation, or veteran status.
E-E-A-T and YMYL Sites
Let’s explore the impact of Google’s E-E-A-T update on YMYL sites, where YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life.
These sites offer information or services that can significantly influence an individual’s financial situation, health, safety, or overall quality of life. This broad category encompasses websites providing financial advice, sharing news, or offering parenting tips.
The introduction of Google’s E-E-A-T update, focusing on Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, carries specific implications for YMYL websites.
Given that incorrect or untrustworthy information on these sites can have far-reaching consequences for users, Google has implemented stringent measures to evaluate the quality and reliability of YMYL sites.
YMYL websites, particularly those dealing with critical aspects of users’ health or financial well-being, must adhere closely to the E-E-A-T guidelines. Content creators on YMYL sites can share personal narratives, provided they do so without misleading or deceiving users.
Pages that feature personal experiences related to YMYL topics can still attain high E-E-A-T scores as long as the content remains reliable, secure, and aligns with expert consensus.
However, when dispensing YMYL advice or guidance, the content should originate from certified professionals within the relevant fields. Certain types of YMYL information necessitate direct input from industry experts, underscoring the importance of upholding rigorous E-E-A-T standards for these websites.
How “Experience” in E-E-A-T raises the bar
The additional “E” in E-E-A-T represents “Experience,” which marks a significant departure from the previous E-A-T framework we were familiar with, as defined by Google in December 2022.
With the inclusion of “Experience,” Google emphasises that expertise is not confined to individuals with Ph. D.s listed in their author bios. Instead, it underscores Google’s intention to hold all content creators accountable to the standards outlined in the E-A-T framework.
In essence, “Experience” transforms E-E-A-T into a more inclusive concept within today’s creator economy. You can now be recognised as an expert if you possess genuine firsthand knowledge of a subject. Google’s search quality rater guidelines succinctly define this concept:
Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary firsthand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and serve their purpose well when authored by individuals with a wealth of experience.
For instance, whom would you trust more: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a ‘review’ by someone who hasn’t?
This concept is genuinely empowering for numerous content creators. It demonstrates Google’s awareness that, in today’s digital landscape, exceptional and widely embraced content can come from various sources across different platforms and be created by experts of diverse backgrounds.
This inclusivity is also empowering for brands and businesses. Suppose the influencer who authored a blog post for your cosmetics brand boasts a substantial following, strong social engagement, and popular content across the web. In that case, you can derive the same E-E-A-T benefits from a traditional “expert” with a prestigious title.
However, the flip side of this expansion in the definition of expertise is that Google now expects higher levels of expertise from a broader spectrum of content. This expectation extends beyond YMYL topics.
Navigating the Role of AI in Content Creation and E-E-A-T Compliance
ChatGPT has recently gained significant prominence as a natural language processing tool driven by AI. For those who might not be familiar, ChatGPT enables human-like conversations and more. This language model empowers users to compose emails, craft essays, write code, and provide answers to queries.
However, it’s important to distinguish between ChatGPT and Google, despite some predictions that it might emerge as a competitor in the search engine arena.
ChatGPT is primarily a language model designed to facilitate conversations with end users by generating human-like responses. In contrast, Google’s primary purpose as a search engine is to index web pages on the internet, making it easier for users to access information, ideally from reliable sources.
It’s worth noting that ChatGPT does not offer comprehensive results in the same way Google does. Responses generated by chatbots rely on the information embedded in the language model’s training data, which may include inaccuracies, leading to potentially error-prone AI-generated text.
The primary goal of ChatGPT is to create content that reads naturally rather than providing precise answers to questions. Auto-generated content is often associated with spammy websites, characterized by creating an abundance of content with minimal effort or originality without manual curation.
Google’s updated Spam Policy recognizes that automatically-generated content is frequently generated to manipulate Google search rankings rather than providing valuable content to users.
This does not mean that tools like ChatGPT are devoid of utility in content creation. They can be valuable for brainstorming topics, creating rough outlines, and generating general ideas for titles or metadata.
However, directly copying and pasting auto-generated text from ChatGPT and publishing it on your website without further editing is not recommended. It’s essential to edit and fact-check this content diligently.
As per Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, websites comprised of auto-generated content without editing or manual curation and lacking original content or added value for users should receive low ratings.
Google recently clarified on Twitter that its focus is on content quality rather than its generation method. Nevertheless, human curation remains necessary since AI-generated content often exhibits lower quality and may contain inaccuracies.
Regarding adherence to E-E-A-T best practices, it’s important to reiterate that at this stage, tools like ChatGPT are often not considered credible sources of information due to their limited trustworthiness.
So, what does this imply?
Google’s content guidelines can still be followed when using AI tools, provided a human editor reviews and fact-checks the content to ensure its accuracy and helpfulness. Adding a personal touch, including personal experiences, use cases, personality, and anecdotes, can enhance the content’s utility for human readers.
AI content generation tools can be effectively integrated into a content creator’s toolkit alongside tools for checking spelling, punctuation, grammar, plagiarism, and readability. These tools can expedite initial research and provide a foundation for content.
This approach can be precious for startups or solo entrepreneurs with budget constraints who possess the expertise and qualifications to edit auto-generated content to align with E-E-A-T guidelines.
However, when dealing with YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content, which carries significant implications for users’ well-being, extra scrutiny should be applied when utilizing auto-generated content.
Websites falling into the YMYL category should ensure their content is based on information from genuine experts and undergo meticulous fact-checking.
Google’s Helpful Content Update and Its Implications for E-E-A-T
On August 18, 2022, Google introduced the Helpful Content Update as part of a broader initiative to ensure that search results feature more original and valuable content created by individuals to benefit others.
This update was anticipated to downrank websites that hosted a substantial amount of unhelpful content.
However, the impact on most websites was relatively minimal, and in my experience with clients, we observed no significant changes.
While the Helpful Content Update may not have had a widespread effect on websites, it’s important to underscore that E-E-A-T remains a critical factor in the context of core algorithm updates.
As we navigate these unprecedented changes in the SEO landscape, E-E-A-T will maintain its significance as a focal point for ensuring content quality and trustworthiness.
Quick Tips for Crafting EEAT Compliant Content
There you have it— a comprehensive overview of E-E-A-T, much of it directly from Google.
To wrap up our discussion, we are sharing our top 15 tips to ensure your website aligns with Google’s new quality standards and drives valuable organic traffic for your business.
Offer products and services with strong reviews from genuine customers.
Strive to provide high quality content, products, and services that benefit people rather than just pushing sales.
Showcase your expertise and credibility through badges, awards, and reputable press mentions prominently displayed and linked on your website.
Ensure all content is linked correctly, cited, and sourced from reputable references.
Collaborate with content creators with expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness.
Prioritize trustworthiness; avoid publishing misleading or deceptive content, especially in today’s information age.
Make your contact information easily accessible, including your physical address, email, phone number, and other details.
Avoid intrusive interstitials and excessive promotional content on your website.
Before publishing, thoroughly research and fact-check all content, from product pages to blog posts.
Include social media profile links, website links, and author bios for all your contributors.
Demonstrate your company’s credibility with an informative About Us page, highlighting your team, products, and mission.
If you utilize artificial intelligence for content creation, ensure it undergoes human review and refinement by an expert within your organization.
Use backlinks to establish expertise and authority in your niche’s essential topics.
Link to credible and authoritative or trustworthy sources and incorporate visuals where relevant.
Above all, prioritize original, accurate, comprehensive, and effectively communicated content.
Unlock Your Online Potential with iMarketing
In this comprehensive guide, we’ve delved into the intricate world of E-E-A-T, shedding light on its crucial role in modern SEO.
We’ve dissected the core principles of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, emphasizing their significance in earning Google’s trust and elevating your website’s search engine performance.
Understanding E-E-A-T isn’t just a matter of SEO compliance; it’s about building lasting credibility, gaining user trust, and ultimately driving valuable organic traffic to your digital doorstep.
As we conclude this exploration of E-E-A-T, we invite you to take action and leverage this knowledge to enhance your online presence. Remember that the SEO landscape is ever-evolving, and staying ahead of the curve is essential.
For result-driven SEO strategies that harness the power of E-E-A-T and drive your online success, partner with iMarketing, your trusted SEO agency. Our team of experts is dedicated to helping you achieve and surpass your digital marketing goals.
Contact us today to embark on a journey toward higher rankings, increased visibility, and tremendous online success.