Google's goal is to provide searchers with high-quality answers to every question they could possibly ask. To do this, it relies on a complex collection of rules and ranking factors. Some of these factors fall under the category of E-A-T, meaning Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
These factors have always been important to Google but became even more important when Google pushed the Medic update in 2018. Since then, many brands that lack E-A-T found that their web traffic fell off significantly.
Why E-A-T matters
One of the best things about the web is that it gives everyone a platform to share their views. One of the worst things about the web is that since anyone can create content, it's hard to be sure whether what you're reading is true.
Exactly how important it is to verify the quality of content depends on the niche. Bad advice about how to knit a sweater might waste a reader some time and the cost of the wool. Bad financial advice could cost someone their retirement fund. Bad medical advice could cost lives.
Google places particular emphasis on E-A-T for sites that are in those latter two categories, calling them Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) categories. The potential for harm from misinformation in YMYL categories is greater, so the quality and accuracy of content it presents must be as high as possible.
Google uses E-A-T to determine how likely information is to be accurate. Information published by a researcher on an education-related domain, that generally agrees with other cited experts is probably trustworthy. Information published by an unknown source on a recently purchased commercial domain that contradicts trustworthy sources is less likely to be accurate.
E-A-T is a simple series of metrics for determining if content can be trusted. Websites that Google rates highly in terms of E-A-T are more likely to rank well in the SERPs. E-A-T isn't the only factor, there are other factors, such as loading speed and, of course, relevance. If E-A-T is lacking, however, a site's ranking may suffer.
How to show your E-A-T
If you have a niche website, it's likely that you have some expertise or interest in the area it's about, but how can you prove that? There are several ways to demonstrate expertise and authority:
- Create detailed, informative posts to earn links back from authority websites
- Include reputable citations (such as ones from .edu or .gov domains where possible)
- Generate lots of shares on social media
- Link back to and leverage authority sources (long-established, trusted sites in your niche)
- Fact-check all your content - sharing demonstrably false information could impair your rating
- Include bylines for all authors
Authorship is an important art of E-A-T. Having content written by real people, with real profiles and clear expertise is a major part of building trust. Readers, and search engines, are more likely to trust content written by someone who has expertise in that subject than they are an anonymous post written by "admin".
Authority doesn't always have to mean "professional expertise", although for topics such as finance or health, that does help. In some niches, Google Authority can be enough. A person who has been blogging about video games or a popular movie franchise for many years counts as an expert in that niche, especially if they consistently fact-check their content, and have a lot of citations themselves.
Your whole site needs the E-A-T treatment
Google examines pages individually, but not in a vacuum. The content of the rest of the domain is considered too. Every blog post should be informative or entertaining. If you have an online store, your product descriptions should be unique. Use your About Us page to explain who you are, what you do and why you're the best at it.
Designing your site with E-A-T in mind doesn't just create positive ranking signals for the search engines, it also builds trust with users. That trust is essential to turn visitors into buyers.
So, when you're creating content, look it over with a critical eye. Is this content fluff and filler, or high-quality, shareable content that readers will appreciate? When you're reviewing your current content, make sure it's up-to-date and still relevant. If every page of your site adds value for users, you're on the right track.
By Eric Hoppe
Eric is the Director of Marketing at Crowd Content. He's worked in marketing with several technology companies during his career, but for the last ten years has worked with companies that offer content writing services. This gave him the opportunity to work with thousands of companies from small businesses to Fortune 500 firms to help them craft high-quality content. He's particularly interested in SEO and finding ways that brands can improve their content creation process to support it.