We all have that one relative who makes every holiday awkward by bringing up conspiracy theories over dinner. “It’s true, just Google it!” they insist. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world who believe everything they read, which is why Google is putting an increasing emphasis on E-A-T—Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. In doing so, Google hopes to serve its users reliable information by ranking it more highly than information coming from sketchy sources.
E-A-T can work in your favor, but it can also hobble your SEO efforts if you don’t take it seriously, it can also hobble your SEO efforts. Here’s what you need to know about E-A-T and why we’re big fans of the concept.
What is E-A-T?
As mentioned above, E-A-T is Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Let’s dig into what each of these means, at least according to Google:
Quite simply, is the person writing your content an expert? In many cases, if you own a business, you’re an expert in what you do, so you don’t have to worry too much here. That said, if you have a business that deals in wellness or health, you’ll need to tread carefully if you don’t have any medical certifications or degrees. Consider hiring someone with credentials to write or review your content.
You have expertise, but do other people recognize your expertise? If so, you have authority. Anyone can call themselves an expert, but Google wants to know that others in your industry recognize you as such.
This means exactly what you think it does—can people trust that you’re providing them with honest, accurate, and reliable information?
E-A-T and YMYL
In order to understand E-A-T, you also need to understand YMYL, or Your Money or Your Life. It sounds like a threat, but Your Money or Your Life refers to any website where the stakes are a bit higher than, say, a compilation of cat memes—you’re using the information presented on a page to make a decision that could impact your finances or your life. These are the websites where Google expects there to be a greater degree of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Traditionally, YMYL sites have been considered medical, legal, or financial, but if you run a business—and you probably do if you’re concerned about your SEO—then your site exists to persuade people to spend their money on your products or services. You should consider your site YMYL and as such, you should focus on establishing your E-A-T so you can prove your bona fides to Google’s mysterious algorithms.
How Google Determines Your E-A-T
Although Google likes to be vague about their inner workings—at least as far as their search algorithms are concerned—one place where they’re very transparent is with their Quality Rater Guidelines. Quality Raters manually review pages and this data is aggregated and used to improve search algorithms. The guidelines these Quality Raters use for their work tell us a lot about how Google determines E-A-T. Here are some factors they look at:
Organic Links and Mentions
Anyone can get links. Google wants you to have good links from authoritative sites. You may be surprised to learn that even mentions of your business, without a link, can boost your E-A-T in the eyes of Google. (This doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to try to turn those mentions into links, though—mentions boost E-A-T, but links are still the currency of SEO.)
Every page on your site should have a purpose—and no, that purpose should never be to shoehorn a bunch of keywords onto a page. If it’s not helpful to the reader, Google doesn’t want to index it. Before you publish anything on your website, ask yourself if it’s useful.
Who are you? What makes you an expert in your field? Google looks at your credentials to verify whether your advice should be recommended to its users by ranking it highly in the SERPs.
How to Bolster Your E-A-T
We love E-A-T and you should too—you’re probably an expert at what you do, right? So all you have to do is prove this to Google. Fortunately, doing so is fairly simple:
Create High Quality Content
Poorly written content that doesn’t serve a purpose to the reader hurts your E-A-T, so you should make sure everything you publish is on-point, and go back to edit anything that isn’t. If you’re not much of a writer (or editor), hire someone to do it for you—we can do both at Main Street ROI.
As long as we’re on the topic of writing, if you hire an SEO firm to create content for you, make sure you know what you’re paying for. Many agencies outsource their writing to the lowest bidder—and it shows. At Main Street ROI, we have a team of in-house writers who take the time to research your industry in order to deliver content that helps your E-A-T, rather than hurting it.
Put Your Name on Your Content
For health-related, legal, and financial sites, each article on your blog should have a byline by someone with authority on the topic at hand. Create a bio at the end of your posts where you can discuss your credentials and education. If you hire an outside writer, consider having them ghostwrite under the name of someone on your team who has the authority you need—this is perfectly acceptable as long as the ghostwritten content is reviewed for accuracy.
Get Yourself Out There
Share your E-A-T with the world! Seek earned media about your business, write guest posts for authoritative websites, and become active in professional groups for your industry. These links and mentions will bolster your authoritativeness in the eyes of Google.
Ask for Reviews
Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines instruct raters to look at online reviews in order to research the reputation of a content creator. If you don’t have many reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, BBB, or other rating websites specific to your niche, reach out to clients and customers and ask them to share their experience with your business. Bonus: these reviews will give your local SEO efforts a boost, too.
Don’t Forget the Basics