The internet is rife with information, and most people use Google to search for answers to their questions. In fact, according to Internet Live Stats, over 3.5 billion searches per day are made, and 1.2 trillion searches are made per year worldwide. With a market share of 61.8 percent, according to figures from Statista, Google is considered the leading U.S. search engine provider with over 267 million unique visitors from the U.S.
Because of this, Google has performed innumerable updates to their algorithm to provide their users with the most relevant content.
However, relevance wasn’t enough, as Google also wanted to deliver the correct information. Because Google is considered the most visited multi-web platform property in the U.S., it stands to reason that their objective was to improve the quality of search results they delivered.
This is where E-A-T comes in.
What Is E-A-T?
Simply put, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. More than just another acronym to be added to the long list of jargon used by SEO specialists, E-A-T is among the primary yardsticks used by Google to evaluate content and decide what should rank well on search engine results pages (SERPs).
To put E-A-T into perspective, it’s easier to enumerate what it’s not:
- It’s not an algorithm.
- It’s not a score.
- It’s not a direct ranking factor.
So, what exactly is it, and why is it so important?
The Beginnings of E-A-T
Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines
To understand what E-A-T is and how it came about, we have to first go back to 2015, when Google published its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. With over 160 PDF pages, this document was primarily designed to guide Google’s team of human evaluators in judging the quality of Google Search results. Their feedback would then be set as the benchmark used by Google to tweak and improve its algorithms so it can give its visitors a better user experience. For many marketers and content creators, this meant that achieving a high rank in Google search pages was no longer going to be an overnight affair. To rank well, websites and their content must now demonstrate E-A-T, which can only be achieved over time if a brand is nurtured well.
The “Medic” Update
Since Google is constantly trying to improve its algorithms, by August 2018, it released what was called the “Medic” update, the term for which emerged due to the unwitting effect the update had on a significant number of medical sites. Aside from this, the Medic update also affected YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites, which are considered to have the potential to cause substantial harm or negatively impact a person’s health, wealth, and happiness if they provide the wrong information.
With Google’s E-A-T in place, and the Medic update rolled out. Sites that are often fraudulent, with no expertise, authority, or trustworthiness on a subject were stripped from their rankings on the SERPs.
Why Is E-A-T Important?
E-A-T has become the cornerstone of valuable content for good reasons; after all, who would want to get advice from someone who has no idea what they’re talking about? More than that, why would anyone choose to get advice from someone who has neither the credibility nor the reputation to speak about a specific matter?
Getting the right answers is important, but as demonstrated by the presence of low-quality YMYL sites, this is even more important for some questions, especially if providing the wrong answer could cause physical, emotional, and financial damages. Without E-A-T as the gold standard for evaluating content, more and more people would be exposed to both misinformation and disinformation.
How to Please Google and Incorporate E-A-T in Your Content
With all this discussion about E-A-T, how do you actually incorporate it in your content? Here’s a short rundown for each criterion.
More often than not, people make the mistake of thinking that being an expert simply means being knowledgeable about a specific topic or field. In the context of E-A-T, however, being an expert also means being knowledgeable about how to communicate well. For instance, you might be a doctor for several years, but if you can’t properly and accurately explain medical conditions using layman’s terms, then your chances of driving traffic or engagement to your site will be close to nil.
To create expert content, be sure to communicate using terms that can be easily understood. Avoid the temptation to use complicated jargon just to sound intelligent, as this will likely confuse your audience instead of benefiting them. Additionally, create content that can be helpful to people, especially for those who are looking for answers to search queries.
Being an expert means you can speak knowledgeably about a certain topic. Being an authority on a particular subject, however, means that other experts or influencers cite you as a good source of information. In evaluating the authoritativeness of a website or individual, having a good reputation in your niche is key. Without it, other experts in your field and relevant fields won’t refer to you as a credible resource. One good way you can become an authoritative figure with your content is if it’s widely and consistently shared across social media by authentic users.
Gaining trust means that people look to you and your website or content as something that’s real, transparent, and legitimate. Conversely, shady sites with even shadier content don’t often share information that can be cross-checked with other legitimate sources. Having positive reviews or feedback for your site or business can also increase your trust ranking.
E-A-T Your Heart Out
Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are the ABCs of Google’s SEO guidelines. Without these guidelines, shady, fraudulent, and potentially harmful websites and content would proliferate the internet, which can put unwitting users in harm’s way. To get into Google’s good graces and increase your ranking on the SERPs, practice incorporating E-A-T on your website and in your content.