Technical: EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness)- Why It is Important for SEO

The days are long gone when you could show up on Google overnight

To rank well on Google, amongst 200 other factors, you should nurture your brand by building its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness – which is what E-A-T stands for. Here’s how EAT can take your SEO efforts to the next level!

Infor graphic on E A T Google ranking factor
The main purpose of search engines is to give the most accurate result every time someone enters a query in the search bar. For Google, the means to this end is constant algorithm updates. Every so often, Google rolls out a new set of rules or guidelines to rank websites, so that, in turn, website owners can come up with content that offers the best search experience for users. One of those algorithm updates included guidelines for something Google calls E-A-T, which you might have heard of before if you’ve been involved in the industry. Although this isn’t an unfamiliar concept in digital marketing, the idea of optimizing for Google’s EAT criteria has never been more important than ever in helping you outperforming other websites in search results.

What Google Says About EAT

Google released EAT in 2014 as part of their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that reviewers use to gauge the quality of pages that offer content via the internet. However, not everyone knew how Google actually used E-A-T to determine what was considered a quality page. It wasn’t until February 2019 that Google confirmed through a white paper that it works with evaluators who rate content quality in terms of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

EAT in Google’s search evaluator guidelines

Although the ratings do not directly affect the ranking of any one website, Google uses it as a benchmark to keep improving its algorithms so that the search engine can identify high-quality versus low-quality information, and then push content that has better EAT signals up on the search results. The bottom line? As you can see, none other than Google themselves say E-A-T are very important factors for your site and its pages.

SOURCE: Infographic use-permission was given to me by Spiralytics


Which Type of Sites Need to Heavily Focus On E-A-T?

Google is explicit in its Quality Guidelines that the level of E-A-T expected of a given website depends on the topics presented on that website, and the extent to which its content is YMYL in nature.

YMYL stands for “your money or your life”

This is how Google’s refers to web pages and content that could have a negative impact on the quality of people’s lives and/or their finances

  • Pages that solicit personal information, such as personal identification numbers, bank account numbers, drivers license numbers, etc., which could be used for identify theft.
  • Pages used for monetary transactions, on which users might give their credit account or bank account information; for example any page that allows you to buy something.
  • Pages that offer medical or health information that could impact your physical well being.
  • Pages offering advice on major life decisions, such as pages on parenting, purchasing a home, a vehicle, etc.
  • Pages offering advice on major life issues that could impact your future happiness and finances, such as pages giving legal or financial advice.

Google (and users) has high standards when looking at these elements of a YMYL page/site:

Main content quality – “should be written by people or organizations with professional expertise” and be “edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.” Contact information – “websites that require a high level of user trust … require very helpful contact information.” “The types and amount of contact information needed depend on the type of page and the type of website. Contact information is extremely important for YMYL websites. Be extra critical of shopping websites. Most stores have contact information or contact processes prominently featured. Sometimes this information is listed as ‘customer service.’ Users often need to contact stores for questions and returns. Stores usually work very hard to win users’ trust by offering many ways to contact them. Some retailers have special sections of their website devoted to customer service.” Reputation. (“…the reputation of a website should be judged by what expert opinions have to say. For example, high quality medical websites are endorsed by prominent physician groups.”) Maintained/updated website. (“Medical, legal, financial, and other YMYL websites require up-to-date information.”) Site design:Amateurish website design is less acceptable for YMYL websites, such as legal, financial, and medical websites or shopping websites that ask for your credit card information.” Shopping pages: “PQ ratings for product results need extra care and attention. Often, the results for product queries are YMYL pages. Users need high quality information from authoritative sources when researching products, especially when products are expensive or represent a major investment/important life event (for example cars, washing machines, computers, wedding gifts, baby products, etc). When buying products, users need websites they can trust: good reputation, extensive customer service support, etc. Results for product queries may be important for both your money and your life (YMYL)!” Goal of Page Quality (PQ) rating is to evaluate how well the page achieves its purpose. Because different types of websites and webpages can have very different purposes, our expectations and standards for different types of pages are also different.

Which Type of Sites Don't Need to Focus On E-A-T?

  • Hobby websites, such as photography or learning to play guitar requires less formal expertise, and will be held to a lower standard in terms of E-A-T analysis.
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