Your Guide to Google’s E-E-A-T and How it Affects your SEO
Content has always been important for search engine optimisation, but Google’s relatively recent introduction of E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) guidelines for content have made it even more significant.
E-E-A-T guidelines impact all kinds of content, from blogs to service pages to guides and homepages, and they affect not just how you write content, but your global and local SEO success as a whole.
At Embryo, we’re always looking for ways to better our SEO strategies, both from a technical perspective and a user one, so E-E-A-T is something we’ve been working towards for a while.
To learn more about E-E-A-T, what it is, how it works, why it matters, and how to improve it, keep reading or get in touch with the expert team here at Embryo at 0161 327 2635, or at [email protected].
What is E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)?
E-E-A-T is the guidelines that Google uses to determine the ‘most helpful’ (and therefore the best) content on the web. It stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Each of these factors contributes to a piece of content being determined ‘helpful’, and so more likely to rank.
Google’s many crawlers and algorithms work together to understand the content on a web page, in order to rank them against one another whether you operate locally or have an international presence on search engines – this is what you see in the SERPs when you search for any term!
In the past, a range of white-hat and black-hat SEO tactics could be employed to encourage Google to better rank websites and web pages, including keyword stuffing, article spinning, and writing for robots rather than people.
At the time, they worked, but today, they are incredibly outdated and will hurt, rather than help, your organic SEO efforts.
Today, Google understands better than ever the messy user journey and experience. This means it is looking for content that understands and meets the needs of users first and foremost, rather than anything that is meant to “trick” search engines into ranking a piece of content better.
Experience in content is the idea that an author has real-world experience with what they’re writing about. This proves that whatever you’re talking about is authentic and backed up by real-world experience!
Experience in E-E-A-T content can come in a variety of formats, such as:
- Restaurant reviews that an author has actually been to
- Products on an eCommerce website being reviewed by people who have used them
- Testimonials from people who have gone through certain procedures
- Real stories of people who have had certain life experiences
- Articles with video reviews or testimonials
- Stories from those who have lived in certain areas or had certain lifestyles
- “I tried X for 30 days” formatted content, or similar themed pieces.
Expertise requires, as the name suggests, expert knowledge of a topic. Google wants to see the author has not only experience, but the appropriate credentials, training, and qualifications for the topic. This is particularly important for YMYL sites (more on that later!), where a high level of expertise is demanded by Google.
Experience and expertise are very closely related concepts but can be mixed up! Experience is evaluating how much real-world experience an author has with the topic, while expertise comes from a combination of education, training, and experience, with a high level of expert knowledge required.
For example, an article about a bride’s experience at her wedding venue would be considered to have a high level of experience, while an article from a wedding planner about how to choose a venue would be considered to have a high level of expertise. Both of these are useful articles but would be judged in different ways by Google.
Authoritativeness in content aims to determine the reputation of a publisher in their field. This means that authoritativeness is evaluated not just for an individual piece of content, but also for the author and the website as a whole.
Reputable sites, like industry publishers, journalistic publications, industry papers, and other high-authority publications, are considered the most authoritative.
For example, this piece would be considered highly authoritative for the following reasons:
- It comes from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which is a highly trusted professional association
- It is written by a qualified professional, Dr. Paul Vitneas
- There is also a link to Dr Vitneas’ own surgery, further backing up his authoritativeness as an author
When evaluating the trustworthiness of a piece of content, Google uses a variety of its own SEO tools to look for signals that the author is honest in their writing, and that the site is safe for users.
Trustworthiness is arguably the most important part of E-E-A-T and takes the author, the content, and the website into account.
In the words of Content Product Owner, Shona Worsman:
‘Building trust is essential to inspire users to buy from you. EEAT signals are like the online version of your store or office. The more legitimate and trustworthy you seem, the more likely your audience will stroll right in and feel confident about doing business with you!’
In order to be deemed trustworthy, authors must be clear about who has written the content and their credentials, cite a range of trusted sources, ensure the content is factually correct, avoid plagiarism, and avoid having too many ads on the page.
Trustworthiness covers more than just content marketing – it will also look at the design of the site for mobile and desktop, additional trust cues such as reviews and ratings on-site, the security of the site (Google itself has mentioned that an insecure shopping checkout is seen as untrustworthy), and a range of other wider technical SEO factors all contribute to the trustworthiness of a piece of content.
Why Google E-E-A-T is important for your SEO strategy
Google E-E-A-T is vital for your SEO strategy, as it is the framework to create Google’s preferred content styles. It is particularly important for YMYL sites.
Unlike in the past, E-E-A-T signals a significant change in how content is evaluated. Under E-E-A-T, there is no longer any way to “trick” Google or to write only for search engines.
What Google wants, is what users want, and what users want, is what Google wants.
In order to meet E-E-A-T guidelines, content has to be geared first and foremost towards users and what they want to see. Keyword research and strategy still has its place, but it cannot be the leading factor in content creation.
For lots of marketing teams, SEOs, and content writers, that means carrying out additional research into what it is that their users are looking for, what your content might be missing, and getting those additional experienced and expert perspectives to incorporate into the content.
Is Google E-E-A-T a Ranking Factor?
Perhaps in a slightly contradictory manner, Google E-E-A-T is not a ranking factor. Or at least, not a direct one.
- There are many direct ranking factors on websites that Google can quickly and easily score and evaluate quantitatively. Direct ranking factors include things like:
- Site speed
- Core web vitals (CWV) scores
- Your backlink profile
- Website security
- Domain authority/domain ranking (DA/DR)
- Website structure
- And much, much more
E-E-A-T is different from these factors in that it often can’t be quantitatively measured, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
Content is still king, and the type and quality of content on your site will have an impact on your overall rankings.
Google wants its users to have the best experience possible on their site – that’s how they make money. In order for this to happen, they have to serve users the best possible results for their search query.
Google and its algorithms are smarter than ever, and they can identify the topic, context, author links, depth, and subject matter of a piece of content with ease, so it’s important that you give them what they’re looking for!
Latest News & Blogs
What is YMYL?
YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life and is something we’ve touched on a couple of times already in this guide.
YMYL is a group of websites which contain information pertaining to users’ money or their lives – things like financial advice and healthcare.
While E-E-A-T is Google’s standard practice and is required for all website content, there is particular importance placed on these factors for YMYL websites, because of the real-world impact that they can have on users’ lives.
Types of YMYL websites
There are a range of different types of websites under the YMYL umbrella, including:
- Healthcare and medical sites
- Financial sites, including:
- Financial advice
- Homeownership and mortgages
- Tax and inheritance
- Legal information sites
- Current events and news sites
- Government guides and websites
Healthline is a great example of a YMYL site that prioritises E-E-A-T signals in order to rank well and, more importantly, to provide users with helpful, reliable information that is backed up by evidence and reputation.
For example, this guide titled “How to Find Mental Health Services When You Need More Than Therapy” very clearly meets YMYL criteria.
Among many other factors, it contains:
- A medical expert author
- A qualified social worker who has reviewed the piece
- Author profiles on the site for both the author and reviewer
- Transparency on every additional writer or editor who has been a part of the content creation process
- Academic references
- A clear “most recently updated” date
- A history of article revisions
Healthline itself is also highly regarded in its niche and has a considerable backlink profile with high domain authority.
6 Ways to Improve Your Website’s E-E-A-T
1. Build High-Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are arguably one of the most important SEO tactics you can employ, regardless of E-E-A-T. They increase your chances of being crawled and portray your site as a reliable source on the web.
In terms of E-E-A-T, a high number of relevant, industry-specific backlinks tell search engines that your site is a source of high-quality content, and is, therefore, a trustworthy publisher.
When building backlinks, take into account not just how many you can get, but where you can get them from. In terms of E-E-A-T, a few backlinks from reputable and relevant industry sources are worth much more than many links of lower quality and relevance.
2. Review and Update Content
This is one of the most important things you can do to improve your E-E-A-T! Take a look at your existing content and identify areas for improvement – this could be:
- Expanding existing content to go into more depth about a subject
- Identifying opportunities to add reviews and testimonials
- Create case studies showing your industry experience
- Create blog posts based on the questions your customers are asking
- Build relationships with industry experts and include their comments in your copy
By updating and optimising your content in line with these guidelines, you can increase not just your rankings, but your site useability too.
3. Showcase Positive User Reviews and Testimonials
Testimonials and customer reviews are great for building trust with your users, so it makes sense that they would be great for your E-E-A-T as well! Testimonials provide proof of experience and trust signals to Google, while also being a great help for users working through the deliberation stage of the messy middle.
There are lots of ways to automate reviews using APIs and platforms like TrustPilot or TripAdvisor, but if that’s not possible, displaying any kind of review or testimonial will help to make your business more appealing and user-friendly.
4. Collaborate with Experts
Expertise is often one of the hardest things for businesses to get right when it comes to E-E-A-T.
If you have experts within your business, they need to be willing to offer commentary, contribute to content, and put their names to copy on your website. If the experts aren’t in your business, work with external outreach to build partnerships with them and invite them to work with you.
5. Include Author & Business Credentials
This is one of the easiest ways to boost your E-E-A-T profile. Whenever you’re posting new, informative content, make sure that the author is named and has their credentials easily visible.
You’ll also want to back this up with author profiles or links to their personal site/other work.
This signals to Google that you’re working with experts and so have all of those expert, authoritative elements on your side as a business.
You can also backdate this approach for existing content.
6. Show Support & Contact Information
Showing support and contact information clearly and easily is something all users want. Whatever your business model, being accessible and available to help if something has gone wrong is something that customers (and therefore search engines) find valuable.
If you don’t have easy ways for your customers to contact you, chances are that you’re missing trust signals, and that’s something that both users and search engines will pick up on.
Get on Track with E-E-A-T with the Experts at Embryo
E-E-A-T can be pretty labour-intensive in some ways, but the benefits you see when implementing it as part of your strategies – both for SEO and in your overarching marketing efforts – make all the effort worthwhile.