The online world is full of acronyms and one acronym that you may sometimes hear is E-A-T. This is a key part of Google’s quality guidelines to review websites and rate them for ranking positions. EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, and these are three elements you need to consider when writing website content as part of an SEO strategy.
We referred to the EAT requirements in last month’s article about the Google video – Trillions of Questions – as this aspect is covered in the content. This month, we look at this issue in some more detail and ask why it’s important when you are considering optimising a website for Google.
As more and more websites are creating optimised content and competing for the same ranking positions, Google has to make more refined decisions on which sites to rank in the top results for each search term. Links to a site will still play a key role in this process, but the EAT guidelines are also a key consideration that Google’s engineers will look at to review which sites should appear above others.
EAT is also a core element of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines – the detailed document that is used by Google’s human evaluators, who are tasked with reviewing search results and providing feedback to Google on which results are good, and which could be improved.
In particular, the EAT guidelines apply to sites that Google may class with another acronym – YMYL – which stands for “Your Money or Your Life”. This relates to websites that may be related to health or financial issues, and in these cases in particular, Google wants to rank relevant sites that also provide correct or reliable information, which won’t negatively impact the searcher’s “happiness, health, or wealth”.
The principles of EAT are therefore key for these type of websites, but can apply to all markets in a way that Google wants to serve up the best quality results to searchers, so that they feel confident that are finding the best websites and information they are looking for, and so build or maintain trust on Google’s results and continue to use it as their search engine of choice.
EAT first made an appearance in 2015 when the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines were made publicly available. This is the document used by several thousand people employed by Google to search and review the results on the search engine and provide the feedback the engineers need to assess how well the search engine is producing the results users may need. The principles of EAT are a core part of these guidelines and so it’s something that the evaluators are looking for and helping to develop the ranking results on these principles.
So what do the principles of EAT mean and how can you build this into your website content? Here are some ideas:
With each of these principles, you need to think about your target audience and the searchers who may find your site and review your content. What are they looking for and what will they think of your website? This starts with the search terms that your site is targeting or ranking for, and what is the main intent of the searcher. What level of information do they need or expect and are you using the right words and information to help them achieve their need. In most cases, if you understand your audience and write content to inform and sell to this market, you should be achieving this element.
But also how can you demonstrate your expertise in the field? Such things as years of experience, qualifications, awards or other recognition, published articles or training courses provided, can all help to support the core content that you are presenting to your site visitors.
This can be a harder element to achieve, but relates to your recognised position in your chosen market – do you have links and references from other websites, is your name or brand recognised in the market? Think about your site visitors and what they are reading – how will they judge your knowledge and authority in the market?
Expertise and authority is something that can be developed through years of experience, but trust can be harder to build and easy to lose. How is your website or personnel viewed in the wider market and can you demonstrate trust through reviews? If you receive negative reviews, how do you handle them and what perception do these comments give to other users.
In simple terms, Google’s system and ranking algorithms are trying to view every website in the way a person would, and what key signals can be read about the quality of the results and content being provided once people click on the search link and leave Google.
You should also be considering these factors for your own site visitors, and compared to other websites in your market. If you can find ways to improve your content and website perception to a new visitor in your market, you’ll likely be following the main EAT principles used by Google.
As ever, if you have any questions about your website SEO and content, please contact us for a discussion. Our experienced search engine marketing team will be happy to help!