If you own a website or you’re in the digital marketing space, you may have heard people talking about E-A-T in regard to SEO (search engine optimisation) and Google ranking factors. As you probably know (or can imagine for the non-tech savvy), Google rolls out changes and tweaks to its algorithms on pretty much a daily basis. Some are local, some are technical, but every change is designed to refine search results to make them as high quality and relevant as possible for the user. In addition to these small daily changes, Google also rolls out larger core algorithm updates from time to time that cause much bigger shifts and fluctuations on how some websites rank.
So, what is the relevance between E-A-T and Google’s core updates? Google published the second Core Update of 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic which appears to be rewarding websites strongly for following the E-A-T criteria. With this in mind, the idea of optimising for Google’s E-A-T has never been more important in helping you outperform other websites in the search results.
In this guide, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What does E-A-T stand for?
- How important is E-A-T?
- Is E-A-T a website ranking factor?
- Does E-A-T apply to my website?
- How to use E-A-T on your own website to outrank your competitors (infographic).
- How Wrexham Tech can help.
What does E-A-T stand for?
E‑A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This is not a new term; it comes from Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. First leaked back in 2008 and then introduced officially in 2013 to “help webmasters understand what Google looks for in a web page”, this 168-page document is used by human quality raters to assess the quality of Google’s search results. Throughout the document, there are references to the most important factors affecting Page Quality Ratings (see section 3.1 of the document quoted below):
3.1 Page Quality Rating: Most Important Factors
Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting an overall Page Quality rating:
- The Purpose of the Page
- Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: This is an important quality characteristic. Use your research on the additional factors below to inform your rating.
- Main Content Quality and Amount: The rating should be based on the landing page of the task URL.
- Website Information/information about who is responsible for the MC*: Find information about the website as well as the creator of the MC.
- Website Reputation/reputation about who is responsible for the MC: Links to help with reputation research will be provided.
* MC stands for Main Content. This is classed as any part of the web page that directly helps the page achieve its purpose.
We can see that expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness is listed here as an important quality characteristic, which is defined in more detail in section 3.2 of the guidelines:
3.2 Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
Remember that the first step of PQ* rating is to understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating. For all other pages that have a beneficial purpose, the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important. Please consider:
- The expertise of the creator of the MC.
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
- The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
* PQ stands for Page Quality. This rating is a measurement that determines how well a web page achieves its purpose.
Since they were published, these guidelines have been regarded by many as a clear signal that Google wants to deliver search results full of pages created by trusted experts with plenty of recognised authority in their field. E-A-T is one of the many criteria Google uses to determine the legitimacy and ranking power of a website. Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are each individually important metrics, but when a website can excel in all three areas together, Google will rate you higher, and at the same time, your customer base will hold you and your business in high regard also.
How important is E-A-T?
E-A-T is important for all websites, but some more than others. E-A-T is closely related to what Google calls “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages. According to Google, any page including content that can affect someone’s health, happiness, safety, or financial stability is a YMYL page. Examples include:
2.3 Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages
- News and current events: news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, technology, etc. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL (e.g., sports, entertainment, and everyday lifestyle topics are generally not YMYL).
- Civics, government, and law: information important to maintaining an informed citizenry, such as information about voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, and legal issues (e.g., divorce, child custody, adoption, creating a will, etc.).
- Finance: financial advice or information regarding investments, taxes, retirement planning, loans, banking, or insurance, particularly web pages that allow people to make purchases or transfer money online.
- Shopping: information about or services related to research or purchase of goods/services, particularly web pages that allow people to make purchases online.
- Health and safety: advice or information about medical issues, drugs, hospitals, emergency preparedness, how dangerous an activity is, etc.
- Groups of people: information about or claims related to groups of people, including but not limited to those grouped on the basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
- Other: there are many other topics related to big decisions or important aspects of people’s lives which thus may be considered YMYL, such as fitness and nutrition, housing information, choosing a college, finding a job, etc. Please use your judgment.
In a real life scenario, if you’re searching for pictures of cute dogs on the Internet, then E‑A-T probably doesn’t matter that much. The topic is subjective, and it’s not really a big deal if you see a dog you personally think looks ugly. But if you’re searching for the correct dosage of ibuprofen when taking insulin, then the search results you obtain are much more important. If Google were to display content on this topic written by a clueless writer, published on an untrustworthy website that lacks authority, then the probability of that content being inaccurate or misleading is high. Given the nature of the original question asked, wrong information is not just mildly inconvenient, it’s potentially life-threatening.
Google has very high rating standards for what they perceive as YMYL websites because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact a person’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. High-ranking YMYL pages will show a high level of E-A-T. That’s because the safer a user feels while visiting a page, and the more the content meets their search query, the more it will meet the needs of E-A-T. Sites that are genuinely offering helpful advice or a solution to a problem will meet these needs more readily than sites that try to game Google’s system. If your site is built around a YMYL topic, then demonstrating expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness is crucial.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor?
When you consider that Google is taking people’s well-being into account when they search, you can understand why they are so serious about their E-A-T standards. In Google’s recent algorithm updates, the call to have good content was replaced in many instances with the call to have good E-A-T. Having good E-A-T means that your site itself, the content on your site, and the creator of the content has to exhibit the qualities that Google is looking for to provide users with the best possible experience. With every algorithm update, Google continues to crack down to make sure bad content isn’t displayed in their search results.
Google employees rarely speak much on algorithm changes, so it’s significant that they did mention this one:
It’s almost like we look for signals that align with expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. We should give that an acronym like E-A-T and maybe suggest people aim for this. Oh wait, we did: https://t.co/1fs2oIS54L pic.twitter.com/xNL424dDdq— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) October 11, 2019
Does E-A-T apply to my website?
You know the good old saying, ‘you are what you eat’, the same is true for a website. For a long time now, I’ve been emphasising the importance of quality website content that demonstrates expertise, authority and trust. The algorithm updates may have started initially with the medical and financial industry, but I believe E-A-T has become one of the main ways Google ranks web pages from all industries.
It doesn’t matter if you’re offering a low-cost, low-threat product or service; from this point onwards you should prioritise showcasing why you are the expert in your industry, an authority whose views and opinions are sought out, and the person or brand which everyone trusts.
There are dozens of ways to do this and, while this includes encouraging people to link to you or leave reviews and testimonials about you online, it also extends to what people think and say about you offline.
How to use E-A-T on your own website to outrank your competitors
If you are looking for more ways to outrank your competitors on Google, Spiralytics share their helpful infographic guide on Google E-A-T.
How Wrexham Tech can help
At Wrexham Tech, we pride ourselves on our transparent and affordable approach to ranking strategies. If you are looking for an SEO agency that is able to provide your website with the expertise, trust and authority to outrank your competitors, contact us for more information today.