Search engine optimization (SEO) has been a crucial tool in helping businesses ensure potential clients can find what they’re searching for on the internet for over 20 years!
While Google and other search engines aren’t exactly focused on your revenue, they are concerned about ensuring users come away satisfied that their internet search met their unique needs. So, in that way, they do indirectly care about your online sales. However, not every website is a store and not every store tracks sales, sothe search engine giant has constructed a complicated algorithm to prioritize only the best possible matches for a user’s intent.
While there have been many iterations of this complex set of rules designed to deliver the best set of results for any given query, Google officially added a concept called E-A-T to its Search Quality Guidelines in 2014. More recently they added an “E” to that acronym, now calling it E-E-A-T.
Learn more about why E-A-T, and now E-E-A-T, are so critical to your SEO efforts with our deep dive into these critical guidelines.
Understanding Google E-A-T and E-E-A-T
E-A-T is an acronym that stands for “expertise, authority, and trust,” three qualities any website must display to receive a high-quality rating from Google’s human search engine evaluation program as well as its AI algorithm. These Google search guidelines explicitly instructed human raters to carefully evaluate a page’s expertise on a given subject, perceived authority in its niche, and trustworthiness regarding its contents before assigning a page a quality rating.
This focus completely altered the search engine results that populated when users entered a query because it was no longer enough to conduct keyword research and stuff a page full of all the relevant keyword strings needed for Google to serve a given page. Now, to reach the top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP), websites must have relevant, quality content, and content creators must prove they have the necessary attributes to back it up.
While E-A-T was not intended to be a ranking factor – a factor that determines how well it serves the user’s intent according to Google’s algorithm – it does impact your website’s power to rank high on the SERP. To rank, your website must fill the user’s needs by matching relevant keywords, functioning well, and various other ranking factors. To be considered high-quality, your website must provide high-quality content and demonstrate – you guessed it – expertise, authority, and trust.
While E-A-T was intended to inspire better content and better-quality websites appeared on the SERP, work still needed to be done. Google continuously works to serve better results that meet user needs. As a result, Google E-A-T has now become Google E-E-A-T.
E-E-A-T, as you may suspect, includes the three major qualities of the E-A-T model but with one noticeable addition: the extra “E” now stands for “Experience.” Google has stated that moving forward, it will value experience along with expertise, authority, and trust, and it’s crucial for anyone with a website to understand how this changes how we search on the web. Whether SEO is second-nature to you or if your business is looking to expand your knowledge of Google’s Search Quality Guidelines, knowledge of E-E-A-T is a must.
The Components of E-E-A-T
Google E-E-A-T, also known as “Double E-A-T,” was officially implemented in Google search rater guidelines as of December 2022. Each component of this new set of guidelines is essential in creating a website and content that will rank when a user browses the web for relevant terms. Let’s dive into each component.
Search results will consider the content creator’s personal experience in the area in question, which is just one of the ways SEO has evolved over the years. Google once instructed its human raters that each individual is an expert in their own experiences, melding expertise and experience. Now, forum posts and social media posts, product reviews, and more content that demonstrates the creator’s personal experience may be prioritized.
There may be some overlap with experience, but there is a key difference, as experience doesn’t necessarily lend itself to expertise. In the insurance example mentioned above, a user may not be searching for insurance plan reviews by insurance clients and policyholders. Instead, they may want in-depth plan details from underwriters or other representatives of the company itself. Expertise prioritizes these types of results created by content creators and site owners who have the credentials necessary to become an expert on the subject.
For a website, this can mean insurance industry content from one of the major providers. For a content creator, this could mean analysis from a respected policy analyst.
To evaluate authority regarding a search for the insurance claims process, Google search engine evaluators would consider Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and other industry ratings to determine the website’s authority. The content creator should not only be affiliated with the authoritative website but should also back that authority with citations or links to research or other authoritative pages.
Another way to think of this component is to think about the content’s overall relevance to the publishing site. An insurance blog on a major insurance company’s site demonstrates plenty of authority. However, the same blog post on a cooking site is irrelevant to the purpose of the site and may be rated as poor quality as a result.
For example, websites should be clear and concise with brand credentials, ideally including an About Us or similar page. In addition, the site should have security protocols, especially if it hosts financial transactions. A website with more ads than content is also a red flag for raters, as they may deem the website poor quality. For content creators, providing truthful, well-written content, including links or citations of other trustworthy material – or even earning linkbacks to original content because the creator is well-respected as a trustworthy source – are essential ways to demonstrate trustworthiness.
Why E-E-A-T Matters
As you can see, all of these components are interrelated, which is why all are used together to determine the quality of your website or its content. When someone heads to Google to enter a query, Google’s algorithm factors your relevance to the query and other ranking factors into whether it will serve your content to the user. However, it will use your personal experience, expertise, authoritativeness or reputation, and overall trust to determine the quality of your content and your website as a whole.
High-quality content from high-quality websites is prioritized in order to give Google users the best experience, and that perception of quality also holds true for the users who find their way to your page. The E-E-A-T model is crucial in filtering out results that are malicious or unhelpful when they are exposed to Google’s human rater teams. When your content is viewed by someone searching for information in your niche, it should demonstrate your E-E-A-T to ensure the user will continue viewing your information and maybe even make a conversion on your page.
Implementing E-E-A-T SEO
E-E-A-T SEO is essential in optimizing your website and its content. Attention to these four critical components of your quality rating can ensure you continue to rank well for relevant searches and drive essential traffic to your site. Just as importantly, quality content created with E-E-A-T in mind can help increase user trust in your content and ensure they will continue to engage with your website.
Keep in mind: Google hasn’t changed the original E-A-T model, but it has expanded it to include results that demonstrate valid experience. Attention to experience and all other aspects of E-E-A-T can help businesses make adjustments that will improve their search rankings.
Here are some tips to consider along the way:
Always Write Your Content For People
If your content is difficult for the average person to enjoy or digest, they may leave your site and head elsewhere. Your content should benefit people first, whether it’s through offering personal stories, providing advice, or answering questions. The goal should always be to engage the user first. Even if a visitor doesn’t turn into a buyer after their first visit, a great experience can lead to email subscribers, social shares, earned links, repeat visits and future buyers… and the good news is, all of this is also good for SEO!
Update Your Content
While your content may have drawn in new readers at one point, it risks becoming outdated – and losing E-E-A-T – the longer it sits. Keep the information you post updated regularly, and be sure you always have something to share at regular intervals so your page content stays fresh. You should also be regularly evaluating your SEO practices to ensure your content adheres to the latest guidelines.
Transparency and trustworthiness go hand in hand, and both can elevate your website drastically. Be as clear as possible about who you are, what credentials you have, and why people should go to you for information. If you don’t already have an “About Us” section, it’s time to create one now. If you’re working with other experts, be open about that and link back to their content to share in their E-E-A-T.
Other ways to highlight who you are and add trust:
- Blog authorship, including a name, picture, bio and links to relevant social sites
- Contact us page
- Phone number
- Live chat
If you are a local business, you should have a map to your store. If you are an online shop, you should have a clear way for customers to contact you for support. Google Quality Reviews are looking out for these things in particular.
Build Your Link Profile
Earning backlinks from authoritative sources helps ensure your E-E-A-T scores improve with Google by signaling that other websites also see your content as worthy of talking about. Relevant, quality links have always been an important aspect of website SEO. Simply having quality content is not enough. Others have quality content as well. What makes yours better? Offsite signals, such as links from third party websites, act as a vote to help support where content should rank in the search engine result pages for the thousands of results that come up for any given query.
As you can imagine, more links and from higher quality sources will have a bigger impact. However, that’s easier said than done. You have to have the type of content that will attract and earn links. A good way to do this is by conducting research and producing useful assets such as guides, infographics, videos, and other informational content. Quality assets can earn links naturally over time, but initially it does take effort. Link builders use techniques like outreach, PR, citations, directories and guest blogging to try to earn their pages new links.
Even if you are an expert in your field or already a trusted brand in your niche, it is crucial to back your content with information from credible sources. News outlets, academic databases, studies, and research papers are all examples of credible sources. If your business is found to be using illegitimate sources, your trustworthiness will drop tremendously. We try to stick to government sites, scientific studies, medical journals and established research sites, such as educational institutions that publish their findings.
Be Careful with Ads
Advertisements are used to bring in revenue, and while that’s fine for your business, you may want to consider your approach to ads overall. Google’s human raters are instructed to diminish page quality ratings for landing pages with intrusive or overwhelming ads. That means search engines will filter out your website if it notices your overabundance of ads, as both search engines and users will find your site untrustworthy or at risk of being clickbait.
Curate a Variety of Content Types
While we’ve already mentioned content types that can lend E-A-T to your page and increase your chances of earning linkbacks, like infographics, whitepapers, calculators, quizzes, games, case studies, research, and more, it’s now just as important to focus on that first “E.” Include content on your page that speaks to the experiences of either your site owner or people who have interacted with your organization.
For example, if you provide a service or sell a product, create content that demonstrates the personal experiences that led you to create and perfect your offerings. Then, provide a place for clients to leave a review, feature testimonials, or create video content that gives an up-close-and-personal view of how people experience your brand.
When you are publishing content on YMYL content, trustworthiness matters even more.
YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics are those that Google has categories as those that could significantly impact your readers’ financial safety and stability or personal health and well-being. Common YMYL topics include finance, medicine, and current events.
E-E-A-T is important for YMYL SEO because misinformation on such topics can cause harm to the following:
- The individual consuming the content
- People impacted by the actions of the content viewer
- Communities influenced by the behavior of those who engaged with the content
Here are a few examples of Google YMYL subjects:
Definitive YMYL subjects:
- emergency escape routes during a hurricane
- updates on ongoing violence
- details about buying prescription medication
- health-related information on chronic illnesses, mental health disorders, and treatment options
- legal advice on critical matters such as divorce, child custody, or bankruptcy
- financial guidance on investments, retirement planning, or tax preparation
- educational resources for standardized tests, college applications, or career planning
- information on government programs, benefits, or assistance
- critical safety instructions, such as handling hazardous materials or first aid procedures
- cybersecurity best practices and identity theft protection measures
Potentially YMYL subjects:
- weather predictions
- reports on a car crash
- advice on when to change your toothbrush
- home maintenance recommendations
- travel advisories and safety tips
- nutrition and exercise guidelines
- parenting advice and child development information
- personal finance tips, such as budgeting or saving strategies
- workplace safety protocols
- recommendations for electronic device usage and care
Unlikely YMYL subjects:
- music award recipients
- updates on a local high school football game
- a music video
- movie, book, or product reviews
- trivia, fun facts, or quizzes
- celebrity gossip and entertainment news
- hobbies and leisure activities, such as gardening tips or knitting patterns
- video game updates and release information
- recipes and cooking techniques that don't involve health claims
- art, photography, or creative writing showcases
There are numerous other YMYL subjects. However, Google states that quality evaluators must exercise their judgment in identifying whether a page falls under YMYL content. These pages must exhibit the highest degree of E-E-A-T.
While E-E-A-T and YMYL may not be direct SEO ranking factors, they are essential aspects to consider when producing high-quality content.
The Future of E-E-A-T
One of the best aspects of SEO is that it continues to evolve and improve how people can access the web pages most relevant to the things they need. SEO will never hit a limit, as there's always something to improve. Whether it's optimizing the algorithm or creating new tools to weed out the bad actors, Google is committed to updating and adjusting its guidelines – which means it's essential your SEO practices can evolve right along with the internet's primary search engine.
E-E-A-T SEO designed to highlight your experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, is the new standard for high-quality websites producing high-quality content. If you're struggling to make the most of these four quality pillars, your website will be struggling to draw in users searching for relevant content who are ready to engage with your brand. Fortunately, the team at Eminent SEO can help.
Consult Eminent SEO for Search Engine Optimization
Whether you're struggling to build a backlink profile, unsure how to create engaging content, need to improve your website authority score, or are creating a website from the bottom up, Eminent SEO can help you generate leads and improve your online marketing strategy. With the help of SEO tools and our knowledge of digital marketing, we can help your business earn trust with Google and gain the visibility you need to meet your organic marketing goals.
Contact us about our expert SEO services.
- Google Developers. (2022, December). Google raters guidelines: E-A-T. Retrieved from https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/12/google-raters-guidelines-e-e-a-t
- Google Inc. (n.d.). Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Retrieved from https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf
- Google Support. (n.d.). Manage your online presence with the Knowledge Panel. Retrieved from https://support.google.com/knowledgepanel/answer/9787176?hl=en
- Google Search Central. (n.d.). How Search algorithms work: Ranking results. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/how-search-works/ranking-results/
- Google Developers. (n.d.). Introduction to ranking systems. Retrieved from https://developers.google.com/search/docs/appearance/ranking-systems-guide