Google ranking is extremely important if you want to show up at the top in Google search results. To achieve this, the most important task is to develop your brand by building trust among the consumers and expertise in the work you do.
Off lately, you must have come across the word E-A-T, which is already used in SEO terminology. Google updated its algorithm in the year 2018 and since then E-A-T has come to the spotlight. This Google update affected majorly the websites which offer medical and health advice, then other verticals. This is the reason this update was named as the “Medic” update.
Let us dig more into E-A-T
In SEO, E-A-T is an acronym for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This term is extremely important to a lot of websites, but not all SEO’s admit that it plays a part in the ranking factor.
But, it has been observed that many websites got badly affected with the Google Quality updates as they did not have the E-A-T. Thus, it is imperative to improve your E-A-T to convert into more traffic and better rankings.
Many YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) websites also got affected by Google ‘medic’ updates. It is like a quality rating for the content. Google is particular about delivering the most relevant and correct information. It does not want to cater to links which share unverified and uneducated advice, in other words, fraud websites.
Google ascertains that it recommends only those websites which show a huge level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, a.k.a. E-A-T. This way Google protects the searchers from content which is unverified and low in quality. Such results can be detrimental and impact a user’s well-being and positivity.
So, if your brand or services come under the category of health, happiness, or wealth, then you definitely require E-A-T to create a positive impact.
Guidelines for Evaluating Google Search Quality
The Google Search Quality Evaluator document contains the terms E-A-T and YMYL. Google released its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in 2015 which gave the ability to recognize a low and high-quality website. The human rating team of Google referred to this document while performing searches for the whole day and determining the top results for those searches. Such spot checks are carried out by a team of 10,000 people at Google.
These spot checks mean the process which is devised to keep a check on the ranking algorithms and their influence in determining the quality of the page.
The conclusions they come out with are fed to Google’s engineers team, who further improve the ranking algorithm. This algorithm is regularly improved and enhanced.
After July 2018, Google made some additions and upgrades which had a huge impact. The people who evaluate the quality of the website now not only review the website’s E-A-T but also the E-A-T of the content creators.
Thus, now Google checks the author of the main content of the page and his/her credentials as per the matter of the subject, especially if the subject is under the YMYL category.
Thus, it is essential to update the E-A-T for both the website and the author. This can be achieved by giving author boxes or links to the profiles of the author, or by using author schema mark-up. These are the structured data which tells about the author and makes it easy for Google to connect with the author via any platform like social media, emails, etc.
Characteristics of a High-quality page, by Google
The page of high-quality must have a beneficial purpose and it should achieve it well. The characteristics of a high-quality page are:
- High level of E-A-T
- A good amount of great quality of the main content, which includes a title and description
- A good and positive website reputation
- The website information must be satisfying or the website owner’s information must be authentic
Characteristics of a Low-quality page, by Google
Low-quality pages are the pages which lack purpose and dimension. Here are its characteristics:
- An incompetent level of E-A-T
- The MC quality is poor
- The amount of main content for the page’s purpose is not satisfactory
- The title is exaggerating
- The website’s reputation or the creator’s reputation is negative
- The information about the website or its creator is unsatisfying
- Ads or SC are distracting from the main content
Let’s Understand Each Term of E-A-T Separately:
E – Expertise
E stands for Expertise in E-A-T, and an expert is someone who is skilful and knowledgeable in a specific area. Having knowledge alone will not help in getting traffic to your website.
It is essential to communicate this knowledge in an engaging way. The best combination of having sound knowledge, knowing what your audience wants, and delivering it in the best possible way is the ideal. The trick is to develop content which is great and innovative and loved by the audience.
You can create awesome content by looking at the answer to these questions:
- What is the intent of the searchers behind the terms they use in the keyword search?
- What is the keyword they are using for search and what are they exactly looking for?
It is vital to understand the understanding stage of the searcher, as a consumer. The situations can be many depending on a particular case. Like, do not use jargon’s and too many technical terms if the searcher is new to the subject.
- Always strike a balance between being all-inclusive and keeping it simple. So, format your text so that it is easy to digest, use audio-visual aids, images, etc.
- Always include the supplementary content and link it internally for easy access. You should determine the next query of the searcher in order to do so.
A – Authority
Having expertise over a subject is the beginning because authority comes when other influencers and experts take your name as a source of information or when your name comes up in relevant topics as a reference.
The Key Performance Indicators to judge authoritativeness are:
- Include links from authoritative and relevant websites, as it will enhance the ranking of the website.
- If you include how you got mentioned in the news or on other authoritative websites it will, in turn, enhance your authoritativeness.
- You can use the Moz Domain Authority score to determine the authority of the website
- You can also use the Majestic ‘trust ratio’ score to determine the authority of the website. A score of around 1.0 means all is going well.
- A content which is shared widely and frequently across social media, it means your authority is growing.
- Another measure is the branded search volume that determines the authority of the brand. More people searching the brand means the brand is coming in authority.
- If you have a Wikipedia page for your brand or for the people employed by you it shows authority because Wikipedia page is not possible until and unless you are recognized and popular.
T – Trustworthiness
Trust is extremely important to build any kind of relationship. Expertise and Authority enhance the rankings, Trustworthiness is important for its maintenance. Lack of trust can even tank your Google rankings.
It is your fundamental and primary duty to charm your customers and address any issues before the things go out of hand. Otherwise, there will be negativity attached to your brand.
Google clearly cites this in its guidelines that too many bad reviews mean poor quality.
If your website garners positive reviews on Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, etc. the trust in your brand will grow manifolds. For ones operating n Mexico, US, or Canada, you should have good reviews on bbb.org. Trustworthiness can be promoted in many ways:
- Correlating your website with a physical location
- Creating a T&C page, easily accessible to the users
- For product websites, include detailed specifications of the product and include a safety manual, if applicable
- For websites which share knowledge, it is better to include the biography of the author or share links to the authority sites.
- Have a clean way to contact the website owners
- Ensure that the domain of your website is secure
- For websites that accept transactions, the policies of returns and refund must be very clear and shared with the user
How does Google determine E-A-T?
Measurement of Links and unlinked mentions
Google is capable of determining which mentions and links to count. If your brand is garnering a lot of press mentions, it will be helpful in enhancing the rankings on Google. Google can determine the difference between the true buzz about your brand or company and the paid buzz. Google knows which one to ignore and only consider true links and mentions.
Knowledge of the mentions to trust
Google uses the Penguin Algorithm (released in 2016) to determine the links that are not from trusted sources and must be ignored. Although some spammers can fool here using the Private Blog Networks (PBNs) and similar tricks. Google uses the algorithm to select the trusted pages which are good and create a network of trusted sites by traversing through the links on that page.
Google itself has created a database of trusted pages and sites and these are recognized for your vertical.
Google has other signals
Google can also deduce from other different signals across the web which work towards the E-A-T.
Influence of E-A-T on Algorithm Updates
Algorithm updates depend a lot on the E-A-T factor and this has been observed previously as well in 2018. When the changes were made in the algorithms, the rankings of thousands of websites changed drastically. In that case, for some websites, the rankings increased and for some, the rankings decreased.
Influence of E-A-T on Broad Core Updates
Google engineers carried out the Broad Core Algorithm update in 2018, into the main algorithm. As a result, several webmasters got confused and paranoid about their rankings because for some the rankings shot up unexpectedly and for others, the rankings fell down drastically.
On this, Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison confirmed and explained that they carry out these routine updates many times in a year. After this explanation, the SEO community’s veterans decided to investigate these updates and found that the domains were missing the key E-A-T signals. This is how it was confirmed that E-A-T influences the Broad Core Updates.
Influence of E-A-T on Medic Update
The Medic Update was the second biggest update that took place in 2018, which was also determined to be the next “broad core update” wherein the ranking of the websites got affected significantly, either upwards or downwards.
All this, because of the E-A-T scoring and other factors. It was investigated that the total and quality of inbound links is one factor, but majorly it was how well business was judged in terms of its expertise level, authority, and trustworthiness, which brought a huge change in the rankings and thus, huge losses in revenue for those whose rankings dripped.
The following kind of websites suffered the most:
- One which had outdated content
- One which already had a bad reputation
- One whose content was written by naïve and incompetent authors
- One whose return and refund policies were unclear and whose contact information was undisclosed
Consequences of Ignoring E-A-T
Businesses which ignore E-A-T have incurred huge losses in terms of visitors and eventually /revenues. For instance, DrAxe.com lost approximately 10million monthly visits, Prevention.com lost approximately 5 million monthly visits; due to which their rankings dropped from a cliff and incurred huge loss in the revenues. Their visitors dropped overnight and all this is irrespective of their business models.
What would happen if your sales dropped overnight by around two-thirds? Hard to imagine the losses. How will you pay for the premises, to your staff, for supplies, etc? The whole financial planning for the year will go in the bin with mass layoffs and non-payment of bills. That’s a scary thought, but businesses have suffered this for real only because they ignored E-A-T.
There are several such examples of flourishing businesses which became rags from riches, overnight. They are frantic about the E-A-T and are thriving to put things in place and rise again.
Is E-A-T Factor some Magic?
If the Medic and Brackets updates impacted you negatively, then E-A-T is not a magic factor. No one can provide you with some hack to get your website back to what it was before the updates.
Nor can anyone promise a future broad core algorithm which will improve the E-A-T. when dealing with digital marketing and SEO, no one can promise whether things will go as per required. But, you can always make improvements and necessary changes to provide you with good returns on your money and time.
Small, incremental changes can bring out small improvements on a daily basis and significant changes in the long run. Moreover, with SEO you will observe the best Return on Investment after twelve months or so.
The arithmetic works like this – if you make 1% improvements every day for the next year, you will observe a 37x improvement from where you stand at present. If you just sit and do nothing, you will make things worse each day, i.e. 1% decrease in work by 365 days in the year, you will be 96% worse off the present day. That is quite a deal to handle.
For example, there was a client whose business was selling services in the finance space and was facing problems with trust and reliability. In identifying the issues, the team came up with the strategy to create positive awareness of their brand and improve customer’s knowledge by updating the website content to relevant, informative content.
These slow and steady improvements made each day, picked up the brand’s reputation, ranking, traffic, and thus revenue.
Improving E-A-T for SEO
The first battle is determining that you have a problem with E-A-T, once you are sure of it, then it will be easy to optimize your website. Here is a checklist of the small changes that you can make to your website to improve the E-A-T.
Auditing your brand is the first step in improving E-A-T. You can do this by finding out what people think and say about your website or business because it is this that real people in the world will make or break your brand.
You can ask your existing customers, listen to their concerns or appreciation, ask about their experiences, what they liked and what they didn’t? Cross-check on your website to get a clear and transparent view as per your customer’s feedback.
Start with the home page and see how captivating, yet clearly it is, what image it portrays of you, does it look promising, are there accreditation from professionals which prove you are genuine, highlights of your achievements, your professionalism, and that one distinct thing which stands you out, etc.
After home page, go to the next most important page – About page. This page will give a clear picture of you, your brand, and of the business which you run. Look for answers for – who are you, what are the values of your company, for how long is this business running, etc. you should have the company’s history like when and how it was formed. It should have the values and principles followed by the company, etc. so that it builds up a brand sentiment.
The next step is to see whether you are promoting your team and the people who work for you. Give details of the CEO, and other officials working for the company, their experiences, whom to contact in certain scenarios, etc. All your employees and you, whether one or many, together make a team and make things work.
Every personal part of your company that you share is imagined as a real person by the target audience and they can connect well. ensure that the customers can easily reach out to you and give all the Contact details clearly on the website.
Keep a check on your social media reputation as they will enhance sales to a great extent. One unhappy client will tell many others and this can hamper the reputation of the brand. So anything wrong being talked about you should be addressed right away and try to avoid that mistake in future.
Existing Content’s Audit
Your content is the first thing that visitors see on the website. Ensure that your website’s content is up-to-date and not old. Do not go with the word count of your content, instead strive for satisfying the needs of the person. Audit your existing content and imagine yourself to be a customer.
Do you like what you read? If no, then either revise the content to match up to the expectations or simply remove the irrelevant content. If it is possible to enhance your content with some minor changes then do so as the earliest. So, recycle the content and update its validity so that the visitors know they are looking at fresh, updated, and relevant information.
Content Creation Framework
After correcting the existing content, make a framework for your future content as well. you need a task list to future-proof your work for E-A-T. Ensure that extensive research is done for your content and is written proficiently by including links to other pages on your website or domains. The content should satisfy the customer’s need and should not be written just for ranking purposes.
If you are not able to handle the research and content writing part due to other work commitments, you can always hire experts. You can hire a team of professional writers and researchers, freelancers, or some agency. But, make sure you validate and sign-off that content yourself and then publish it under your own name. you can also publish the content with the author’s name and adding ‘Expertly Verified by..’.
Promotion of Onsite
It is advised to promote your expertise and build trust in the visitors. If more people see your brand and your level of expertise, they will believe you more. Make an About Page or/and a Team Page and promote your employees, citing their positions, their experience, and level of expertise, etc. You will see several websites, like Healthline, VeryWellHealth, etc. which promotes their managerial staff, content writers, researchers, etc. They also provide an outbound link to these people’s social media profiles to build trust.
Promotion of Offsite
After promoting your staff and employees, it is also advised to spread the message by asking your existing customers to help you. Ask your customers to leave a review of your services or products that they have used and link that review to Google My Business Page. Link those reviews to Reviews.co.uk, TrustPilot, Feefo, etc.
You can also ask customers to write reviews on your company’s Facebook page. Every single review you receive will help you build trust and reputation.
In the future of SEO, it will get easier for the people to find out about you from customer reviews. Promote your experts by asking them to write for your brand, speak at events and conferences, appear on podcasts, etc.
Easy Access and Understanding
In today’s Mobile Age, a website should be easily accessed from a mobile device and Google has also started considering Mobile-first index for tis results. This implies a website will rank well if it performs well on a mobile device too. The websites being developed in today’s time must be designed for mobile devices as well. Whatever be the medium – laptop, desktop, mobile device, your website should be clear and easily navigable.
Do not use too much of advertising as it can be distracting from the main content and intent of the website. A few ads are fine with Google but too many can go against deceptive advertising.
Moreover, the website should be fast and easy to load, It should be easy to navigate and comprehend.
Improve 1% Everyday
Never ever stop making small improvements to your website. You can optimize the E-A-T every day for SEO. It may take a bit longer to see the results, but you will surely get there. Make a commitment of improving by 1% on a daily basis, like one day you can only work on the Home page, the next day switch to the About page, and so on.
Thereafter start auditing your content and go on. Always invest in your content, expertise, and team and the E-A-T you will establish will boost your rankings manifolds and give more revenue.
Ways of Improving E-A-T:
We now know that E-A-T is a crucial part of Google’s Algorithm and in its absence ranking can be hard. you can always improve upon the E-A-T, as follows:
Garner positive reviews
Online reputation about your brand or business matters a lot. The overall public sentiment for your business is important for improving E-A-T. you should search for the reviews, posts, discussions, and forums written by the people for the website.
Earn Wikipedia mentions
Anything mentioned on Wikipedia will be recognized by Google. Getting your own Wikipedia page is not a cakewalk as it makes sure all the information about your company is verified and the business has got considerable coverage from trusted sources.
If there are positive mentions about your website on Wikipedia pages, it will help improve the E-A-T as well. You can also edit the Wikipedia page and mention about your website, but you should be careful as if Wikipedia perceives that you are self-promoting, it will remove the link right away.
Earn mentions on authoritative sites
This is an essential feature of Google E-A-T. If your mentions across the web are true and not paid by you, your E-A-T will boost. You may have a news article from a reputed news site, or you can search for references, recommendations by experts, and other conclusive data about the website; it will boost the rankings.
Have mentions on Forums
The mention in the forums can enhance the rankings of your website. Google can easily determine which forum mentions are worth adding to the E-A-T and which are not. If your competitors are mentioned in the forums but not you, this means you are not recognized as an authority. Thus weak E-A-T.
Build trust with your consumers so that they only talk good about you and mention you where required. You should be able to impact positively in their happiness and well-being.
Demonstrate your E-A-T
You can add about your website’s and even the author’s E-A-T on the About or Home page of the website and should be easily accessible to the user.
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Final Verdict: The Definitive Guide To E-A-T and SEO 2021
It is clear from the above review how essential E-A-T, how it can be improved, and how it can affect the ranking of your website. If your website deals with sharing information on health, medical, and/or financial matters, then you must have an E-A-T for Google so that it recommends your website to the searcher.
Google is very particular about sharing only the true and verified information with its searchers and does not tolerate fake news especially in health, happiness, and finance verticals. If you follow the E-A-T framework in digital marketing, it implies you are following an integrated approach to build and develop without shortcuts.
In the present times, you cannot just start shining on Google’s results page overnight because you should follow the E-A-T criteria and positively grow your brand and have a positive online presence. With the correct approach and high E-A-T, you can rank at the top of Google search results.