Every year we seem to get a new buzzword, or more often than not, a buzz acronym. This year, it’s definitely “E-A-T”. Whilst for many SEOs, this is not a new buzzword, it’s certainly been brought front and centre in 2019 thanks to the August 2018 Google Update, known as ‘the medic update’.
E-A-T stands for ‘Expertise, Authority and Trust’ – three pretty important things to consider for SEOs when creating content. As the internet becomes more and more saturated with content, Google has had to change the way content is ranked. Instead of just creating content and ranking overnight, you now have to work harder to build your brand online (and off). The way to do this is to build your expertise, authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of both Google and the end-user.
The Medic Update
E-A-T has been a part of the Google Quality Raters Guidelines (QRG) for some time now. Way back in February 2017, they released an updated version of the QRG that included details about the importance of E-A-T for websites and this was the first time SEOs really started to pay attention to the need to focus on building E-A-T on their site (and for individual authors – more of that later).
In August 2018, Google’s algorithm update, widely referred to as the ‘Medic Update’ really brought the QRG front and centre. Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed to webmasters who had been stung by the update that the QRG was a great source of information for recovering from the update and to focus on the elements that referred to E-A-T.
Your Money or Your Life – another acronym!
Another acronym that came to the forefront as part of the Medic Update was YMYL. This stands for Your Money or Your Life and refers to websites that provide content on finance, health and happiness. These sites are particularly impacted if they do not meet the requirements of E-A-T – in other words, if you have no expertise, authority or trustworthiness on these topics then you are at risk of being penalised by Google.
Within the QRG, you can find this passage:
It could be argued that any site involves some degree of YMYL, especially if you have some element of e-commerce on your site. You are being trusted that the product you are selling online is of a certain quality standard and as the seller, you should be the expert and the authority on that. This can be something as simple as ensuring your site, especially the checkout page, is on https. Again, a lack of E-A-T is also covered in the QRG:
Whether your site is formally identified as YMYL (finance, legal or health) or you are selling any product or service, the importance of E-A-T cannot be underestimated. So, the next question to answer is how do you build your E-A-T and how do you ensure Google recognises this?
How to improve your E-A-T
We can see that a lack of E-A-T makes it very difficult for your website to rank well. Improving on your E-A-T is something that should be part of your SEO strategy moving forward and below, we’ve highlighted 5 ways to improve your E-A-T that you can get to work on today.
1. Get more links and unlinked mentions
If link outreach is already a key part of your SEO strategy, this is a chance to kill off two birds with one stone. Links from trustworthy sites are a great way of building your own E-A-T. Getting links from high DA websites, which by nature have a high level of E-A-T can only help you to build your own E-A-T.
It’s not just links either. Unlinked brand/author mentions can also really help. Getting your business mentioned in the press, especially when the article refers to key areas of your business, can really help to build the authority and trustworthiness of your website.
Google has already said that it has a pretty good understanding of the links and mentions which they trust and ones which they know to ignore so the more of a buzz you can generate around your business, the better chance you have of improving your E-A-T.
2. Get good reviews
What people say about your or your business online matters. It matters to your prospective customers, but it also really matters to Google. The QRG advises that users search for as many reviews as possible for a business across a wide range of platforms. The content in the reviews is also important, not just the number.
Reviews are a strong indicator to Google about the reputation of your business and therefore, they are an indicator of your trustworthiness. We have recently included a detailed analysis of the reviews of all our clients and looked at this alongside their main competitors. Understanding the review space in a particular industry is important and there are a few things you need to look out for:
- Do your competitors have significantly more reviews than you? If so, this could be an indicator that they are more of an authority than you in the sector
- How do your overall review scores compare? If your competitors have a much higher volume of positive reviews, this again can be a sign of trust and authority
- Where are your competitors getting reviews? All on Google or across a wide range of platforms including sites like Trust Pilot or Rankers. Reviews from a wide range of trusted review sites will help to build your E-A-T
3. Include author names and biographies in all editorial content
E-A-T is not just about your website as a whole, it’s also about the people you have writing for you. The QRG are very clear on this:
Building your own personal brand online is also important. Some of the same principals apply when it comes to building individual E-A-T. Getting links and mentions from authoritative websites, getting reviews, receiving awards for your writing etc can all be signs of individual E-A-T. There are of course ways to raise your individual online profile:
- Look for guest post opportunities on high authority sites within your sector
- Publish original research and distribute this to relevant interested parties
- Set up HARO (Help a Reporter Out) alerts and submit content to help journalists to create content pieces
- Create connections with authority figures in your particular field
If you are writing content for your own website, make sure to include a bio so that you can showcase your expertise and authority on a topic. This is particularly important in YMYL sectors.
4. Get mentions on Wikipedia
Google definitely sees Wikipedia as an authoritative source for links and mentions. In the past, SEOs have often ignored the potential of Wikipedia because all of the links are nofollowed, however with the recent update to the way link attributes will be handled, it’s more than likely that links and mentions on Wikipedia will carry even more weight than they currently do.
The QRG cite Wikipedia in a number of places and advise people to use Wikipedia (and others) as a way of checking on the reputation of an individual or business:
If you want to take things a step further, try and get your company set up with their own page on Wikipedia. This is notoriously difficult to do as Wikipedia has very strict guidelines and requirements in place for businesses who want to appear which include:
- All information about your company has to be verifiable
- The business has to have received significant coverage from reliable sources
Meeting both of these requirements definitely ticks Google’s boxes when it comes to E-A-T – reliable and verifiable are two words that are heavily linked to expertise, authority and trust and so Google and Wikipedia go hand in hand when it comes to E-A-T.
5. Cut out the cruft
We’ve already talked about the need to build individual reputations when publishing content on a website, however, there is the overall E-A-T of the website to consider. Therefore, it’s important to carry out a full review of the content on your website and identify any content that is low on E-A-T and look to either repurpose that content, adding to the E-A-T, or to remove that content.
Individual content that scores low E-A-T can pull down the overall E-A-T of a website so it’s important to carry out regular audits and ensure that all the content you are publishing meets the requirements for E-A-T. If you have low quality pages that lack E-A-T, but that drive significant traffic to your site, make sure you get ahead of the curve and look to bring in an expert to add E-A-T to the piece. This will reduce the chances of your content being flagged whilst maintaining that traffic you have fought hard to build up.
There are heaps of great articles out there relating to E-A-T, not to mention the Google Quality Raters Guidelines. Hopefully the information above, coupled with the QRG and some further reading will help to ensure that your content is meeting the requirements of E-A-T and you can help to build both your individual and website’s reputations online.