E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) is one of the most ambiguous topics in the SEO world. It is often the biggest conversation point to circulate after a major Google Core Update – especially in YMYL (Your Money Your Life) industries.
But, how will you implement E-A-T to rank a content?
Most of the insight we hear is not much more than theory.
Additionally, we normally hear the same cookie-cutter advice like, “create high-quality content that is relevant to your audience’s questions!”
While there is certainly truth to this, it’s empty words.
Honestly, when was creating high-quality, relevant content ever NOT the goal in content creation/SEO?
In a recent episode of The Marketing Microscope, our in-house podcast, we had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Marie Haynes, SEO expert and Google Update Recovery extraordinaire.
Haynes recently had a post on E-A-T recommended on the Google Webmaster Blog, something that the search engine giant rarely does with SEO experts!
In this discussion, we got a lot of good insight on how to improve the E-A-T tied to a piece of content; of which I would like to share in this post.
Let’s discuss how you can implement E-A-T within your content to put it in a better position to rank on the organic SERPs.
Google has taken many strides in recent years to devalue content created by non-experts, especially YMYL content.
Think about it: If someone with the little-to-no financial background was boldly trying to tell you how and where to invest your money, would you listen to them?
What about someone with no medical background telling you which medicine to take?
Hopefully, you would take their advice with a grain of salt – or just walk away and get in touch with a professional.
This same concept applies to how Google ranks content on the organic SERPs. Google is well aware that people these days turn to them for answers about pretty much everything. They don’t want to serve content that doesn’t provide expert answers.
So how can you show Google that you’re an expert?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this; it will vary from industry-to-industry.
YMYL organizations generally have it the toughest here. Google typically holds them to the highest standard in the never-ending quest to eliminate misinformation.
For instance, if you are giving financial, legal, or medical advice, you will more than likely need the credentials to back it up.
Let’s ask Google a health-related question, “should I try keto?”
Here are the top 3 results:
Let’s click on the article written on EverydayHealth.com. Here is the author bio of the person who medically reviewed the post:
You can see that her credentials, education, experience, goals, and values are presented clearly. It’s evident that the post was created with a certified expert, and in turn, is ranked highly in the organic search results.
Marie Haynes believes that Google may look into publically available data to help determine the credibility of authors/entities on the web. There are tons of informational streams out there that Google can use to better understand what it is that defines an expert – and rank their content accordingly.
Now, while this is all theory, it’s very possible that Google crawls a piece of content, identifies the author/entity, then scours public data to find what exactly gives them the right to provide information on the topic.
Let’s say you are a doctor that recently published a piece of content on the early symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Is it plausible that Google would scour public data to find information like your medical degree, which institution you received it from, the research you have published, among other things related to your medical background?
Absolutely! As they should!
Google’s underlying goal with E-A-T is to weed out unreliable content, especially in YMYL industries – as there can be detrimental effects if the reader follows bad advice.
So what’s the move?
Ultimately, improving expertise involves showing Google that you have the knowledge to back up what you’re talking about.
Going beyond YMYL industries, we believe one of the most important factors is simply showcasing the results that confirm your credibility in the field.
If you write a post about how to manage a Pay-Per-Click campaign, do you have results that show your success in Pay-Per-Click?
To help Google better understand your expertise (and rank your content accordingly), we recommend doing the following:
- Make your credentials clear and easy to find on the web. Maybe this is on your social media profiles and/or author bios.
- Publish case studies/research in your name that proves you know what you’re talking about.
- Cite data from credible, well-known institutions.
Expertise relates to how you present yourself on the web. Authority, on the other hand, is how other people in the field perceive you.
Humans tend to gravitate towards the herd mentality. This is why factors like online reviews, testimonials, and other forms of social proof are so important in purchasing decisions.
Ultimately, you can say anything you want about yourself. If other people and credible figures don’t recognize your expertise, how valuable is it?
Authority of a website or piece of content is largely based on links and mentions on high-value sites from other experts. These act as an endorsement of your expertise.
Now, links and mentions are not apples-to-apples in terms of how impactful the endorsement is.
Think of it this way:
Say you run an Italian restaurant. Having a mega-celebrity like LeBron James publically praise your restaurant is awesome (and would probably help your revenue).
But in the eyes of E-A-T, how much authority does LeBron James have in the Italian culinary scene? Probably not much – at least to my knowledge.
On the other hand, receiving public praise from Italian chefs like Giada De Laurentiis or Giorgio Locatelli would add a GIANT amount of credibility to your restaurant and its authority in the Italian dining niche.
The same concept applies to the E-A-T (no pun intended) of your content.
So how can you judge your content’s authoritativeness?
Authoritativeness can be judged by several factors:
- Inbound links from related, high-authority websites. You can find this information in Search Console.
- Mentions from experts in your industry. Use a tool like Buzzsumo or Brandwatch to find these.
- Shares. If your content is getting a good amount of shares, this means that people are finding it valuable enough to relay to their network – which adds to your authority.
- Branded search volume. If a lot of people are searching for your name or brand, this is a big indicator that you are an authority.
Building authority is a slow, never-ending process. Moreover, timeliness plays a big factor.
In our podcast with Marie Haynes, she told us that the authority of her veterinarian website is declining – as she no longer practices and doesn’t get new mentions and inbound links.
The key to improving this aspect of E-A-T comes down to your ability to gain high-value endorsements on a consistent basis.
Trustworthiness can be viewed as the support beams that hold your expertise and authoritativeness up. Expertise and authority are crucial for boosting rankings, whereas the lack of trustworthiness can kill your rankings!
Building trustworthiness with your website/content comes down to a number of overarching factors – both in terms of sentiment and accessibility.
Here are the major ones to take into account:
- A number of positive reviews on high-authority platforms. This involves sites like the Better Business Bureau, Google My Business, Facebook, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, and so on. If the general consensus is that your organization provides genuine value, don’t scam people, and has honest practices, this should help your trustworthiness.
In fact, Moz’s research indicates that review signals make up 15% of Google’s local pack ranking factors!
- Clearly listed contact information. It should be easy for people to get in touch with you.
- Association of the website with a physical address – updated Google My Business information.
- Clear and easy-to-find terms and conditions page.
- HTTPS secure website.
- Secure transactions. If you sell products, the checkout process should be 100% safe.
4 Question Areas to Ask Yourself with Each Piece of Content
Google recently released an official Core Algorithm Update Guidance piece written by Danny Sullivan. Being as how Google is famously quiet about what all goes into their algorithms, this was an interesting development.
Given the close ties between E-A-T and Core updates, there are many areas of this guide that business owners and SEOs should take into consideration.
One of the most beneficial parts of this guide was the question areas to ask with each piece of content to help gauge its quality and relevance.
In the Core Algorithm Update Guidance, Sullivan outlines four key question areas to address with every piece of content.
- Content and quality questions
- Expertise questions
- Presentation and production questions
- Comparative questions
These types of questions are nothing new in the SEO world.
However, they need to play a prominent role in how you gauge/improve the E-A-T of your content.
So what exactly are these “question areas?”
Moreover, what are the actual questions you should be asking yourself?
Truth be told, a lot of it comes down to common sense.
Content and Quality Questions
For starters, when assessing the content and quality, would people recognize your brand page as an authority in the field?
When you look at blog posts from brands like Moz, SEMrush, Neil Patel, Search Engine Journal, etc., you (more than likely) know that the content is going to be top-shelf quality before you even click on the link.
Why is this?
These websites have prioritized content creation since day one. The posts on these sites are well known for the following characteristics:
- Easy to understand.
- Concepts are explained clearly and thoroughly.
- Adds something new (doesn’t regurgitate previously written content).
- Uses lots of imagery to supplement points.
- Crafted around pressing questions.
- Points are backed up with credible and timely data.
Thanks to these factors (and a plethora of others), users tend to trust content coming from these sites. So, follow up questions to measure your content and quality could be:
- Is my content easy to understand?
- Are my concepts explained clearly and thoroughly with no gray areas?
- Does my content add value that hasn’t been written about before?
- Is there a healthy amount of imagery to supplement my points?
- Is this content created to answer pressing questions?
- Am I using credible and timely data?
Gauging expertise largely comes down to the credibility of the author and the reliability of their messaging. A lot of this is going to rehash what we discussed earlier about credentials.
- What qualifies the author to write a piece of content on this subject?
- Is it easy (for Google) to find their credentials?
- Is the content free of factual errors?
- Is the website known for having industry-respected authors?
Presentation and Production Questions
Presentation and production questions are going to relate more to the technical aspects of your website.
- Does the page load quickly?
- Does the design look fresh (not outdated)?
- Is it responsive?
- Is the content free of broken links?
- Do all the interactive components (if applicable) work properly?
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that impede the experience?
- Does the content seem to be thrown together or is it clear that it was produced with time and effort?
- Is the content free of stylistic, spelling, or grammatical errors?
Getting into the comparison questions, this is where you need to be super objective and critical of how your content matches up to other pages in the search results.
- Does it provide substantial value in comparison to other high-ranking content?
- Does it actually serve the interests of the user or was it created purely for search engine rankings?
- How does the first impression of your content compare to others in the search results?
Now, it can be tough to assess your content from an unbiased perspective. After all, you (hopefully) put your heart and soul into creating the content; it’s easy to genuinely believe yours is the best.
In the podcast, Marie Haynes gave us a good tidbit here.
She said to run a small focus group of people not connected to your business. Take your content and two or three pieces of similar content.
Have them look over each piece and ask them which website they would spend their money with? Then ask them why?
You might be surprised at the answers you get!
The process of genuinely implementing E-A-T within your content is not difficult. If you’ve got the knowledge, experience, credentials, commitment, and have invested in the technical aspects of your platform, you shouldn’t have many issues – even in YMYL industries.
However, trying to imitate E-A-T for the purpose of ranking highly in organic search is getting harder, and rightfully so.
At the end of the day, people turn to search engines for the most reliable answers. Not providing the best content written by the most qualified people would be doing a disservice to the faithful users.
When it comes to incorporating the values tied to E-A-T, the most important thing to have is the capability to look at your content through an unbiased lens. The questions you need to answer get up close and personal with your website, author profile, the value you add, and so on.
Ultimately, your ability to gauge these factors critically (and adjust accordingly) is the deciding factor in how E-A-T either benefits or compromises your organic rankings.