What is E-A-T? (and What Does it Have to Do with SEO?)
It’s not news that Google rewards quality, but unless you understand the metric being used to measure that quality, you might miss the mark.
In the world of SEO, higher rankings are awarded to businesses who publish regular and quality content. But, what is quality content exactly?
Well, the official answer can be found by reading Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines, but in short, content with a strong emphasis on E-A-T is what Google wants to rank well. These three factors, which stand for Expertise, Authority, and Trust, are what the search engine uses to determine how much trust it should place in a business or website. Each word within the acronym represents a metric to assess a brand’s claim to be an authority or leader in their field.
Improving a brand’s E-A-T should be viewed as a win-win SEO tactic. Not only will the business be recognized and promoted by Google, but it will also result in improved trust and credibility by their target audience. As a matter of fact, the term “high-quality” in reference to content, is quickly being replaced by “high E-A-T”.
Here is a closer look at each E-A-T component:
If you have deep knowledge about an industry, service, or product, and if you can demonstrate that your level of knowledge exceeds that of your competition, then chances are you are crushing the first metric of E-A-T. Google examines each page of your website to determine if they demonstrate a higher level of expertise than other sites or pages, and then rates you accordingly.
Here’s what you can do to optimize for Expertise:
- Enlist various subject matter experts to write content to be posted on your site
- Solidify and promote those experts’ subject matter expertise on other sites
- Include your and your experts’ credentials, certifications, and industry awards in your content
While Expertise measures the validity of your knowledge or skill level, Authority is all about whether or not you are the leading or best source for the information that users are seeking. When someone is on the hunt for information, they want to feel confident that they are taking advice from an authoritative source on the topic.
To optimize for Authority, it’s best to shoot for backlinks to your site, external mentions and ratings, and reviews from outside sources, like Yelp or the Better Business Bureau.
Anyone can create a lot of content and post it online, but if it’s not deemed trustworthy by Google, then you will not climb the ranks. Trustworthiness makes it harder for scammers to create fake sites and illegitimate brands.
To measure your level of trustworthiness, Google looks for evidence that it can trust you, like:
- Having a prominent About Us page
- Having an accessible Contact Us page
- Always citing your sources
Why is E-A-T so important?
Think of it this way. What would you do if you felt your financial advisor lacked expertise, authority, and trust? You’d probably start looking around for a new financial advisor. The same holds true for users on Google. When they land on a page that lacks these three factors, they’ll quickly hit the back button and look elsewhere.
Google wants to reduce the number of instances like this, so it is actively training its algorithm to assess these three metrics and is using them to determine if a site is, in fact, trustworthy and a fit for its users’ inquiries. Those who fail to meet these criteria will be replaced by businesses and websites who do, and this type of demotion will result in lost rankings, traffic, and revenue.
These requirements to deliver the highest level of quality are even more stringent for certain industries, specifically those that fall into the YMYL category. This acronym stands for Your Money, Your Life, and it categorizes industries and search queries that may result in the user entrusting their money or life (like health and wellness) to you. These pages must be created by trusted, authoritative experts on the topic at hand.
The E-A-T standards are not going to sound particularly novel to anyone who has been doing SEO for any length of time. These are best practices that any SEO professional would advise you to follow. That said, Google is actively working to find ways to measure these factors more precisely, and it will only continue to pick up steam in that regard. The best rule of thumb is to build your sites with users in mind because that is what Google wants to see. If you post quality content written by proven subject matter experts, establish authority via reviews and link building, and remain a reliable, trustworthy source, then your E-A-T score is safe, and your rankings will reflect that.
9Sail can help enhance your E-A-T score and create a long-term SEO strategy that will drive results. Contact us for a free site audit.