This is 2022, and you have opened to read this guide, I like to guess and hope that my guess is correct you are in charge of managing SEO for your website and you are looking for ways to improve your ranking in the search engine. You want to impress Google, right? I will teach you how.
Now tell me, what aspect would you wish to improve in search engine rankings? If you already serve quality and unique content to the search engine, do you need anything else?
A resounding yes! Google considers the expertise of the content creator, the search engine giant is regularly progressing in the way it evaluates sites and where they rank, it considers a lot beyond quality content.
It considers the trustworthiness & authoritativeness of the website.
the search engine giant puts an investigative eye on all of these three-Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT)
Before we dive deep into understanding E-A-T and how it impacts your search visibility & ranking, you should consider quality raters guidelines (QRG), as formally published by Google.
Quality raters guideline is a 175 pages document created for highly trained quality raters with one main purpose of rating websites.
Here’s a brief on how it helps Google to improve its search performance:
Quality raters from all over the world are primarily responsible for rating various web pages using extensive guidelines (a.k.a QRG).
QRG trains these quality raters with a comprehensive set of characteristics that differentiate a high-quality webpage from a low-quality webpage.
Ultimately, feedback from the rating of thousands of quality raters is used to enhance the search algorithm.
Point to consider that those quality rater ratings on various sites & web pages don’t have any direct impact on the individual’s search rankings.
Rather, these ratings help Google to understand whether it is already showing high-quality pages on SERP results. If not, then Googlers (full-time Google corporation employees) work on improving the algorithm.
Some of the key highlights that make QRG a must-read for all SEOs:
#1. Characteristics of high-quality pages
#2. Why certain webpages will be considered a low-quality page
#3. Understanding copied content
#4. A ton of examples of high and low-quality pages
#5.Page quality criteria
#6. Important factors for page quality rating
#7. And E-A-T
So If you are serious about your site’s SEO and don’t want your search visibility to get killed by Google’s EAT algorithm, then consider analyzing the ‘quality raters guideline’ as an assignment for you.
What is EAT in SEO?
EAT represents expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These are three essential factors that Google considers while deciding the rank of your site. So, by working to improve your E-A-T, you will ultimately improve your SEO & boost your rank.
Here’s what I know- E-A-T is not a ranking factor, but a defining component of Google’s Search Quality Raters.
While there is nothing like an “E-A-T score” or anything like that, we can say that the quality guidelines are utilized by humans in determining the value of a given webpage, & those humans are used to train Google’s machine learning algorithms so it too can learn about quality.
The Role of E-A-T in the Search Engine
In February 2019, Google published a whitepaper spelling out its commitment to addressing the deliberate spread of misinformation across its products, including Google Search, YouTube, Google News, and Google’s advertising platforms.
Google is proactively fighting falsehood by using algorithms that focus on “measurable signals” that signal whether a webpage displays expertise, trustworthiness, or authoritativeness about the content it shares.
While Google’s ranking system does not attempt to authenticate the accuracy of the information presented, it is designed to identify websites that display high levels of E-A-T.
Evidence submits that since early 2017, many websites have seen drops in traffic following core Google algorithm updates that were likely related to E-A-T.
If you believe your website has been negatively affected by a core algorithm update, Google recommends that you familiarize yourself with the concept of E-A-T & with the Quality Rater Guidelines.
E-A-T and YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) Sites
Your Money or Your Life content is the type of information that, if presented inaccurately, untruthfully, or falsely, could directly impact the reader’s happiness, safety, health, or financial stability.
To put it in another way, the stakes are high for this type of content. If you create a YMYL page with poor advice or bad information, it could affect people’s lives & livelihoods.
Google takes this content exceedingly seriously. Experts with pertinent expertise need to write YMYL content.
The Quality Rater Guidelines indicate that some types of websites could potentially influence the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.
Google refers to these types of pages as “Your Money or Your Life” pages, a category that was introduced in 2014.
YMYL sites include those related to financial transactions or information, medical & legal information, & news articles & other information sites “that are important for having an informed citizenry.”
For these YMYL pages, Google understands that users expect them to operate with our strictest standards of trustworthiness and safety. For this reason, E-A-T is given more weight in Google’s ranking system when it comes to YMYL sites.
Types of E-A-T
There are mainly two types of E-A-T and they include:
#1. publisher / Website E-A-T
#2. Author E-A-T
It’s important to pay attention to both author E-A-T & website E-A-T. If your website has a lot of demonstrated authority, but you are hiring writers who aren’t subject matter specialists you could hurt your overall E-A-T efforts.
Think about it: If you are looking for nutrition information, would you rather read an article written by a nutritionist with 9 years of clinical experience or one written by an SEO copywriter engaged to write content targeting certain keywords?
I am as sure as the gospel that you will go with the first option placed before you, and I tell you what, the latter approach may have worked fine in the past, however, with Google’s new importance placed on E-A-T, algorithms will prioritize articles written by people who are known subject matter experts than ones written only to score points in the search engine.
The Quality Raters Guidelines are full of examples of both high-quality & low-quality content from real YMYL websites. Let’s look at the following examples:
High-quality medical content: An article about meningitis from the Mayo Clinic website. According to the QRG, the content appears on a trustworthy & authoritative website for a nonprofit medical research group.
The Mayo Clinic has a reputation for being one of the most reliable web resources for medical information.
Low-quality medical content: An article about how long the flu lasts from a site called Life123. This article lacks E-A-T: there is no evidence that the author has expertise in the medical line.
Because this is a YMYL article of a medical field, a lack of expertise leads to a low ranking.
So, what constitutes YMYL topics? Google gives a rundown in section 2.3:
#1. News & current events on topics like business, politics, science, and technology
#2. Government, law, & civics-related topics (voting, legal issues, social services, government bodies, etc.)
#3. Financial advice on taxes, retirement, investments, loans, and more.
#4. Shopping information, like researching purchases
#5. Medical advice, information on drugs, hospitals, emergencies, and more.
#6. Information on people of a particular nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, sexuality, and more.
There are a lot of other YMYL topics, but Google says quality evaluators need to use their discretion to determine whether a page qualifies as YMYL content.
How to Improve E-A-T
Now that you understand what E-A-T is & why it’s important, how can you improve your E-A-T?
Now you know that if your content isn’t fantastic as well as easy to use, it’s going to slip down the ranks and that’s enough to drive any SEO professional insane.
While there are many steps you can take to demonstrate E-A-T on your site, that likely won’t be enough for Google to consider you a subject matter specialist.
Enhancing your E-A-T involves demonstrating your expertise both on & off your online properties.
If you aren’t already an expert in your industry, it’s going to be a challenge to establish E-A-T. You may need to engage or partner with a subject matter specialist while you take steps to get more qualifications or certifications in your field, join professional organizations, attend conferences, and conduct or publish original research to grow your expertise.
We may not have the exact knowledge of the metrics Google rely on to rank articles but we do know one thing Google wants to see in our content. (it’s the same thing our readers want to see.)
Are you giving readers quality content to E-A-T? That is what Google needs to be fed with too to E-A-T and rank your content. Bribe the search engine with quality content and see you get recognized and ranked.
Here are five things you must do right now to make sure that you are noticed by Google.
#1. Include Clear Sources and Credits
Focus: Authority, Trustworthiness.
The advice to always acknowledge our sources finds roots right from our first grades in primary school because plagiarism detection is a death blow for content even when it’s unintended.
Sources and credits take on an extra level of importance in content writing because they affect your SERPs. Whenever you link to a site, you gesture to Google that you believe the source is credible.
If you are linking to websites of dubious reputation or information or delivering broken links, Google will notice and hurt your efforts.
However, when it comes to sources and credits, the links you use aren’t the only thing with which you must bother about.
You must also add credits for graphics as well as for the author of the content itself.
Including author names and bios is highly recommended when you are writing YMYL content.
In the case where content can drastically impact someone’s life, Google evaluators want to make sure that you have got the right credentials to be offering such advice.
Improve your E-A-T by using sources & credits strategically in the following ways
#1. Craft an author bio that showcases your credentials & expertise in the industry you are creating content for.
#2. Link to sources from domain names with authority or make use of the nofollow tag.
#3. Leverage statistics & link to original research whenever possible.
#4. Cite opinion leaders & other authorities in your industry.
#2. Leverage Your Content Differentiation Factor
Focus: Expertise & Authority
Your content must be unique and different.
Just like every brand has a unique selling proposition, every content writer has a content differentiation factor.
The unique angle you approach a topic is your content differentiation factor.
You need to find that magnet perspective– something that engages eyeballs & motivates customers to convert.
If leveraged correctly, it’s also one of the sure ways to establish your expertise & authority in your industry while setting yourself permanently apart from your competitors.
There are various angles to take that uncover you as a thought leader in your industry. Once that is laid, you have got a solid and promising foundation for your content house to tower and flourish.
I will show you a few ways to get started:
#1. concentrate on your brand’s mission: Instead of what your products do. Identify how you help people differently than others in your industry, & why.
#2. Identify your audience: Get to know them and discover what specific needs or desires you fulfill better than your competitors.
#3. Look inward to find why you are passionate about what you do: Did some event motivate you to start this brand?
#3. Audit & Update Your Content
Digital content is neat: Unlike a book, once it’s published, it’s not set in stone. You can go back & edit, update or modify what’s there.
Yet, for some reason, a lot of people treat blogs & website content like they do the content of books-as fixed words on a page that aren’t simple to revise without creating yet another book.
This is a savage mentality & one which you must banish at once.
There has always been an emphasis on creating evergreen content, but evergreen doesn’t mean you can refresh it when it’s turning grey.
As industries change with time, facts become outdated and no longer hold much truth, best practices fall out of place, and advice that was once a savior becomes murderous.
When those things happen, your content becomes obsolete and Google sees it as stale. And stale content speedily falls to the wayside of the SERPs.
If you have recently noticed that content that used to do well suddenly gets no traffic, or there has been any significant advancement in your industry, then it’s time to perform a content audit.
However, even if there haven’t been any of those, consider performing a content audit yearly. I recommend that you:
#1. Audit your site for low-quality content or content that’s under 300 words: Improve, or remove such content if you are able.
#2. Review statistics occasionally to see if they have changed: It’s good practice to use statistics within the last two to three years unless you are in a slow-paced industry.
#3. Double-check keywords & search intent: The way we use words changes, & what people mean when they search a specific query also changes.
Google knows this & checks to see that your topic is consistent with other results for specific target keywords.
#4. Be transparent: Include when the content was originally published & the date when it was updated. Don’t just update content & say nothing.
#4. Improve Your Business Transparency with Content
Customers set their hearts on transparency. Some 86% of customers report that they want to see transparency from the brands they support. If they don’t find it with you, they will shop elsewhere.
Transparency is vital because it proves that a company has more than its bottom line in mind. By being transparent with information, associations, & even mistakes, you will help build consumer trust.
Through content, you can improve transparency by:
#1. Structure your content so important information is prominent & not buried in paragraphs halfway down the page.
#2. Use clear titles & headings so people know exactly what they are reading.
#3. Writing in plain English rather than using puzzling industry jargon, which may seem misleading to your reader.
#4. Setting up your categories & tags correctly so that readers can easily search for topics.
Google is mysterious & tight-lipped about how it works & what changes after each update, not to mention what it all means for SEOs & marketers.
So, many in the industry resort to detective work to figure it out and save their website rankings from sinking.
If you have ever wondered how to unravel Google’s ranking algorithm, you are not alone on this path, and this article is written to help you pin down how to entice the algorithm with your content to make it rank your site.
Staying in Google’s good books isn’t difficult, it only requires adherence to simple rules. There’s no need to dig for signs in algorithm updates or overanalyze every single post on their blog, just follow the tricky paths suggested in this article and you will be on your way up the first page of the Search engine using E-A-T.