December 7, 2022
December 7, 2022
When researching SEO you might have come across the term E-A-T and want to know a bit more about what this is. Many questions may come to mind such as ‘Is it a ranking factor?’ and ‘how important is it?’. These questions have plagued the minds of many SEO professionals for a few years now, causing them to fire question after question to Google’s employees on Twitter and in interviews. In recent interviews, we’ve been given more information about how important E-A-T actually is and how it affects Google’s metrics.
So, what is E-A-T in SEO and why is it important? E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness and was introduced in 2018 within the Search Quality Evaluator guidelines. Google values each of these factors and judges the E-A-T of the website, the content, and the creator of the content. E-A-T is especially important for Y-M-Y-L niches.
Read on to find out more information about what each factor in E-A-T is, along with why it’s important and whether Google actually considers it a ranking factor.
As we’ve stated, E-A-T means expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Each of these factors are judged on every website, including the content, and who created the content. Google wants to serve the best possible content to the search engine user, and therefore wants to ensure that it only shows users trustworthy websites with content created by experts who have authority in their field.
E-A-T is especially important for Y-M-Y-L niches. This originally meant “Your Money or Your Life” but now also means “Your news, health, religion, sexual orientation, happiness, safety, financial stability or Your Life”. Google considers Y-M-Y-L niches sensitive topics and therefore E-A-T should be a high-priority implementation on all these types of websites. Examples of Y-M-Y-L niches include industries such as healthcare, education, finance, law, and surveying to name just a few.
We’ve written an extensive blog on the topic of Y-M-Y-L which you can find here.
Let’s break down each factor to try to understand what the difference is between them.
An expert in their field should know what they’re talking about because they either have qualifications, experience, skill, a large amount of knowledge or all of the aforementioned for their particular topic or field. This can be shown within the content, citing authoritative external sources or previous experience where necessary. Google wants the content to be created and/or approved by an expert on the subject matter in question. With Y-M-Y-L niches, such as finance, Google will want the content to be written by someone with financial qualifications and formal expertise rather than someone who’s read a couple of blog posts on finance projections and bookkeeping.
Authoritativeness is built over time, but essentially it’s the reputation of a website or person within an industry. If many other websites link to your website when discussing a certain topic, this shows Google that your website has authority in this niche and will be more likely to show it higher up in the search results. Authority comes in the form of reviews (e.g. Google reviews), news articles, backlinks and recommendations. These should come from websites, articles, or individuals that don’t work for, or aren’t a part of the website or organisation in question. While a website may have authority in one particular area, for example in Quantity Surveying, it probably won’t have authority in Human Resources.
We all want to be able to trust the content we read and the websites we’re browsing. If we don’t trust them, not only could it be harmful to the devices we’re using to browse, but the content may also be incorrect, and the creator of the website may be trying to trick us into making bad decisions such as buying ‘magic beans’. Trustworthy websites are transparent, secure, and state who is responsible for the creation and approval of content on the website. This is why it is important to source any questionable statements in your content toward trustworthy and authoritative websites backed up by experts.
There are a number of reasons why E-A-T is important. Google considers E-A-T important enough to mention within their Search Quality Evaluator guidelines along with constant mentions from Google’s employees in their tweets and interviews. Google wants to show pages and websites of high quality to its users, rather than low quality, and potentially unsafe content.
Another reason why E-A-T is important is that a website user will consider the content on a website helpful if they believe it’s created by an expert, the content links to authoritative sources, and the content is transparent and legitimate. The legitimacy of the content will promote users to click around the website more overtime and stay on its pages for longer, therefore indicating to Google that this website or page is very helpful.
There are many differing opinions in articles and from SEO professionals around whether E-A-T is actually a ranking factor, so it’s hard to determine what the truth is.
The first thing we need to understand is that there are differences between ranking factors and guidelines. Technical SEO ranking factors are controlled by Google’s algorithm, whereas the guidelines are set up by Google for their Search Quality Evaluators. These Evaluators measure the quality of search results on an ongoing basis.
John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has said E-A-T is not a Google SEO ranking factor, and there are no E-A-T scores, but that E-A-T is more important for Y-M-Y-L websites. On the other hand, the VP of Google Search, Hyung-Jin Kim, said “E-A-T is a core part of our metrics” and “we do it to every single query and every single result”. From these quotes it may be hard to determine what the answer is, however the best thing we can do is apply E-A-T to all of our content on all of our pages on our website. This is especially true in Y-M-Y-L niches.
Learn more about the different ranking factors in our recent blog, What are Google Ranking Factors and How Do They Impact SEO?
When thinking about implementing E-A-T on a website we should start with the basics. What does a website need to be considered an Expert, an Authority, or Trustworthy? Here’s a list of things to consider:
There are many other ways to improve a website’s E-A-T but these are the easiest to identify and add.
Wildcat Digital is a digital marketing agency in Sheffield that provides SEO services to businesses and organisations that want to punch above their weight online. We conduct E-A-T site audits on every website within the setup of our SEO campaigns. Get in touch for more information regarding our SEO services or for a free, no-obligation consultation.