The Google Search Quality Rater just got a major update within its guidelines. The popular acronym E-A-T just got another E, which stands for experience. First-hand experience will now play an important role in Google’s search rankings. This now makes four rating criteria that Google will be looking for when evaluating the credibility and relevance of websites. So what is Google looking for with experience, and how can you implement this change with your current SEO strategy? Let’s break E-E-A-T down.
Google has now unveiled the concept of E-E-A-T, which stands for:
Google is emphasizing that when reviewing content, it’s important that it was produced by someone with some degree of experience on the subject matter, such as the actual use of a product or by physically visiting the place referenced. They further stressed that there’s significance in some situations when the author has some first-hand knowledge or experience on the topic. Google’s updated search quality rater guidelines said this specifically about Experience:
“Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a ‘review’ by someone who has not?”
In addition to adding experience as a factor, a greater emphasis is being placed on trust. Trust is the most important component of E-E-A-T because, as Google says, “untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how Experience, Expert, or Authoritative they mean seem.”
How Google’s Quality Raters Evaluate E-E-A-T
How does ‘Experience’ differ from ‘Expertise’ – aren’t they the same? Actually, no. Simply put, there are different industries, subject matters, and topics where personal experience is very important when providing trustworthy content to the end user. Google states that “pages that share first-hand life experience on clear YMYL (Your Money Your Life) topics may be considered to have high E-E-A-T as long as the content is trustworthy, safe, and consistent with well-established expert consensus. In contrast, some types of YMYL information and advice must come from experts.”
They further explained that “pages on YMYL topics can be created for a wide variety of different purposes. If the purpose of a page on a clear YMYL topic is to give information or offer advice, a high level of expertise may be required for the page to be trustworthy. However, sometimes pages on YMYL topics are created to share personal experiences, often regarding difficult life challenges. People turn to each other in times of need to share their own experiences, seek comfort or inspiration, and learn from others. Factual information from experts and authoritative sources may not satisfy this need.”
In other words, would you want a review of a restaurant written by someone who has never eaten there? Or read an article about how to skydive from an author with no experience in the subject? Of course not. But you may value an article from someone who has overcome cancer when they share their personal experience from the chemotherapy treatment you are considering. That is an example of when first-hand knowledge is very much a factor in someone’s decision-making. This is why experience matters when referencing certain topics.
The Importance of YMYL and E-E-A-T
Google uses YMYL as a guiding principle for classifying pages that impact areas of your personal life. This includes your finances, safety, and/or happiness. YMYL sites are held to the highest possible E-E-A-T standards due to their subject matter, and the impacts misinformation can have. The most common types of YMYL sites are:
- News and Current Events
- Civics, Government, and law
- Health and Safety
- Groups of People
These subject matters can also extend into other categories based on their context. Such items could include parenting, fitness or weight loss, home remodeling, and researching schools or colleges.
Given this, it’s important that Google returns information to the end user that is accurate, truthful, safe, and useful. People make important decisions based on what they learn from search results. This is when personal experience can come into play. In Google’s eyes, a medical article written by a doctor with first-hand experience is much more valuable than a random blog written by an unverified medical professional.
The Importance of E-E-A-T and SEO
Google understands that a person may make a life-altering decision based on what they read online. Therefore, bad sources can have determinantal consequences. If your website content or industry falls into any of these categories, you must be certain you’re meeting E-E-A-T guidelines. The more you follow and apply E-E-A-T with your content, the greater your chances for high organic visibility and improved search rankings.
While E-E-A-T is not a direct Google ranking factor, there are other signals Google uses to determine the trustworthiness of your website. Google utilizes several measurable factors that indicate the quality of authors, web pages, websites, and brands. When evaluating these metrics, Google’s algorithm can clearly measure those signals that correlate with E-E-A-T (e.g., backlinks).
It also ties in with another factor Google has constantly been improving: user experience. Google penalizes any website that doesn’t demonstrate real value to the end user. They want to serve up pages that have the most accuracy in relation to a search query. In other words, if you want a successful SEO strategy, then E-E-A-T should be utilized when developing your overall SEO plan.
How to Improve SEO
Google’s search algorithms aim to promote high-quality content and weed out low-quality or spammy sites. The E-E-A-T criteria are crucial in order to provide accurate and trustworthy information. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can improve E-E-A-T with your SEO. These specific steps will send trust signals that they are looking for in your website. Some examples include:
- Build up your backlinks
- Get more mentions from trusted sources
- Keep your page content accurate and up to date
- Get more reviews (and respond to them)
- Flash your credentials and accreditations
- Provide your contact details
- Perform a content audit (and delete or update it)
If you know what your audience wants and you’re able to deliver it with experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, you’ll remain in great standing with Google. When approached correctly, you’ll be setting your SEO in a prime position for success.
Looking to improve your SEO strategy? Since 2011, we’ve helped our clients gain the visibility they need online, along with more calls and more business. Get in touch with us to learn more about our comprehensive digital marketing solutions.