Google is known for setting quality standards for how it ranks websites and information. They always take into account whether or not a website is created to actually help their users. Especially when it comes to topics that affect your money or your life, abbreviated as YMYL. To help maintain its standards, it takes three important things into account: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. This is also abbreviated as E-A-T.
Back in 2015, Google released its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in their entirety. This was in response to a leaked version being circulated on the web.
These guidelines introduced us to the three golden keys to how Google evaluates web pages and how they differentiate high-quality from low-quality content:
- Beneficial Purpose
- E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), or Page Quality
- YMYL (Your Money or Your Life)
Your Money or Your Life and Why It’s Important
Today we’ll be discussing what E-A-T means and the impact it has on your website’s SEO. Before we do, we have to dig in a little more into YMYL and how it impacts E-A-T.
YMYL is content that can directly impact a reader’s health, finances, safety, and, ultimately, their happiness. Google has actually shared a list of what counts as YMYL content: news, civics, government, law, finance, shopping, health and safety, groups of people (I.E., veterans or people with disabilities), and “other.” Other is defined a little more loosely but covers topics such as health and nutrition, finding a job, or choosing a college. All of these things can have a direct impact on YMYL.
Non YMYL content would be like looking up home design choices. This is a subjective topic, and people have different views on what good home design looks like.
These YMYL topics are evaluated for E-A-T. For websites and content to be able to rank higher for these critical topics, they must contain expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. That’s why it is such an essential part of a business’s SEO strategy, even more so if they deal in YMYL content or products.
Now, let’s move on to E-A-T…
E-A-T What It Is and Why It Matters
In May 2019, Google updated its guidelines. When they did, they slightly changed the importance of E-A-T. Now, it is one of several factors in determining page quality vs. being a synonym for page quality. In order to rank, you have to take it into consideration because Google undoubtedly is.
To help you understand it better, we’ll break down the acronym. Let’s start with the “E,” which stands for expertise.
Google is looking for content created by a subject matter expert. Expertise means having a high level of knowledge or skill in a specific field of study. It’s evaluated mainly at the content-level, not at the organizational or website level.
When it comes to YMYL topics, this is about the content creator’s formal qualifications, expertise, experience, and education. For example, a seasoned Physician is more qualified to write about when to get your physical done than someone who’s read a few articles about it on the web. Formal expertise is essential for any YMYL related content.
When it comes to non-YMYL topics, there is a more lax approach. Here it’s about demonstrating relevant “everyday expertise.” This means people with relevant life experience in specific topics can be considered experts. Here no formal education or training is required. A great example of this would be allowing someone who has a rare genetic disease to share their life experience for the search query “what does ____ disease feel like” versus a Dr. who has never experienced it themselves.
“Authoritativeness” is defined as having generally recognized authority. You are well known in your industry, and people look to you as a leader in that industry. Your background is also well known, and you have been accepted as a solid source for information regarding a particular topic. At its core, authoritativeness is about your reputation.
Google researched and evaluates authority based on reviews, news articles, professional recommendations, references, and other relevant and credible information referring to you/your website. Google particularly mentions Wikipedia as a trusted source for this background research saying, “Wikipedia articles can help you learn about a company and may include information specific to reputation, such as awards and other forms of recognition, or also controversies and issues.”
Being an expert or source that is considered trustworthy means people can trust you to provide legitimate, accurate, honest, and true information. One main way Google rates this is by the transparency of a page. Can they clearly see who the author of written content is? Is sufficient contact information provided (address, phone number, email, etc.)? Are you citing real statistics and data?
All of these factors combine in evaluating the trustworthiness element. Just remember, just because a website or content creator is trustworthy in one particular area doesn’t mean they are in everyone. We’re trustworthy experts in marketing but not in managing a restaurant.
Answering the Real Questions
To help you dig even deeper into your understanding of what E-A-T is and how it affects your SEO, we’re going to Google itself. Below are questions asked to Google experts and their real answers.
Is E‑A-T a ranking factor? “Not if you mean there’s some technical thing like with speed that we can measure directly. We do use a variety of signals as a proxy to tell if content seems to match E‑A-T as humans would assess it. In that regard, yeah, it’s a ranking factor.”- Danny Sullivan October 11, 2019
While E-A-T is taken into account when a website or content is being ranked, it can’t be measured like other factors. A computer can’t measure these factors because they can only be fully comprehended by a human mind. Thus, it is not a ranking factor in a traditional, measured way, but it is a piece of the ranking puzzle.
Do websites have an E-A-T score assigned to them? “EAT and YMYL are concepts introduced for Quality Raters to dumb down algorithm concepts. They are not ‘scores’ used by Google internally. There is no EAT algorithm.”-Grant Simmons October 10, 2019
Improving Your E-A-T
So, with all this said, how can you improve your E-A-T and ultimately your ranking? This is a tricky question.
For YMYL matters, you can’t fabricate E-A-T. You either have to gain the knowledge, education, or training required. There is no way around this.
For non-YMYL matters, there are some ways to improve!
- Building backlinks, especially on authoritative sites, is a great start.
- Keeping your content current and up-to-date is another way. Producing new content as well as making sure your previous content stays fresh and accurate are both important in this area.
- Acquire new reviews. Prove to Google that people find you a trustworthy expert!
- List your expertise and qualifications on your website so Google can see you have the knowledge users are looking for.
- Cite sources that show E-A-T and that are accurate and current.
- Make sure your contact information is listed on your website.
- Hire experts. If you aren’t formally educated or trained, hire someone who is and who can boost your E-A-T for you!
As with all SEO, improving this will take time and intentionality. Knowing how important it is in ranking should help you stay motivated in growing your E-A-T! We know that if you stick with it, it will pay off big in the long-run.
If you have any other questions about SEO or digital marketing, please feel free to contact us directly at https://fusiononemarketing.com/contact-us.