As of October 2020, Google controls 88.14 percent of the search market. With such enormous control, it’s essential to understand Google’s ranking factors and content guidelines if you want to or do run an enterprise SEO company. Have you ever heard of Google E-A-T? The search giant says it’s not an official ranking factor. Rather, it’s how Google evaluates the preciseness of its algorithms.
Google EATs are a guideline used to rate websites. Google updates these guidelines several times a year. The businesses that understand these changes and update their websites accordingly will achieve stronger search results and, subsequently, stronger revenue. Keep reading if you want to learn about E-A-T, how it affects your digital marketing (especially your content marketing), and how you can rank higher on Google.
Google EATs stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It’s a set of guidelines that Google had released in its 2015. Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. That initial article featured 168 pages. These guidelines were updated on October 14, 2020, and the document grew to 175 pages.
To establish E-A-T of a website, Google hires actual humans to evaluate your website’s unique page content to see if you’re an expert in your field. These evaluators will assess your education, experience, skills, and specialized knowledge to determine if your business is qualified to address a specific topic. This expertise evaluation is completed on a page-by-page basis—not of the entire domain.
Providing expert-level content doesn’t always equate to top rankings for relevant keywords within your niche. But it certainly matters where Google says it focuses much of its attention on the E-A-T of content within the medical, legal, and financial industries. These industries are referred to as “Your Money or Your Life” pages (YMYL) because they impact people’s lives.
Authoritativeness is another important measure evaluated by external signals to your content, such as links from other authority websites or mentions across forums and social media channels. Does your content influence others in your industry? Do others turn to you for advice? You’ll rank better on Google if you’re an influencer. This status is measured by how often you’re mentioned on high-authority sites, how many links you have, how often people search for your content, and how often users share your content.
And the final component of E-A-T is trustworthiness, which is similar to expertise but evaluates your entire domain versus just one page of content. You won’t be able to hide bad online behavior. Google’s E-A-T team will search for reviews online and across social media. It’ll also check if it’s easy to contact you directly at a physical location and whether you provide terms and conditions on your site. Transparency is key.
How Do Google EATs Affect Your Content Marketing?
Content marketing is very broad. Most people think about newsletters or blogs, but there are other ways to get your message to potential customers. A few types of content marketing include:
- Social Media
- White Papers
- Case Studies
Not only do each of these tools address essential topics or questions for a specific audience, but they also help boost your SEO. This is because they’re indexed by Google and appear in related searches. Google only wants to promote high-quality content.
Over the past four years, you’ve probably heard countless news reports about fake news and phony social media accounts. Digital guidelines like E-A-T are designed to discredit this content by pushing it lower into the search results (or deindexing it entirely from search results). Fake information on the web can negatively affect elections, public safety, freedom of expression, and people’s lives. Business owners should focus on being authentic across their websites and social media channels. One survey found that 86% of people consider “authenticity” the most critical factor when selecting a brand.
While E-A-T isn’t a direct ranking factor, you will likely see a drop in web traffic and engagement if you’re not following the guidelines. This has become especially important over the last few years and will remain so into the future.
SEO specialists who follow Google know about the periodic core updates. Several times a year, Google will tweak its algorithm to address an ongoing issue. Typically, Google doesn’t release much information about what exactly is changed, but what happens in the following weeks can be reverse engineered to figure out what Google is focusing on.
For example, there was a large Google core update at the beginning of December 2020. SEO experts found some rankings dropped on music-related, medical, and health websites. A few financial websites improved their rankings after the update. Many of these websites likely weren’t in violation of Google standards; instead, the E-A-T changes shifted how current algorithms evaluated these websites. Individual websites now have to change how they produce content and revamp their current range.
So what does this mean for businesses managing a website? You have to stay on top of E-A-T and follow what happens when Google updates its algorithm, especially if you’re in a YMYL industry. Otherwise, you could wake up one morning and notice that you’ve lost some serious traffic and, consequently, your revenue.
In most cases, a drop in rankings after a core update can be fixed by altering a few things in your content. There’s no reason to panic. You need to be aware of what’s happening and adjust your strategy accordingly.
The fact is Google isn’t in the business of hurting your company. Instead, they want to ensure you’re publishing high-quality content that can help others.
What can you do to improve your EATs? Google provides some guidelines:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources instead of providing substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the headline or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Is the content free from easily verified factual errors?
- Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily constructed?
- Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
These are only a handful of the questions you can use to self-assess your website and content. Visit Google’s guidelines here to see them all.
Remember, real people evaluate a website’s E-A-T ratings. How they rate your website will not directly affect ranking. But, like any rating system, how you’re perceived can influence whether people want to do business with you. And remember, these human evaluators are looking at a website’s E-A-T to evaluate how precise Google’s algorithms are working for choosing only the best possible content available for search queries.
Now that you understand Google’s E-A-T and how it can affect your website’s content let’s discuss some advanced ways to improve your search engine rankings.
If you’re following these SEO tips, you should have no problem weathering future core updates.
- Publish consistent and frequent high-quality online content that people want to read or watch and adhere to the Google EATs guidelines.
- Regularly update your content, including updating old content with the latest information and new internal links pointing to more recent content across your website.
- Include optimized and original title tags and meta descriptions that target one or two keywords per page.
- Begin a link-building strategy by reaching out to high-authority sites to secure backlinks or guest posting on other relevant websites.
- Use alt-tags for your images, and include keywords within the alt text.
It would be best if you remembered that managing SEO is an ongoing process. It requires continuous monitoring and tweaking to get right. If you want to be successful in this arena, you need to have a dedicated staff member to oversee your SEO efforts. Or, better yet, an experienced agency that can help you stay competitive.
Without a doubt, E-A-T will play a more significant role in the future. This is because of the vast amount of fake and substandard information on the web. Ensure you’re performing white hat SEO, which is simple—follow Google’s search guidelines. Never do anything shady that Google may consider a violation. SEO experts believe E-A-T is a warning system to alert website owners that they need to improve content.
Did you know that Google has over 200 ranking factors? As we stated earlier, E-A-T isn’t an official ranking factor. But it certainly will influence future algorithm updates. The best thing you can do is focus on producing great content and keeping your website’s technical platform running smoothly with zero errors.
The world of Google search rankings is complex. Now that you understand Google EATs guidelines, it’ll be easier to start planning your future content. When drafting content, ask yourself some of the questions we posted above. You want content on your website to be relevant, informative, and well-polished. Try to answer customer questions or address some of the big topics involving your products or services.
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