E-E-A-T is shorthand for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – four elements that Google uses to evaluate the quality of a website’s content. While these four go hand-in-hand, they have notable nuances.
Experience refers to the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or real life experience of the topic explored in the content. A piece of content is automatically more trustworthy to any user if it comes from someone who has direct experience; for example, a product review from someone who has personally used the product is worth more from a consumer perspective than a review from someone who has not.
Expertise refers to the proficiency of an author to write about a certain topic (eg. a doctor writing medical content, a lawyer providing legal advice, etc). People need to know that the content they are consuming was produced by someone with the credentials to back up their claims.
Authoritativeness is when Google looks at the author/s, the website, and the content. Authors need to show their credentials or official affiliations. A website’s reputation, meanwhile, has to be intact (ie. what do other impartial sources say about it? Do reputable websites link to it?). The site also has to be populated with high-quality content relevant to the target audience.
There may be some overlap between these three areas, but they all ultimately tie in to the venn diagram of the central idea of trust.
Trust is the key factor of the E-E-A-T concept – untrustworthy pages will have low E-E-A-T no matter how experienced, expert, or authoritative they are. Trust considers the extent to which a page is honest, safe, reliable, and accurate. This can be through technical signals like an SSL certification and guaranteeing secure transactions or more abstract signals like the accuracy of product descriptions and what customers say about the business.
Trustworthiness can depend on multiple factors to do with the type and amount of trust needed for that particular page, for example:
- Online stores that need secure payment systems.
- Product reviews that require first-hand experience of the product, written by creators with the idea of helping inform customers in mind.
- Informational pages must be accurate to prevent potential harm to consumers.
Trust may also be impacted by the factor of conflict of interest. For example, if a product review exists on a website that is written by the product manufacturer, or from an influencer who has been paid to promote the product, these are deemed as less trustworthy due to the conflict of interest from the parties involved.
Mentioned several times in Google’s Search Quality Raters guidelines, E-E-A-T rose to prominence during the August 2018 release of the Medic Update which affected health, fitness, and medical websites.
E-A-T to E-E-A-T
During December 2022, Google released an update to the existing format of ‘E-A-T’, adding an extra ‘E’ to give the concept. The reason for this change, Google explained, was due to the need for ‘Experience’.
As well as users getting search results that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, Google wished to better assess the efficacy of the search ranking systems by also evaluating the results on experience, i.e. does the content appearing in the results demonstrate that it was produced by someone with a degree of first-hand, real life experience?
While E-E-A-T applies to all search queries, it impacts some more than others. To fight disinformation, Google places extra scrutiny on websites that can directly impact a user’s life. These are called Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites.
Common YMYL sites include news and current events, finance, shopping, health and safety, law, civics, government, and many others. If a website falls under this umbrella, adhering to E-E-A-T guidelines becomes all the more crucial to their success.
Is E-E-A-T a Ranking Factor?
E-E-A-T as a ranking factor became a contentious issue within the SEO community when it was first published. The short answer is that E-E-A-T is not a ranking factor. E-E-A-T was created for Google’s search quality raters as guidelines for the websites that they review. This is akin to feedback cards that restaurants gather from their customers, making it more of a human concept than a tangible signal that a search engine can understand.
Google doesn’t give an E-E-A-T score. However, it uses several signals that measure a website’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, which then inform that site’s other ranking factors. Although there is no measurable rating that exists, it’s still considered vital best practice to follow, especially for YMYL websites.
Over the course of the past few years, Google’s core updates have massively impacted YMYL sites and content. This has been most noticeable in situations where that website or content was lacking in E-E-A-T.
Google has made significant adjustments to prioritise content that demonstrates proper E-E-A-T within their search results. Because of this, many companies have pivoted to making it a core part of their SEO strategy.
E-E-A-T for Your Business
Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines, also known as the Quality Evaluator Guidelines, are available for anyone to access at any time, offering insight and expertise which can be used to understand the ways in which Google views a website as being of high or low quality.
The guidelines are packed with information about E-E-A-T. When it comes to page quality rating, some key takeaways that can be used to asses the E-E-A-T of a website include:
- The contents of the ‘About’ section of a website, i.e. what the content creators are saying about themselves. This relates to the factor of Trustworthiness.
- Reviews, references, articles, and other sources of credible information from other content creators, i.e. what the public is saying about a website. This also ties in to the Trustworthiness factor.
- The content that is visible on the page that can give an idea of the level of Experience and Expertise.
Other key strategies you can use to increase your E-E-A-T include:
Linking to high quality sources puts you in the same bracket as those sites, raising your credentials and reflecting an image that lets users know you can be trusted. Use real life studies to back up statements and information, or link back to social media posts from industry experts.
Get a Wikipedia Page
Having a Wikipedia page can instantly raise your website’s image, elevating you to a more trustworthy status that is universally agreed to be reliable.
Actually going through the process of getting one can be very difficult, however, if you truly feel your business has the expertise and authority to deserve a spot in Wikipedia’s database, it’s worth a shot.
Maintain Up to Date Content
Especially if you’re covering YMYL topics, making sure that your content is up to date is crucial for portraying effective E-E-A-T. Even for non-YMLY topics, this is an overall necessity for dishing out sound and reliable information to your users.
Again, especially if you’re covering YMLY topics, utilising experts in all industries is crucial for giving out proper, safe, and trustworthy advice within your content.
For non-YMYL topics, even using people with a history in your chosen industry can be effective in helping your E-E-A-T.
Getting reviews can benefit your website in multiple ways. Firstly, Google tells Quality Raters to use online reviews as a source of reputation information about businesses, which boosts both your trustworthiness and authority.
Secondly, users will be able to trust your site more off the back of positive, quality online reviews – even better if the reviews are from people in your chosen industry – creating more of an attraction to your website and, again, boosting your site’s level of trustworthiness.
Support and Contact Information
Websites that don’t display proper customer support and contact information are often perceived as untrustworthy, and inauthentic, especially for YMYL sites. This is because users will often need to inquire for help or ask questions, which can be discouraging if they find themselves stuck with a problem and unable to reach out.
About Us Page
If your website doesn’t already have an ‘About Us’ page that lets users know exactly who you are and what you’re about, now is the time to create one. Outline who your team are, and let users know why these people and this site is a legitimate source for the knowledge and content it contains. This is a quick, simple, and effective way to demonstrate E-E-A-T.
Ultimately, the primary goal of optimising for E-E-A-T is to prioritise the level of trust and quality reflected through the content on your website. This involves an element of transparency and authenticity, helping to connect with your users and, therefore, the search engine.