E-E-A-T is an acronym which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It’s a simple set of guidelines that Google uses to determine whether they can trust a piece of content, the website it’s surfaced on and the person who wrote it. E-E-A-T has become increasingly important when writing content over the past few years. In this article we’re going to do a deep dive on E-E-A-T and how you should be using it in your SEO.
Before we start, it’s worth mentioning that although E-E-A-T factors specifically refer to Google, following them as ‘best practice’ will also help your ranking potential with most other search engines. Why? Because E-E-A-T is about making sure the content you are creating for your website can be trusted. If your content is authoritative and is written by someone who can be considered an authority, then you should stand a good chance of your content ranking on any search engine.
What is E-E-A-T?
E-E-A-T forms part Google’s search algorithm and it takes these four factors into consideration any time their crawlers visit your site and ‘reads’ the content it finds there. Google uses these factors to understand whether or not the content you are producing for your website is trustworthy or not and whether it gives users access to the information they are looking for.
In March 2014 Google added E-A-T factors to their search guidelines. Initially this just included Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, however, in December 2022 Google also added an additional ‘E’ for Experience to make it E-E-A-T.
So what do each of the individual E-E-A-T factors mean and why are they relevant? Let’s take a more in depth look at what each one is and why it helps shape the way Google rates your website.
One of the key indications of whether the information on a website is reliable or not,is whether the author displays any kind of personal experience in the subject matter. For example if a particular website deals with automotive repairs, and the articles are being written by a trained mechanic who writes about their personal experiences in mending a particular type of car, it demonstrates to Google that the content is more likely to be of good quality and worthy of ranking.
Similar to experience, the expertise factor handles whether or not the author of an article demonstrates expertise in a particular subject. Using the example of our auto repair company, if Google can see that the mechanic writing the article is fully trained, qualified,and accredited to fix a particular model of car, the articles being written by them are more likely to be of good quality and relevant to particular search terms.
This factor handles how the reputation of the website in question is perceived within a particular industry. Google does this by looking for several different signs but the main one is links from other sites. Again, using the example of our auto repair company, if articles from that website are linked to from other reputable websites in the automotive industry, it demonstrates to Google that the content on that site is held in high regard by peers in the industry.
This works both ways – for example, if the mechanic was to start publishing articles on making cupcakes, it’s less likely the site is going to rank above another site where the author perhaps owns a bakery and has spent twenty years making cakes, and crucially where other sites have linked out to this baker and have spoken highly of their content.
This is probably one of, if not the most important of the E-E-A-T factors. To score highly on the trustworthiness score, it’s not just your content that is held under the microscope and scrutinised by Google, it actually factors in several other areas of your website. Yes, your content is looked at and assessed for its accuracy, such as whether there are credible supporting sources to the information you are producing, but there are other things considered which can help Google determine whether your site is trustworthy.
For example, is the user’s experience of the site hampered by spammy ads, which prevents them seeing the content they want to view? Does the website have a valid security certificate? Google will even look to see whether your website’s checkout is secure, if you have one. All of these factors help build a wider picture of your site and whether it is a safe place for users to find the information they need.
Why is E-E-A-T important for SEO?
Google is on a mission to help users source reliable and useful information as quickly as possible. They outline this in their article, Our approach to search.
“Our mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. That’s why Search makes it easy to discover a broad range of information from a wide variety of sources.”
For Google to understand what out of the vast array of information available on the internet is useful or not, it assesses a website as a whole using the E-E-A-T factors as well as looking at individual pieces of content and whether or not they best meet the requirements of particular search queries.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, E-E-A-T factors will not directly affect whether or not your rank for a particular query. If your content is most relevant to the query a user is asking, it’s likely you will still rank. Where these factors can make a big difference is when there are multiple websites answering the same question. At this point Google will then consider which of these has a higher E-E-A-T score and is more likely to rank that content over competitors. It’s therefore really important that you consider E-E-A-T when identifying your target terms for content production and should form a part of any robust SEO strategy.
How can you improve E-E-A-T factors on your website?
Now we know what E-E-A-T factors are and why they’re important to helping your SEO strategy succeed, you might want to consider how you can improve them on your own website to help your content rank better. Luckily, we’ve helped many clients boost their SEO performance by building a robust E-E-A-T strategy, so we’ve put together a list of hints and tips of things you could be doing on your website to help improve your E-E-A-T.
It sounds pretty basic, but one of the quickest ways to begin building your authority is to start writing content that’s relevant to your business. After all, if you don’t have any content, it can’t rank in the first place. One of the easiest ways to do this is through a company blog or news section. It’s important to remember this content needs to be relevant to a service your business offers. It’s fine to have some posts about softer ‘brand related’ content, but the posts you produce should target core terms you hope to rank for. If you’re a business that sells cars, writing articles on what you and your colleagues did at the weekend is unlikely to help you in the SERPs.
You should also aim to make your content as unique as possible. If there are already 20 other articles on a particular topic, it’s going to be considerably harder for your content to rank. Try and choose something that answers a particular question that there isn’t already an answer for, that way you stand more chance of your content getting picked up. There is a caveat with this, however – if you have a SERP that’s filled with UGC (user generated content) from the likes of Quora or Reddit, or maybe it’s populated with poor quality articles where you can add a level of expertise that isn’t yet demonstrated, you have a much better chance of ranking even if there are a number of articles already out there answering the same question.
Google loves content that’s written for people, by people. When producing content for your blog you need to make sure that you’re attributing it to a real person. One of the first mistakes people make when producing content for their blog is to post it under an ‘admin’ account. It’s great that you’re writing content, but if you post it under an anonymous name, you’re not sending Google any authority signals.
Anyone that produces content for your site should have an author profile that can be attributed to any articles they write. This should feature some information about who they are, why they’re a specialist in a particular subject (if applicable), and any appropriate credentials they have. This helps Google understand why this content is trustworthy and relevant and is more likely to rank.
Keep it fresh
Once you’ve started to produce your own content, it’s important to keep it up to date. Over time you will start to build up a large base of content, but you need to make sure that you revisit old content every now and then to make sure it’s still relevant. If you don’t do this, your content could become outdated. This outdated content can actually cause harm, particularly if it contains information that is now incorrect. Google classes content like this as being stale, which means it is less likely to serve this content to users.
One of the easiest ways to stop your content becoming stale is to keep a record of all the published content and give it a ‘review’ date. You could use something as simple as a spreadsheet or if you’d prefer you could use a project management tool. Whatever you decide, make sure you review your content at least once a year. Don’t shy away from killing off content which is no longer relevant or performing badly, but if you can, try and update your content to freshen it up a bit. By updating your content you send Google ‘freshness’ signals, which helps it realise that this content is still relevant. Adding a field to your content such as “last updated date” or “next due for review” is also a great way to signal to Google that your content is regularly reviewed and therefore, should be current.
Don’t hide your blog
A common mistake companies make when building out a content hub such as a blog, is to hide it away. This often happens because a blog is seen as less valuable than something that drives sales or reinforces a commercial message. But, by burying your blog in the footer of your website you’re sending a very clear message to Google. This content isn’t important to the business. And if you don’t think that content is important, why should Google even consider ranking it?
Ideally, your blog should be given pride of place on your website. If possible, include a widget on your homepage that shows two or three relevant or recent blog posts and rotate them regularly. By doing this you’re making that content easy for Google (and users) to find. That’s not to say your blog should replace commercial messages, but should help to enhance them. If you have a particular campaign running try supporting it with a series of relevant blog posts.
Treat AI with caution
There has been a lot of news recently about the power of AI generated content using tools like ChatGPT or Google Bard. It can seem tempting to just jump straight in and start using these tools to generate the content for your blog. Afterall, it’s so much easier to prompt ChatGPT to write your articles than sitting down for a couple of hours and writing them yourself.
The content produced by AI tools can be fairly generic and may even contain out of date or inaccurate information. This can also be true for a human writer, but the one thing an AI tool can’t impart is expertise – which a human can, and this is what Google looks for. It’s also not clear at present whether Google values AI content over human content or vice versa, and in our opinion it’s best to stick with what’s worked in Google for many years rather than jumping on something that’s not quite proven itself in the SERPs yet.
AI can be a powerful tool to help you research statistics or facts, but when it comes to creating content for your site, we think there’s nothing better than something written by a real person.
Making E-E-A-T work for you
Following the advice we’ve given in this article can be a great starting point to leverage the power of E-E-A-T, but it’s important to remember that they form only a tiny part of any SEO strategy. Just because you do these things doesn’t mean you’ll automatically start to rank.
Need more help with your SEO?
At Let’s Drive Digital we specialise in helping businesses develop content-led product and SEO strategies that are tailored to their specific business objectives. We believe that 99% of businesses can dramatically increase their organic traffic using nothing more than a robust content strategy and technical excellence.
If you think your business could use a boost to its SEO, why not get in contact and see how we can help. Let’s do something great together.