Google makes hundreds of changes to its algorithm every year. In most cases, they are minor tweaks that fix issues or streamline processes. However, there are a few significant broad core algorithm changes that affect entire industries and market segments worldwide, such as the EAT algorithm update of August 2018. The update reflected Google’s continuing focus on providing more credible search results.
With this algorithm, sites that demonstrate a high level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are viewed as credible resources. This means they also earn higher rankings. Websites that with high quality content not only build trust but also provide a solid foundation for a customer’s journey with the organization.
Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines
Google provides intelligence on improving quality ratings through the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. These detail the characteristics of high-quality content and include screenshots to give SEO professionals a better understanding of how to make websites and content stand out. According to the Google Guidelines, E.A.T. stands for
- Expertise – Ranks how knowledgeable the content or site owner is on a certain topic
- Authoritativeness – Ranks the credibility of the website where the content is posted
- Trustworthiness – Ranks the overall site quality, including its security
The EAT algorithm seems to have hit YMYL sites the hardest. If you don’t recognize YMYL, you’re not alone. It is the acronym for the Google term, “your money or your life.” These are pages can potential impact the future financial stability, happiness, safety or health of users.
Some YMYL sites lost more than 50 percent of their traffic overnight. If content wasn’t created or verified by certified professionals, Google considered it low quality, misleading or inaccurate. Google wanted to prevent searches which could adversely affect a searcher’s income, happiness or life. Sites like this were usually those in health and wellness, fitness, nutrition and medical categories, like pages those that offer the following:
- Investment or tax information
- Legal advice
- Information regarding specific medical conditions, mental health issues or diseases
- Pages that can be hazardous to the user if they contain low levels of EAT, such as car maintenance
On the surface, you may not consider your site part of the YMYL category. However, if you have any information on your site that has the potential to affect consumers, Google may categorize it there. Consider whether your site contains the following:
- Ability to accept credit cards
- Opinions about fashion
- DIY home improvement articles
- Nutritional, diet or fitness information
- Movie, restaurant or automobile reviews
- Parenting advice
Virtually any type of company could be YMYL to some degree. For organizations that are clearly YMYL, such as health care, medical and legal practices, EAT may be weighted more heavily than other businesses. Improve the way the EAT algorithm views your articles by having recognized authorities write them for you. Have an author box that allows you to post the writer’s information with a link to a professional profile.
Implementing EAT Guidelines
Although the rater guidelines don’t offer information about how the EAT algorithm ranks sites, they do represent what the engineers hope to accomplish in the search rankings. If you want to avoid being kicked down the rankings or if you are already affected, there are some steps you can take to boost your EAT.
Remove Low-Quality Content
Google’s intent is to deliver high-quality, relevant results for users. Examine your site and consider if any of the content can be considered spammy, questionable, or potentially harmful to others. If so, remove it or re-write it accordingly.
Address Your “About” Page
Implement and optimize your website’s “About” page and make sure it contains markers for EAT, such as these:
- Testimonials from clients
- Formal qualifications
- Academic titles
- Experience and expertise of you and your team members
- Press releases
Manage Your Online Reputation
Customer reviews, guest posts and press coverage are off-page quality signals that may have significant weight with Google. Build EAT by ensuring your reputation is as good as possible. Respond to customers reviews, good and bad. Guest posts on sites with high reputations reflect well on you and can improve your rankings. Positive press coverage can also give your SERP position a boost.
Improve Your Personal Branding
Taking charge of your personal brand can help strengthen your reputation. Completing your social media profiles and telling your story to interact with industry influencers and your audience can help with this. When you cultivate a positive reputation, you’ll be viewed as a trusted authority in your niche.
Showcase Your Team’s Expertise
Google recognizes two types of expertise, the formal expertise gained by getting degrees and certifications and everyday expertise gained through life experiences. Showcase the expertise of everyone involved on your site, from management and sales to the content creators. Anyone who creates editorial content should have an author profile that includes information proving know-how, like:
- Awards they have won
- Blogs or businesses they own
- Companies they associate with or worked for previously
Create High-Quality Content
In addition to being typo-free, it should also be written well, with authority. Invite guest bloggers with expertise and trustworthiness to provide fresh content. You can also remove older content that doesn’t meet today’s guidelines and dive into analytics to see which pages perform poorly in both traffic and conversions. You may decide to revamp the content on those pages or decide it’s no longer accurate or relevant to your business or audience.
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