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E-A-T has been a consistent buzz word and hot topic in the SEO industry since 2018, but why do so many websites struggle with this concept? We’re here to help clear up the confusion and provide actionable strategies for how you can enhance your E-A-T and start ranking higher for your target keywords.
In the world of search engine optimization, E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. E-A-T is specifically listed in Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) as a page quality ranking. The QRG assesses the quality of search results and whether web pages pass inspection to be displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs).
E-A-T has impacted SEO noticeably following the Google Medic algorithm update that was released in 2018 that largely affected medical and health-related websites. It has since expanded to YMYL industries (“Your Money Your Life”), which encompass just about any business that can have an impact on a person’s well being. Upon the release of the update, websites that didn’t demonstrate their E-A-T in an effective manner dropped in organic positioning. Whereas, websites that were able to demonstrate it were seen as the more trustworthy result to display in front of searchers. Let’s break down E-A-T even more below:
Expertise is defined as having a high level of skill and knowledge in a field or on a subject matter. Google looks for expertise demonstrated on the page level, not a sitewide level. So if you’re looking to produce a piece of content that you yourself are not an expert in, work with someone that is because this will resonate strongly with Google’s E-A-T guidelines. You can demonstrate this through a well-written author bio. If you can’t find an expert to write the piece for you, find an expert that can review it and give their professional stamp of approval that the content is accurate and trustworthy.
Authoritativeness represents your reputation within the industry or subject matter. Are you the go-to source or highly regarded by others on the subject? Do people often reference (i.e. backlink) what you have to say on the subject? Expertise is the starting point to building authoritativeness. You must demonstrate your expertise in order to develop a reputation as an authority on the topic and to be referenced and trusted by others.
You can start to build authoritativeness by contributing to your industry or profession by conducting studies and tests, sharing your findings with other professionals, writing for well established sites and publications, speaking at conferences and webinars, and much more. Your E-A-T will hold more weight when Google spiders can associate your name with other authoritative sites that mention your name, or that link back to your website.
The third element to E-A-T is all about whether Google and searchers perceive your website as a trustworthy source. A big indicator of this is online reviews. Online reviews have a direct impact on your rankings and can either boost or hurt your positioning on Google.
Note: We cover this in great detail with a local listings and review expert in our latest Search Sessions webinar. Watch or read our recap on how reviews can directly affect your Local SEO.
While a few negative reviews won’t cause your rankings to tank, a lot of bad reviews can hurt your rankings and make your website less visible on SERPs. The goal should be to generate authentic, positive reviews from customers and clients. There is no magic number to how many you should strive to get, it should be a continuous effort to get as many genuine and positive (ideally four and five star reviews) as possible. Remember that you cannot entice or coerce people into leaving reviews, it must be organic and simply a request.
Review generation can take a while, so in the meantime, check out the other ways you can improve your trustworthiness now:
• Cite and reference credible websites in your content that are also trustworthy. While a high domain authority (DA) is usually indicative of a trusted website, it’s not the only thing you should be looking for. Smaller or local websites that are extremely relevant and reputable to the local community are also trustworthy even if they don’t have as high of a DA as Forbes.
• Clearly list out your contact info – phone number, email, or physical address customers can reach you at.
• Have a clear and easily navigable page dedicated to refunds, returns, or shipping details if you’re a business this would apply to.
• Ensure that your website domain is secured (HTTPS). This applies to all websites now, not just e-commerce businesses.
• Be descriptive on your website without being redundant, especially if you’re selling a product or service. People should have a strong understanding and confidence in what they’re purchasing from your website.
• Feature high quality (and optimized for site speed) images that clearly and accurately depict your product.
In the latest series of Google algorithm updates, Google has been making a major shift to demoting misinformation and rewarding websites that provide an excellent user experience and can prove their E-A-T. And because Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines says so!
E-A-T is mentioned 186 times in the QRG and that’s a sign of its importance in SEO. When a website passes Google’s E-A-T guidelines, it means that your website went through a thorough vetting process to ensure that it’s providing the best quality information possible.
Prior to E-A-T, ranking guidelines prioritized keyword placement and other technical elements over the quality of information that was being delivered to searchers. And it’s also why misinformation is so widespread on the internet.
Google heavily weighs E-A-T in its algorithm updates ever since the Medic Update, and it doesn’t look like that will stop anytime soon. Businesses and websites are going to be upheld to a higher standard if they want to rank organically in SERPs, and should therefore, move developing their E-A-T to the top of the priority list.
Content is the recommended way to boost your E-A-T according to Google’s guidelines, so start by repurposing what you already have on your website! With the release of new information, updates, and studies, content can quickly become outdated. Keep an inventory of your existing articles and other forms of content so you can easily update the information in there to reflect current findings and statistics.
Start by running an audit of your website to find areas of improvement like overly thin content, duplicate content, and content that was once generating high traffic and ranked well but no longer does. We did this for our own website using Screaming Frog, Google Analytics, and SEMrush. While the content was still relevant and provided good information, various amounts of new information came out that did not reflect in our articles since the initial publish date. And we also relaunched our new website in January 2021 which caused our traffic to drop as expected (this is inevitable with any migration). Following the website relaunch and much like everyone else, our website was also impacted by the series of algorithm updates Google released this year.
Our goal was to repurpose our existing content and work to restore the traffic it once had prior to the redesign migration and impact from the algorithm updates. The above graph shows the improvements in organic performance we have seen with the articles (combined) since repurposing at the start of 2021.
• Organic users improved by 16%
• Organic new users improved by 14%
• Organic sessions improved by 17%
One of our recently repurposed pieces was a cornerstone article that generated a healthy amount of organic traffic when it was originally published in early 2020 – “SEO Reseller Services: What Is It and Why Should I Become One?” We noticed that keyword rankings and traffic started to drop following one of the updates that hit in April of this year. We wanted to regain organic positioning first, so we made some significant changes to the keyword strategy.
Keyword intent changed over the course of when we originally published to now, so we updated the keyword strategy and methodically placed the terms throughout the content, focusing on the headers. We also updated the content to better explain the subject and we focused on answering the questions outlined in Google’s E-A-T and core update guidelines. And we also updated internal links to point to pages that are more relevant to the subject matter.
We started seeing improvements soon after the changes were implemented. SEMrush shows an 11% improvement in ranking keywords from May to July 2021, and the keywords are much better aligned with searcher intent.
Our repurposing strategy consisted of:
• Featuring up-to-date information and data
• Addressed the questions listed in Google’s E-A-T and core update guidelines
• Linking to trustworthy sources
• Improved user experience by using headers, high quality images, and enhancing page speed
• Moved the most important information to the top of the page and started using anchor links for easy access to answers
• Focused on implementing keywords with high search intent that aligned with our target market
In addition to repurposing your existing content, creating new content should be a high priority in your SEO strategy. Create content that proves E-A-T and demonstrates your ability to hit on topical breadth and depth.
Topical breadth means you can create content for various topics pertaining to your industry and field. For example, digital marketing is the overarching industry but there are specific fields like SEO, paid advertising, social media, and content marketing within it. Writing multiple topics in a quality and accurate manner versus just one shows your ability to expand your knowledge and reach.
Topical depth pertains to how long the content is. It’s a common SEO myth that content length is a ranking factor. And while Google does not give ranking preferences to long form content over shorter content, it does not like overly thin content. Long form content does give you more space and opportunity to adequately speak to a topic and answer all of the questions a searcher may have.
Base the decision of writing an in-depth piece or a shorter article on the keyword intent. Are the ranking pages all in-depth guides and really long articles? Are they more concise and straight-to-the-point resource articles? Let the search results guide your decision and test out your theories. If Google rewards long form content for specific queries, that’s generally a sign that shorter pieces won’t rank. However, test out everything when it comes to SEO!
Another great way to prove your E-A-T on Google is to publish original content. This includes content that speaks to original research, tests, and findings that searchers can only find on your website. You should support this content with data and still follow the recommendations we’ve already listed (assign the right author if it’s an article and highlight why you’re credible enough to be speaking on the matter).
This is an easy way to make an immediate change on your website for the better – create robust and strong author bios for your articles. Be descriptive and explicit about the achievements, education and work experience, certifications, and knowledge that the author has about the subject matter and industry. You’ve dedicated a great deal of time into expanding your skill set and knowledge in your profession, now’s the time to brag about it and make it well-known to searchers and Google.
Like we mentioned earlier, you may not always be the subject matter expert on a topic even though it’s relevant to your industry. And that’s okay! If this is the case, work with an expert on the subject matter to create a guest post and feature their author bio instead. Or find an expert to review and state their approval of the content you have written if the guest post route isn’t a feasible option. Still link back to the reviewers bio that talks about their expertise on the topic just as you would with an author bio. And remember, Expertise is judged on a page level, not sitewide.
In addition to author bios, About Us pages are a great way to speak to the brand, key team members, credentials, and achievements. It’s another way to prove your E-A-T at the sitewide level. While the About Us page isn’t typically one that will rank for a variety of unbranded keywords, it should still be crawled and indexed. The content will be seen by both Google and searchers and should instill confidence in your brand that you are the right choice for them to make a purchase or obtain information from.
Link building isn’t dead. KEEP BUILDING HIGH QUALITY BACKLINKS! Focus on the quality over quantity. While guest posts are a favored strategy, look for low hanging fruit opportunities like unlinked mentions! In our experience, most of the publications that have mentioned our brand have been willing to add a backlink to our website. Remember to look for positive mentions and websites that are highly relevant (a high DA isn’t always indicative or a highly trusted or credible website).
As we mentioned in the Trustworthiness section above, online reviews are so important in proving whether your website is seen as trustworthy or not. Incorporate review generation into your off-site SEO strategy or work with a highly regarded organization that can if you don’t have the time yourself. Take a look at the 11 ways we have increased our online reviews on Google My Business!
Another way to instill confidence and trust in your business is to showcase the success stories of previous customers and clients. Not only is it effective in demonstrating E-A-T, it can be a helpful selling tool. Case studies work similarly to online reviews. People are more likely to purchase a product or work with a business that can solve a problem if others have had a positive experience with them. In your case study, explain what the issue was and who the client is (if possible), how you helped, and what the results were. Use hard data and visual graphs – it captures attention better.
As Google continues its fight against misinformation, E-A-T will continue to be a crucial factor for the success of SEO campaigns. Make it a priority to improve your website’s E-A-T today! Some of the strategies are long-term and require time, like online review generation, but there are some things you can start changing today.
Need help? Boostability is the leading provider of affordable SEO services for small businesses across the nation! We’ve helped countless small business owners enhance their websites to show up in SERPs for the right keywords and the right kind of customer, and we can definitely help you, too.
We’re also the global provider of white label SEO services! Our partners span globally and we provide them with the same high quality SEO services delivered under their brand name and catered to their clients. You take the credit, we run the behind-the-scenes strategy and help you close on your sales. Learn more about our white label SEO Partner Program here!