E-A-T means Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
E-A-T is part of Google’s algorithm and baked into Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
Even Google says that E-A-T is “very important.”
E-A-T should not be confused with “eat” and the foods we put into our mouths. Although I have to admit, I’m suddenly craving a burrito. 🌯
If you’re an SEO professional, you’ve probably heard a lot about E-A-T over the past few years.
But, what exactly is E-A-T? Is it a major update, a little tweak, or something in the middle? Do you need to change everything about your SEO strategy? Or can you safely ignore it like that half-eaten taco still in the fridge from last weekend?
In this guide, I’ll explain exactly what E-A-T is, dive into Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, why it matters, and how to help your site rank better by feeding it E-A-T style content.
The guide is in collaboration with other SEO marketers, including Dave Davies, Lily Ray, Kevin Rowe, and Roger Montti.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect in this series:
- Chapter 2: Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines: A Guide for SEO Beginners
- Chapter 3: How to Use Structured Data to Support E-A-T
- Chapter 4: E-A-T & Link Building: A Guide to Evaluating Prospects
- Chapter 5: Surprising Facts About E-A-T
- Chapter 6: Google’s E-A-T: Busting 10 of the Biggest Misconceptions
What Exactly Is E-A-T?
E-A-T is one of many guidelines Google uses to determine whether the content is valuable to readers and whether it should rank well.
The first mention of E-A-T occurred in 2014 when Google added the concept to their Search Quality Guidelines.
Google search quality evaluators were instructed to pay attention to:
- The expertise of the creator of the content.
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the content, the content itself, and the website.
- The trustworthiness of the creator of the content, the content itself, and the website.
In a nutshell, E-A-T is a characteristic that indicates a page is high-quality, making it helpful to users.
Here’s an example from Google that highlights what they mean by E-A-T:
“High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism – they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes.”
Is E-A-T a Ranking Factor?
No, E-A-T is not technically a ranking factor, but it can impact your content’s rank.
This is (almost) as confusing as Burger King’s Whopperito, I know.
E-A-T is a guideline Google uses to determine what content is high-quality and should be ranked higher and part of several different aspects of its algorithm. So while it’s not a direct ranking factor, it can have an impact on your overall search rankings indirectly.
While it does matter, it might not be important as some SEO professionals thought.
Gary Illyes from Google has indicated that all the talk about E-A-T is overblown and rarely mentioned internally.
No eat. Externally it's mentioned infinitely more than internally.
— Gary 鯨理／경리 Illyes (@methode) May 13, 2020
So Why Is E-A-T Important for SEO?
Have you ever heard of the phrase “content is king?” Or “just create high-quality content?”
Don’t answer that. Because, of course, you have. SEO pros have been blasting for more content on repeat.
While well-intentioned, those phrases make my eyes roll because they didn’t actually tell us anything about what makes high-quality content.
More images? Longer form content? Alt tags galore? Better metas? The world may never know.
Now, Google is giving us a little bit of insight into what they consider high-quality content, and that can have enormous implications for content marketing and SEO pros.
E-A-T guidelines tell real human reviewers, who evaluate hundreds of websites, exactly what type of content Google considers high-quality.
According to their guidelines, great content should:
- Help users.
- Be created by an expert.
- Be posted on an authoritative site.
- Be trustworthy.
- Be updated regularly.
If possible, the content should be created by a high level of expertise, though “everyday expertise” from people with real-life experience is acceptable when appropriate.
Pages that spread hate cause harm, misinform, or deceive users may receive a lower E-A-T rating from search evaluators.
Here’s Your E-A-T Checklist with 7 Ways to Improve Your Website’s E-A-T
Now you know that E-A-T is not related to your mom’s lasagna but to Google’s algorithm. You know why it matters – and why SEO professionals are all at atwitter about it.
But what does it mean for your site? It means you need to up your content game.
Here’s a seven-step checklist to help your site be more authoritative and trustworthy.
1. Tell Visitors Who You Are
All three prongs of the E-A-T guidelines indicate Google wants to know who creates content and whether that person(s)/website is a legitimate source for that knowledge.
If you don’t already have an About Us page or a Team page that outlines who your team is – and who your content creators are – now is the time.
Author pages are a simple way to establish your team’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
2. Work With Experts to Create Content
Google doesn’t just want good content; it wants content from people who know what they are talking about.
Rather than hiring ghostwriters to produce half-baked content on high-click key terms, work with experts in the field to create content Google will trust.
This might mean interviewing a scientist, hiring an expert to guest post, or working with another company to publish top-notch research.
3. Make the Purpose of Your Content Clear
What is the point of your content?
Do you want to inform, explain, convince, or describe?
Use titles and headings that make the purpose of your content extremely clear and use straightforward language.
For example, I used headings in these posts that are questions, so you know you will have all your questions about E-A-T answered.
Don’t produce long, meandering content. Get straight to the point and cover the topic as clearly (and as thoroughly) as possible.
4. Update Content Regularly
We create an incredible amount of data every day.
By 2025, we’ll create an average of 463 billion GB of data every single day. This means content gets outdated fast.
Tools get updated, sites get taken offline, people take on new roles, and Google updates the algorithm… again.
In my experience, the average lifespan of online content is around two years, depending on the topic and the industry.
Keep your content accurate and up to date by including content updates in your SEO strategy.
Update stats, best practices, and check for dead links every few years, particularly for high-ranking content.
5. Link to High-Quality Sources
If you want to be seen as an expert, then you need to rely on real data.
Link to official sources, studies, and research papers to back up your points and show you do know what you are talking about.
Use trusted sources like NCBI and JSTOR to find studies to back up statements.
You can also link to tweets, papers, or reports done by industry professionals. For example, in this article about E-A-T, I referred to comments from Gary IIlyes from Google, who could (probably) be considered an expert on Google.
6. Consider Multiple Viewpoints
To be trustworthy, content should look at problems from multiple angles and examine what each angle contributes to the overall conversation.
For example, if your content is about the best types of ice cream to eat, there’s a good chance one type of ice cream isn’t perfect for every person.
One person may like their ice cream made with locally farmed eggs like this “Not Fried Chicken Ice Cream Bucket.” And, another person may have a hard time choosing between ice cream and a cocktail, so they’ll opt for The Boozy Capsule collection from OddFellows Ice Cream. Or BBQ-flavored ice cream.
The possibilities are endless. But, the goal is to explain the different viewpoints on a topic to establish trust with your audience and make it look like you’re an expert.
7. Pay Attention to Your Online Reputation
Your online reputation can impact the trustworthiness of your site and your content.
Protect your brand reputation by keeping an eye out for negative press and responding to negative reviews promptly.
Claim all your social profiles for your brand name (so someone else doesn’t try to scoop them up!), and encourage customers to leave positive reviews about your brand.
You don’t need to go crazy trying to build a massive brand if it doesn’t make sense for your business, but make sure your good name doesn’t get smeared.
🍩 Doughnut Take E-A-T Lightly
Every time Google makes a change, there are a few SEO marketers who think it’s the sign of the Apocalypse like the great Twinkie shortage of 2012.
The good news is, Google has made it clear that E-A-T isn’t a massive change that will tank search rankings.
Instead, it’s an internal guideline that helps Google determine whether a piece of content is high quality.
But that doesn’t mean it’s useless. SEO pros can use the E-A-T guidelines to better inform their content creation process and produce great content Google is more likely to rank well.
Featured image credit: Paulo Bobita