If it seems like there’s always something new with SEO, it’s because there is. The latest trend to get everybody’s attention is the increasing importance of E-A-T, and how it affects search results. In this article we discuss What is E-A-T and Why is it One of the Most Important Things for SEO Right Now?
If you haven’t heard of it, E-A-T happens to be one of the most important things in search engine optimisation right now, and it exploded into the public consciousness in 2018.
It has remained a critical staple of SEO since then, though Google leadership still won’t admit that they changed their algorithm to accommodate it. But what is E-A-T exactly? And why is it one of the most important things about SEO right now?
Table of Contents
What Is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. The acronym comes from Google’s own search quality raters guidelines, which first came out in 2013.
While these principles seem to remain at the very core of Google’s philosophy, Google says these things are not individual ranking factors. But we’ve long learned that Google doesn’t like to give out their secret recipe, and everything they say has to be taken with a great grain of salt.
There is also plenty of evidence that seems to suggest that it plays a major role in determining which pages to present, especially in regard to certain queries.
When E-A-T Matters
E-A-T matters, but it doesn’t matter as much for all categories. This is because authoritativeness and trustworthiness simply aren’t as crucial on all queries.
For instance, if you’re searching on a subjective topic like what to get for your boyfriend on his birthday, E-A-T won’t matter as much. However, there are some niches where not having E-A-T could actually have severe consequences.
Google seems to want to crack down on those in these niches who can’t establish their expertise, or give shoddy advice on important subjects.
For example, articles on medical topics by doctors will outrank those by mommy bloggers in the search results related to a medical question, and that’s the way it should be.
Sites considered untrustworthy are awarded a low trust score, and can expect to see their rankings drop. This is because they lack authority and are considered by definition to be either inaccurate or misleading.
On the other hand, everyday expertise may be enough for some topics. For example, a cancer survivor’s blog about what it was like to live with the disease may outrank a doctor’s opinion.
This is why forums and support pages for those with a given disorder can rank well for related search queries.
What Topics Are Subject to E-A-T?
Google uses E-A-T to determine what pages to show in response to what they call Your Money or Your Life topics. Your Money or Your Life or YMYL topics are anything that could affect someone’s health, happiness, financial stability or safety.
This list includes medical queries, legal questions and financial queries. For example, questions about how to improve your credit score or treat a skin rash will only show pages that meet E-A-T standards.
This makes E-A-T an essential aspect of search engine optimisation, or SEO, for websites related to YMYL. If you’re in one of those niches and don’t know exactly how to go about improving your E-A-T, we suggest you work with a team like PWD.
They are some of the leading experts in SEO. They create SEO strategies unique to each company that will increase its credibility and trust factor while reflecting the company’s brand. If you want to learn more about tier services and what they have to offer, visit pwd.com.
You should also know that E-A-T can still affect you even if you don’t have a Your Money or Your Life site. You could still be affected if you have some content that relates to it.
The solution here would be to remove content that falls into this category so that E-A-T standards don’t apply to you.
How Is E-A-T Evaluated?
Whether you’re writing about personal health or credit scores, your website must meet the E-A-T standard in order to rank well. However, E-A-T are independent measures, each with their own criteria.
Expertise means you have a high level of knowledge or skill in a given field. For example, a doctor is considered an expert on medical topics, so their article on how to treat or diagnose an issue will be given extra weight.
The search engine evaluates these criteria on the content-level, so a doctor won’t get extra points if they write an article better written by a chartered accountant.
Authoritativeness is a rating of the website’s reputation. This measure takes the backlinks from other authoritative/trusted sources into account. Furthermore, it includes reviews of the website, news articles that link to the site and information created by credible individuals about the site.
Note that the authority for a given subject may not be Wikipedia or the government’s public health announcements. For example, the homepage for a band is considered the authority on what their song lyrics mean.
Trustworthiness is a measure of the transparency, accuracy and legitimacy of the website. One requirement in this regard is stating who is publishing the content on the site. Who wrote the article? Who is responsible for maintaining the website?
Accuracy of the content will be based on how well raters think the content fits the general consensus on the subject. This means that you could gain points if you cite high authority sources for your opinion. Also, make sure to keep your content up to date so that you continue to be considered trustworthy.
Note that trustworthiness can affect e-commerce sites as well. For instance, an e-commerce site that only provides an email address to get help with a transaction will not be considered trustworthy, so we can see how that can stretch beyond the limit of what is considered traditional SEO.
Was Google’s Latest Core Update E-A-T Related?
Even if Google will never come out and says it, all the evidence seems to show that the May 2020 core update was heavily E-A-T related.
A group of experts including Search metrics’s SEO, Marcus Pentzek, and Suxeedo’s head of SEO, Niels Dahnke, came to that conclusion after analysing the results of various websites after the update.
What seems to be interesting in this case, however, is that unlike other updates, there weren’t any big winners from this one. Rather, we saw some rankings drop, while smaller sites with less authority seemed to get a push.
This could be an indication that Google is adjusting its algorithm to place less importance on authority (read backlinks), and is looking to balance it with other factors.
What this also indicates is that while E-A-T might not be able to give you that much of a push, not having any will certainly penalise you. We also expect this to be a recurring theme with subsequent updates.
Now that you know a bit more about E-A-T, it’s time to learn how you can improve it, and take the steps to continue doing so.
Also note that while it seems to play an even more crucial role for certain niches, having good E-A-T can never be a disadvantage, and can only benefit you now and in the long run.
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