Semalt: The Complete Guide To E-A-T For SEO


In 2014 an unpublished set of Google's Search Quality Guidelines was leaked. It included a mysterious acronym that kept popping up throughout: E-A-T. On closer inspection, those letters were shown to stand for expertise, authority and trust.

From this first and somewhat accidental mention, the importance of E-A-T has only grown. Google now considers it to be amongst the top three considerations for 'Page Quality' - a vital metric in deciding how to rank search results, and thus an important consideration in your SEO efforts.

In this article we'll take a closer look at E-A-T - what it means, how it affects your Google ranking, and how to ensure that it works for you, not against you.

The basics of E-A-T

So we know that E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trust. But what does that mean?

In short, E-A-T is Google's way of telling websites that they need to offer high-quality information in order to rank well. This becomes quite obvious when you explore each element of the acronym:

Expertise

Google prefers websites with content that demonstrates expertise - not just in terms of raw knowledge, but also how effectively that knowledge is communicated. Google measures this parameter by looking at the quality of the content, and how effectively it engages the audience. It's about both knowing your stuff as well as knowing what your audience wants.

This element of E-A-T is weighted more heavily for things like medical journals and legal websites, and less so for gossip and humour sites. Demonstrating expertise doesn't mean you need to write a Wikipedia-style article on your site, you simply need to offer up content that is useful, truthful and digestible.

Authority

Are the people behind the website an authority on their subject? You and/or your writers need to be able to prove that you are qualified to talk about whatever it is that you're talking about. To analyse this metric Google looks at who is using you as a source of information - if you are getting backlinks from authority figures in your field, you'll be seen as an authority figure too. And while links are best, simply getting mentions on news or industry websites will also help to increase your perceived authority.

A reliable measure of authority is the 'trust ratio' score - the closer to 1.0 you are, the more authoritative you're perceived to be.

Trust

In many ways trust is the most important factor of E-A-T - where expertise and authority are the icing, trust can be seen as the cake. This metric is measured by the public's perception of your business - too many bad and/or unaddressed reviews, whether they're on Google, Trustpilot, Facebook, Glassdoor, Yelp or Tripadvisor, can tank your E-A-T efforts.

There are no shortcuts to gain a good trust score - you need to run a solid business, listen attentively to customers, and use their feedback to improve. If you don't learn from and address any negative sentiment regarding your business, you're destined to fail.

At the end of the day, Google wants to be known for serving up the very best search results possible. It is, after all, the company's reason for being. E-A-T is a way for Google to ensure that whenever a user looks for information, what they are given is trustworthy, useful, and of the highest quality possible.

The relationship between E-A-T and YMYL

To gain a better understanding of the whats, whys and hows of E-A-T, we need to talk about its relationship with another acronym.

YMYL is Google speak for 'Your Money or Your Life' webpages. These are the pages for which Google feels quality is most important, as they can have a real impact on the current and future happiness, health and wealth of Google users. The subjects dealt with on YMYL pages include physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, financial security, navigating the legal system, and other important topics and themes. Google understandably wants YMYL pages to come from reputable websites, and feature content that has been created with a particularly high degree of expertise and authority.

The company's focus on YMYL pages was announced in 2013, and was the trigger for Google's subsequent focus on E-A-T. While the concept of E-A-T was originally developed for YMYL pages, it has since been applied to all Google search queries to varying degrees.

Sure, it's most important to get high quality medical and legal information, but Google understands that its users also want quality humour, gossip, and other information that may not fit into the YMYL page mould. This makes E-A-T important for every website that wants to rank at the top of Google SERPs.

E-A-T and content creators

In 2018 an update to the guidelines brought the creators of a website's content into sharper focus. Google wanted to see not only who the author of a page's main content was, but also what the credentials of that author were regarding the subject at hand. This was particularly the case for YMYL subjects.

The upshot was that websites not only needed to build up their own E-A-T, they needed to build up the E-A-T of their content creators too. Aside from using experts, thought-leaders and authority figures to fill the pages of your site, there are a few different ways in which this can be achieved:
  • Include author boxes on web pages: Insert a small author profile on each web page, declaring who wrote the content and giving their credentials.
  • Link to an author's professional credentials: Whether it's a piece they have written for another site, a membership to a governing body, or simply the author's LinkedIn profile, this gives Google the information it needs to verify the author's credentials.
  • Use structured data: You should make things as easy as possible for Google's bots, so be sure to use author schema markup - structured data that may not be visible to the user, but tells Google all it needs to know about the author.

How Semalt can ensure you are what you E-A-T

As you can see, E-A-T is not a short-term play. In fact, it is the exact opposite of short-term, as it was effectively brought in to stop websites gaming the Google search result system. It has been designed to reward those who offer up quality information, and who do it for the long run.

Because of this, any website who wants to consistently and perpetually reach the top of the search rankings - particularly those with YMYL pages - must understand that it won't happen overnight. This requires real effort and investment. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, nothing worth doing is easy.

For those who are ready for the E-A-T challenge, Semalt is here to help. With a decade of experience in getting organisations across all industries to the top of the search engine rankings, we are the experts in developing the expertise, authority and trust that you'll need to make it to the top of the pile.

Our FullSEO package is designed for website owners who understand the value of investing in search engine optimisation. This package grants you the guidance of a personal SEO manager, who will take you through the analysis, optimisation and ongoing enhancement of your SEO strategy.

A key part of the process is enhancing your E-A-T proposition.
  1. First we will look at your site to understand your current E-A-T position. 
  2. We will then form an optimisation to-do list, improving your link juice, HTML code, structured data, and all other E-A-T elements. 
  3. Finally, we will continually make enhancements to your E-A-T. 
Perhaps you need to find an expert in your field to author elements of your site. Perhaps you need to offer up better quality information, or make the current information more easily digestible. Whatever the case, you can trust that your personal SEO manager will begin to guide you up the search engine rankings.

It won't happen overnight. But if you're committed to improving your website by offering your audience greater expertise, authority and trust, you can be confident your Google ranking results will improve too.