If you’re here, you understand Google’s search algorithm is a complex system with many variables. One of Google’s search quality guidelines is called E-E-A-T (which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). While E-E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, Google wants to serve results with strong E-E-A-T so it’s a critical component to understand.
You’ve certainly seen guides and blog posts based on a creator’s first-hand experience with a subject matter, an approach which helps prove that the suggestions and recommendations within the post are tried and true, a genuine read.
As Google says: “Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place, or communicating what a person experienced?”
The point here is to squash shilling or hollow reviews – priority is given to content that appears to be from people who have actually been there and done that. This spells trouble for many affiliate sites that create “top ten” lists for products and services that they haven’t spent any time with. This is also a great signal for folks like Reviews.io, a trusted reviews site.
This is also a subtle way Google is trying to nudge the algorithm away from AI-generated content. (It’s worth noting Google is not actively avoiding AI-generated content, it simply recognizes the difference in quality for the end-user and their search intent.)
Narrow the Scope to Demonstrate Experience
Understand that less is more. A simple blog post titled “I used Product X for 10 days and I’ll Never Go Back” will do a lot more for Google than “Top Twelve Ways to [Y].” Google can infer that you have a first-hand experience with the one solution (and that it’s unlikely you have deep experience with twelve solutions).
Expertise refers to the depth of knowledge or skill that a content creator possesses in their particular field. This could be demonstrated through formal qualifications, professional experiences, or even self-education and an evident passion for the subject matter. In the context of SEO, this means that Google tends to favor content produced by experts in their respective fields. The rationale is simple: experts are more likely to provide reliable and accurate information, which helps Google fulfill its mission. For instance, a health blog post written by a qualified doctor is likely to be given a higher Expertise score than one written by a layperson.
Additionally, demonstrating expertise can have a ripple effect on the overall E-A-T rating. When content creators exhibit expertise, they often naturally build Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, as users and peers recognize their knowledge and skill.
Understanding and embracing the concept of Expertise in content creation and SEO strategy can significantly enhance your site’s ranking potential. It ensures that your content is not only rich in quality and relevance but also fulfills the user’s quest for reliable information, aligning perfectly with Google’s primary goal.
How to Demonstrate Expertise
One (imperfect but notable) method is to make sure your credentials are on full display. Optimize your social media profiles and bio sections on the websites where you publish to include certifications, employment, and other items which demonstrate an obvious expertise.
But, of course, it is possible to be an expert in something without formal credentials. Expertise can be demonstrated by off-site signals like mentions and citations and (high-quality) social media following.
As Nathan Gotch writes in his blog Gotch SEO, there are 18 things you can do to build your authority as an expert:
- Audit your expert footprint
- Start with the company website
- Build a website for your personal brand
- Update all other owned assets
- Reverse engineer successful contributors
- Get interviewed
- Use the Oprah technique
- Do joint webinars
- Get testimonials
- Become a speaker
- Create relevant content
- Start a newsletter
- Create a YouTube channel
- Build an audience on social
- Write a book
- Create a course
- Stack on more official credentials
- Associate with high-status people
It’s a lot. And you don’t need to do all of it. But if you want Google to think “expert,” you’d be well-served by checking off at least a few of these items.
Authoritativeness extends beyond the expertise of an individual content creator. It takes into account the credibility and reputation of the website or platform hosting the content. Google measures authoritativeness by assessing how much trust and respect a site commands in its specific field or industry. If your content is recognized and valued by users and other experts in your field, Google interprets this as a sign of authority.
Backlinks are a significant part of how Google gauges authoritativeness. When reputable sites link to your content, Google views this as a vote of confidence in your authority on the subject. The quality of backlinks matters greatly – links from well-established, reputable sites carry more weight than those from less reputable sources.
Another vital aspect of authoritativeness is the site’s overall reputation. This includes user reviews, mentions on social media or other platforms, and the degree of positive user engagement. Evidence of high-quality customer service can also enhance your site’s reputation and thus its perceived authority.
In SEO, authoritativeness is intrinsically linked to high-quality content. If your content consistently provides value, it’s more likely to be shared, linked to, and positively reviewed – all of which enhance your authoritativeness. Furthermore, building a strong online presence through engaging with your audience, answering their questions, and sharing useful information can also boost your site’s authority.
Finally, consistent branding and professionalism contribute to authoritativeness. Having a clear identity and mission statement, displaying transparency about your business practices, and maintaining a professional website design can all instill confidence in your users and increase your authority in the eyes of Google.
How to Demonstrate Authoritativeness
The greatest thing you can do to demonstrate authoritativeness is creating linkable content. Find angles that are interesting, creative, and engaging, things that your competition hasn’t yet taken a look at.
Be helpful, be weird, be data-driven, but above all, be unique so there’s a reason to link to you and not some other page.
From an SEO perspective, establishing trustworthiness is crucial for two main reasons. First, it contributes to a higher ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). Google aims to provide users with not only the most relevant but also the most reliable information. Therefore, websites deemed trustworthy are more likely to be favored in search rankings.
Second, trustworthiness impacts user experience and engagement. A trustworthy website promotes user confidence, leading to longer session durations, lower bounce rates, and higher conversion rates—all of which indirectly boost SEO by signaling to Google that users find value in your site.
Trustworthiness can be enhanced through various means. From a technical perspective, ensuring your website is secure is paramount. This includes having a valid SSL certificate, thereby making your website HTTPS, which signals to users that their data is secure. It also involves protecting your site from hacking and keeping user data secure.
Lastly, the accuracy and honesty of your content are vital for trustworthiness. Content should be well-researched, factual, and up-to-date, with any claims or statements backed by reliable sources.
How to Demonstrate Trustworthiness
A few things you can do to establish trustworthiness from the jump:
- Attribution for blog posts. It’s surprising how many blog posts go un-authored – if Google can’t tell who wrote it and the end-user can’t tell who wrote it, doesn’t that smell a little funky?
- Share company history and offer a full “about us” page. This transparency leads to trust.
- User-generated content (UCG). While UCG can be a mixed bag for SEO, it is undoubtedly a good way to build trust. After all, if you have pictures and videos of people using your product, that means the product actually exists. That’s a bigger deal than it should be in the SEO discourse of 2023.
- Don’t do sketchy stuff like hiding links. Google doesn’t like that black hat BS.
But above all, trustworthiness is going to be proven over time and reflected in those off-page signals we’ve discussed. Make sure your review sites are tight, owned, and you address any negative reviews.
In sum: E-E-A-T is Google’s way of saying, “be real.”