Have you been seeing lackluster SEO results or low SERP analysis? Not sure what you’re doing wrong?
While there’s a multitude of factors at play, a significant rule set that you might have overlooked might just be the culprit: Google E-E-A-T.
E-E-A-T are four principles Google uses to evaluate your web pages, and are a small part of a much larger collection of guidelines.
As with everything SEO-related, knowing the rules is the first step to mastering the mysteries of the algorithm and climbing your way to the top.
Here’s what you’ll come away with by the end of this guide:
Without further ado, let’s get into these search quality guidelines and learn how to get the most out of every page you create.
What is Google E-E-A-T?
Google E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. They represent a quality framework according to which Google evaluates pages and their content.
- Experience: Represents the knowledge and know-how of the content creator. This could be firsthand information (e.g. in the form of a product review) or a unique perspective gained through experiences.
- Expertise: Not all content is made equally. This dimension evaluates the depth of knowledge and skill reflected in the content. Expertise is being a master in your niche, not a jack-of-all-trades.
- Authoritativeness: Credibility is key. Having a high authority level means your content is reliable, respected, well-known, and referenced by other websites, experts, and content creators in the industry.
- Trustworthiness: If you’ve been on the internet for more than 2 minutes, you know that there is a ton of bad intel out there. This aspect, considered to be the most important of E-E-A-T, is partly the result of the other 3 pillars and evaluates whether users can trust the information presented and the site providing it (or whether the website’s content is misleading or even harmful to users).
Now, for the eagle-eyed among you who’ve been following Google’s Quality Guidelines, you might remember it was Google E-A-T before.
So, what changed?
In a December 2022 update, Google expanded its focus, introducing “Experience” to the forefront of its search quality guidelines, thus transitioning from E-A-T to E-E-A-T.
This new addition further refines and deepens what it means to have a high E-E-A-T web page, and provides online consumers with even better results than before.
Experience is the new kid on the block, and it’s making big waves.
With this new facet, it’s no longer enough to just provide information, it’s about the knowledge you have on the topic and how you got it.
Experience evaluates how knowledgeable creators are.
For example, if you’re researching how to train your dog, you’d like to find an actual dog trainer who has been in this line of work for a while.
You wouldn’t want information from someone who has only owned cats! The “Experience” factor ranks content from dog trainers higher than cat owners in this instance.
Deep dives and informed insights – that’s what expertise is all about. Google loves content that showcases depth, not just breadth.
Expertise means demonstrating topical knowledge in your specific niche.
You could be a coffee blogger discussing the intricacies of Arabica beans, or a tech enthusiast reviewing the latest gadgets, but regardless of what you do, your content should ooze skill and in-depth understanding, not just surface-level knowledge.
So, what does it mean practically speaking?
Well, for example, if you are an expert in the tax preparation niche and you have been writing content about it for a while on your site, Google will respect this kind of content more and more over time.
Likewise, if you suddenly decide to start writing about something completely different on your site (e.g. about French cooking), the new topic and content around it won’t be as ‘good’ by E-E-A-T standards, because that’s not what you’ve established your niche as.
Being an authority in Google Search is more than just talking the talk. It’s about being a go-to source, a beacon in your field.
Authoritativeness assesses how recognized and revered your content is by other sites or experts.
Do other industry players cite you? Are you referenced in reputed publications? It’s all about making your mark and being a thought leader with the most accurate and up-to-date information.
In a world of misinformation and digital scams, trust is gold. Google assesses if your content is reliable and genuine.
It’s not just about what you say, but how you back it up and prove your veracity.
Are your claims supported by credible sources? Is your site secure? Trustworthiness makes sure that users can not only rely on your content but also feel safe while doing so.
Why is E-E-A-T important?
E-E-A-T has become a centerpiece in the conversation around Google search rankings.
Each aspect of E-E-A-T can significantly impact your SEO and, consequently, your rankings.
“They (Google quality guidelines) can also be useful to creators seeking to understand how to self-assess their own content to be successful in Google Search.” (Elizabeth Tucker, Google Search Central)
Since the Helpful Content Update in 2022, Google started to pay much more attention to the quality of content on websites – which directly impacts their overall ranking performance in Google Search.
Although there were many Google quality updates before, this particular one was focusing much more on people-first content (as opposed to just optimized content for search engines).
Because of that, the E-E-A-T guidelines play an important role when evaluating the “quality” of sites by Google.
Let’s now dissect how E-E-A-T can affect the websites – both positively and negatively.
- Users are more likely to engage with content that comes from a place of personal experience. This engagement can manifest as longer time spent on the page, more interaction with the content, and a higher likelihood of returning to the site.
- Firsthand experience often leads to content that is not only relevant but also practically useful to the audience. This can be particularly evident in content areas like how-to guides, personal stories, and product reviews.
- Content lacking evidence of the creator’s personal experience and original knowledge can suffer from a lack of credibility. This can lead to distrust among users, impacting the site’s reputation.
- Without first-hand experience, content creators are more prone to inaccuracies, and misinformation or they just provide unoriginal content, which can mislead users and damage the website’s authority and trustworthiness.
- Content crafted by experts in their field improves credibility and builds trust with the audience. In a landscape where distinguishing between AI-generated and human-created content is becoming more and more difficult, expert contributions stand out for their depth, usefulness, and authenticity.
- Displaying author credentials or ‘about us’ pages can significantly boost the trust and credibility of the content, enhancing user perception, which is especially important in these new days of AI-generated content.
- The absence of expertise can result in content devaluation, with a drop in backlinks from sources with high authority.
- Content that lacks depth from recognized authorities may see a decrease in user interaction.
- Search engines are less likely to favor non-expert written content, with a potential decrease in first-page ranking likelihood.
- Being cited by authoritative sources can boost your site’s visibility and credibility, potentially improving the overall backlink profile of the site and its organic search rankings.
- A site’s authority is reinforced by positive reviews and endorsements, which can bolster trust, as evidenced by 62% of consumers 18-34 saying they trust brands with good reviews and social proof.
- Recognition and validation from industry peers can lead to a significant uptick in new users.
- Negative publicity can also have a direct impact on web traffic. While it’s difficult to quantify the exact impact, it’s clear that negative publicity can lead to a decrease in visits.
- A lack of endorsements may lower user trust, which can affect both the reputation of the website and user engagement.
- Trustworthiness of the site plays the most important role in the E-E-A-T guidelines as well as in Google Search Rankings. If your website is truly helpful, Google will reward you with higher rankings (and higher organic traffic income).
- Having good security measures like HTTPS not only protects users but also contributes to SEO.
- Clear and accessible privacy policies can further improve users’ trust.
- Security incidents or breaches can devastate user trust, leading to a reduction in the perceived reliability of a site.
- Misleading or harmful information on your site will be instantly marked as spam by the search engine (and potentially even blocked from the Search).
- Unclear data handling policies may significantly affect user retention, dropping SEO scores and trustworthiness as a whole.
- The spread of misinformation can attract a high volume of negative user feedback, which can have a detrimental effect on search engine rankings.
Now that you’ve seen what all the fuss is about and have more insight into how Google’s quality rater guidelines affect your site, it’s important to understand how E-E-A-T affects ‘important’ websites.
You see, not all websites and topics are created equal in the eyes of Google – some websites provide information that can greatly affect the general public, either positively or negatively.
That is why E-E-A-T guidelines are much more important when it comes to certain niches, a.k.a. YMYL topics.
What are YMYL topics?
YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” – it refers to web pages or topics that could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, safety, or financial stability.
Given the potential implications of YMYL content on individuals’ lives, the standard for accuracy, relevance, and trustworthiness is particularly high.
YMYL concept includes sites such as:
- Medical sites: Websites providing health information or advice need to uphold the highest standards of accuracy and reliability.
- Financial websites: Sites offering financial advice, tax form downloads provided, or banking services must be trustworthy and authoritative.
- Legal websites: Pages offering legal advice or information must be accurate and come from qualified professionals.
- Safety websites: Websites offering advice on safety practices, disaster preparedness, or self-defense need to be reliable.
- Online stores: E-commerce websites, especially those dealing with health products, finance, or other YMYL products, need to provide accurate product information and trustworthy transaction methods.
Google emphasizes E-E-A-T factors stricter to websites like these in order to prevent pages with low-quality or deceptive content from ranking in Google Search:
“Kind of make sure that that the site that you’re providing represents like a really high standard. And that the content is of really high quality and that it’s put together by people who understand what they’re doing. That’s not something like a run-out-of-a-garage kind of site. And that’s something that I think, especially for the medical area, is super critical.” (John Mueller, Google Search Advocate)
With so much misinformation on the web, be it with malicious intent or not, Google’s guidelines and quality raters can help us feel like we’re in good hands.
Is E-E-A-T a Google ranking factor?
No, E-E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor.
It’s an essential part of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, which serve as a benchmark for the performance of Google’s ranking algorithms.
Google Quality Raters use these guidelines to evaluate the algorithm’s effectiveness and provide feedback.
While the principles of E-E-A-T are designed to mirror what Google’s algorithm should value in web content, they do not directly influence ranking by themselves.
In other words:
Although these guidelines might not have a direct impact on rankings, adhering to the principles of E-E-A-T is aligned with creating content that meets user needs, which can positively influence search performance.
How to improve the E-E-A-T of your website
Knowing what we’ve learned so far, you might be wondering how to improve your own E-E-A-T scores.
There are several components to improving your ratings, and some of them require continuous upkeep.
1. Create high-quality content
It’s not enough to just produce content; it needs to be of high quality and offer value to your readers.
Research thoroughly, avoid shallow or superficial explanations, and offer deep insights into the topics you cover.
- In addition to that, you should regularly review and update your content to ensure it remains relevant and accurate.
- You can use our Mangools KWFinder and SERPChecker to research your niche, find proper topics, and review top-ranking competitors in SERPs.
- Avoid shallow or superficial explanations and dive deep.
- Regularly review and update your content for accuracy.
- Consider working with recognized experts in your field – guest posts, interviews, or joint research can boost your site’s credibility and demonstrate high levels of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
2. Show expertise in your niche
Displaying expertise is vital for E-E-A-T. Make sure to mention any credentials, certifications, or qualifications that validate your knowledge in your field.
- If you have years of experience or have received training in your niche, mention it
- Provide “author” and “about us” pages to build trust with your visitors.
- Add “person” schema markups to further bolster your efforts.
- Provide background information and social media profiles to demonstrate that you are a real person with knowledge and expertise.
3. Link to credible sources
Whenever you make claims or provide information, link out to credible, authoritative sources to back up your statements.
This not only bolsters the reliability of your content but also shows users that you’ve done your research.
4. Get valuable backlinks and reviews
Acquiring backlinks from authoritative or trustworthy sources can improve your site’s E-E-A-T.
Encourage satisfied customers or users to leave positive reviews, which can boost your site’s reputation.
Besides E-E-A-T, backlinks are also one of the most important SEO ranking factors. Therefore, having a strong backlink profile can help you on multiple levels.
To boost your link-building activities, you can use our Mangools LinkMiner tool to quickly check and find backlink opportunities for your website:
Tip: You can also use Mangools SiteProfiler to evaluate the most important metrics about your competitors and get a good overview of their authority in Google Search:
E-E-A-T Examples – The Good & The Bad
Understanding E-E-A-T is one thing, but seeing how it manifests on actual websites is another.
Here’s a breakdown of how websites can achieve high or low E-E-A-T ratings, with examples and insights drawn from Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.
Low E-E-A-T Examples and Characteristics
Websites demonstrating low E-E-A-T often suffer from poor reputation and decreased trust.
Here are some typical characteristics:
- Factual inaccuracies: Content with outdated or wrong information leads to credibility loss. For instance, a health blog spreading disproven medical theories would be a case of low E-E-A-T.
- Misleading information: Deliberately deceptive content harms a site’s trustworthiness. An example would be a financial advice site with misleading investment tips, which goes against the need for honesty and transparency.
- Lack of expertise: Content in specialized areas like health care lacking expertise affects value. An unqualified individual offering medical advice is not only unreliable but dangerous, as Google’s guidelines state: “The reputation and E-A-T of the creators of the [main content] is extremely important when a webpage has the potential to impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.”
- Unclear authorship or credentials: Ambiguity about who created the content or their qualifications can undermine authenticity. For example, a science article without a clear author or scientist’s backing would fall short.
- Contradicting established facts: Especially in YMYL topics, going against consensus can severely damage E-E-A-T. An example is a webpage insisting on debunked historical theories (Flat-Earth ‘theory’, for instance).
- Over-commercialization: When a site prioritizes sales over valuable content, it diminishes user value. An e-commerce site with more promotional content than informative product descriptions illustrates this issue.
High E-E-A-T Examples and Characteristics
Conversely, high E-E-A-T pages are marked by their adherence to information quality and authenticity.
- Accurate and current information: Regular updates and correct facts are crucial. A news website that consistently updates its articles to reflect new developments demonstrates high E-E-A-T. You may also see other non-YMYL sites with disclaimers about their last update.
- Expert authorship: Content from qualified professionals in specialized areas adds credibility. For instance, a medical guide written by a licensed doctor reflects high E-E-A-T.
- Clear author profiles: Detailed author bios, especially for YMYL content, boost trustworthiness. A journalist’s detailed profile on a reputable news site, as per Google’s guidelines, is a good example.
- Authoritative sources and citations: Using credible sources to back claims shows a commitment to accuracy. An academic paper citing reputable studies from established institutions is a good example of this. Many websites have expert fact-checkers as well.
- Depth and comprehensiveness: Thorough and detailed content indicates a deep understanding of the subject. An in-depth tech review with detailed analysis and comparisons can exemplify this.
- Transparency of purpose: Clear communication of the site’s mission and any biases builds trust. A nonprofit organization’s website clearly stating its goals and funding sources is a nice example of transparency.
- Positive user engagement: High levels of engagement, like shares and backlinks, suggest value. A blog post widely shared and referenced in its industry indicates high E-E-A-T.
In summary, high E-E-A-T pages not only satisfy informational needs, but do so in a way that’s trustworthy, authoritative, and expert-driven, aligning with the core values highlighted in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.
Understanding and integrating E-E-A-T principles into your website and SEO strategy is a necessity for anyone wishing to make a presence online.
Google’s emphasis on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness underscores the search engine’s commitment to providing users with reliable and relevant information.
While emerging technologies, such as AI-generated content, offer exciting possibilities, they also come with their own set of challenges in maintaining high E-E-A-T standards.
As website owners, content creators, or SEO professionals, the focus should always be on offering genuine value to the audience, showcasing expertise, and building trust.
In the world of digital content, authenticity, and credibility are keys to long-term success.