Many creators are familiar with the concept of E-A-T, which is used in how Google evaluates if the search ranking systems are providing helpful, relevant information. They are basically testing to see if ordinary people feel the results they get demonstrate E-A-T, that is: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
Now to better assess results, E-A-T is gaining an additional E: Experience. This extra concept evaluates whether or not content also demonstrates that it was produced with some degree of experience. This experience can include such things as having actually used a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced. There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.
Below, we will explore what you can do to make sure you are meeting these criteria.
What is Google E-E-A-T in SEO?
If you are a content creator (whether a business owner who writes for themselves, a copywriter, an author, or something else entirely), you may have heard of E-A-T.
It is possible, even probable, that you have not. If you are at all interested in ranking on Google, then you should at least have a vague understanding.
E-A-T is one of the ways that can influence the way that Google evaluates content to ensure that the search engine is providing relevant, helpful information to people searching.
Let’s look at each element individually to understand what Google is looking for.
To be an expert, you should have extensive real-world experience and/or formal training. You could be an expert if you’re a self-taught artist with a decade of experience and dozens of professional gallery shows. Or, expertise could mean going to law school, passing the bar exam, and practicing law for several years. However, it takes more than expertise to be seen as an authority.
Authoritativeness is a level above expertise. You can have real-world experience and formal training, but do others point to you as the go-to authority on a topic? To clear this bar, you need to build a reputation of excellence. Do you train, certify, or inform experts within your industry? Do other experts rely on you?
Trustworthiness is all about a content’s… or a page’s legitimacy and transparency. If a page can provide accurate information about the content creator or if a page can provide a proper basis for the topic being discussed, this is considered trustworthy. Trustworthy pages provide facts, sources, and up-to-date information about the content creator and the MCs.
Well, Google has recently announced that they are adding another ‘E’.
The added E is for Experience. Google wants to know if the content also demonstrates 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. There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.
How Does Google Determine E-E-A-T?
Now that we have answered the question What is E-E-A-T?, let’s see how Google actually determines the E-E-A-T of a page. At a high level, there are four primary components listed in the Google search quality evaluator guidelines:
- Personal experience with the topic
- Expertise of the creator of the Main Content
- Authoritativeness of the creator of the Main Content, the Main Content itself, and the website itself
- Trustworthiness of the creator of the Main Content, the Main Content itself, and the website itself
Self-Assess Your Content
Evaluating your own content against these questions can help you gauge if the content you are creating is helpful and reliable. Beyond asking yourself these questions, consider having others you trust but who are unaffiliated with your site provide an honest assessment.
Also consider an audit of the drops you may have experienced. What pages were most impacted and for what types of searches? Look closely at these to understand how they’re assessed against some of the questions outlined here.
Content and Quality Questions
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources, and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the main heading or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the main heading or page title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
- If someone researched the site producing the content, would they come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?
Presentation and Production Questions
- Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?
- Is the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
Focus On People-First Content
People-first content means content that’s created primarily for people, and not to manipulate search engine rankings. How can you evaluate if you’re creating people-first content? Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Avoid Creating Search Engine-First Content
We recommend that you focus on creating people-first content to be successful with Google Search, rather than search engine-first content made primarily to gain search engine rankings. Answering yes to some or all of the questions below is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content:
- Is the content primarily made to attract visits from search engines?
- Are you producing lots of content on many different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
- Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
- Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
- Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
- Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
Especially in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), trends and ranking factors change quickly, often on a monthly basis. While it is true that some best practices have remained constant over time (such as creating a coherent SEO strategy), the tactics involved often change quickly and without warning.
Google’s self-proclaimed mission is to provide the best, most helpful search results to their users – they do not want just anyone ranking at the top of the page. For this reason, they have always acknowledged the work of SEO without directly condoning the term “optimization” – preferring to use phrases like “website best practices” to refer to tactical behavior.
Focusing on E-E-A-T can help you create high-quality, reliable content that meets the needs and expectations of your visitors. This can lead to a better user experience, which can be a ranking factor for search engines and can also lead to increased engagement and conversions.
By demonstrating experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, you can increase the credibility and trust of your website and its content in the eyes of its visitors. This can lead to increased engagement, such as longer visits and more conversions, which can also impact your ranking in search results.