Google has updated its E-A-T concept to E-E-A-T, adding an extra ‘E’ for experience. The addition prioritizes personal knowledge and real-life experience in evaluating website quality.
More specifically, pages created by individuals with a degree of experience in a particular topic are considered more trustworthy and authoritative than those without such experience.
This new factor takes precedence over expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness and is now a vital part of the Google Quality Rater Guidelines.
For context, the E-A-T, introduced in 2014, is a set of guidelines used by Google to evaluate the quality and credibility of a website’s content.
While the E-E-AT, or Double E-A-T as some would call it, doesn’t directly influence rankings, it can be a valuable metric for evaluating content quality for success in Google searches.
In this blog, we will explore the significance of EEAT for search engine optimization (SEO) and provide tips on adjusting your SEO content optimization strategies.
What Is E-E-A-T?
Before we dive into the different components of the Google EEAT framework, here is a little history lesson:
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It is a set of guidelines used by Search Quality Raters, Google’s official quality assurance team, to evaluate website content.
The original E-A-T framework was first introduced in Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines in 2014, but it gained more attention in the SEO community after the ‘Medic’ update in August 2018.
The Medic update is a Google algorithm that was released to enhance the quality and relevance of search results, specifically for health-related searches. This update placed a greater emphasis on E-A-T factors, page quality and user experience.
As a consequence, some websites may have experienced a decline in their search rankings if they failed to meet the new criteria.
Search Quality Raters
The Search Quality Raters are a group of individuals hired by Google to evaluate the quality of search results. They follow a set of guidelines provided by Google, including the EEAT guidelines, to assess the relevance, accuracy and usefulness of the content presented in the search results.
The feedback from these raters helps Google improve its algorithms and provide better user search results.
It’s important to note that quality raters have no direct impact on site rankings. Instead, their evaluations are used to provide feedback and insights that inform Google’s ranking algorithms.
Google Quality Rater Guidelines
The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines is a 176-page document that human quality raters use to evaluate website and search engine results page (SERP) quality.
As mentioned earlier, Search Quality Raters don’t directly affect rankings, but Google uses its judgments to improve its search algorithm.
SEO experts refer to the Google EEAT guidelines to understand the signals that Google is trying to measure.
EEAT guidelines cover various aspects of a website evaluation, such as:
• Determining the author of content or website domain ownership.
• Researching the E-E-A-T of content creators.
• Rating the quality of pages and content.
• Identifying high-quality and low-quality content.
• Identifying high E-E-A-T requirements for specific types of domains/pages, such as YMYL (Your Money Your Life) sites.
• Comparing mobile and desktop experiences.
• Identifying potential user harm from page designs or usability issues.
• Scoring domains and pages on a rating slider from “Fully Meets User Needs” to “Fails to Meet User Needs”.
You may wonder why Google places so much value on websites exhibiting experience, expertise, authority and trust. The reason is simple: safety.
By prioritizing websites that display EEAT, Google can ensure that users are directed to trustworthy sources of information. This helps protect users from scams, misinformation and other potentially harmful content.
In the next section, we’ll break down each letter and offer tips on effectively demonstrating Google EEAT in your content so it aligns with Google’s helpful content update.
Understanding the Components of E-E-A-T
One thing’s for certain about Google’s helpful content update; it gives more weight to high-quality web pages that meet experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness standards.
So, let’s examine how Google uses this E-E-A-T to measure content quality and explore ways to communicate it effectively in your content.
Google prioritizes firsthand or real-life experience when it comes to evaluating content quality. Reviews and opinions from individuals with experience with a product or service are given more weight than those without.
Here’s a great example from Google Search Central Blog:
“For example, if you’re looking for information on how to correctly fill out your tax returns, that’s probably a situation where you want to see content produced by an expert in the field of accounting. But if you’re looking for reviews of a tax preparation software, you might be looking for a different kind of information—maybe it’s a forum discussion from people who have experience with different services.”
Adding “experience” in Google Quality Rater Guidelines is also a breath of fresh air in an era dominated by generative artificial intelligence (AI).
While AI can make assumptions about the human experience, it cannot replicate the nuances and complexities of authentic experiences.
Demonstrating Experience in Your Content
You can convey experience by showcasing the people behind your company. Highlight their credentials and qualifications through a well-crafted About Us or Meet the Team page.
This page can also include personal anecdotes and stories that humanize your brand and create a connection with your audience.
According to Stanford’s web credibility guidelines, highlighting experience in your organization and in the content and services you provide increases consumer trust. This could lead to an increase in user engagement and conversions.
According to the Google helpful content update guidelines, content is considered more valuable when created by subject matter experts. And while expertise goes hand in hand with experience, they are not the same.
Experience vs. Expertise
Expertise is the level of skill or knowledge that someone has in a particular subject matter. It can be demonstrated through academic qualifications, professional certifications or work experience in a relevant field.
Meanwhile, experience refers to the hands-on involvement that a person has had in a particular activity or job. It can be gained through trial and error, observation and learning from others.
Demonstrating Expertise in Your Content
Google looks for evidence of expertise in the content itself, not at the website level. These self-assessment questions from Google will help gauge whether your content displays expertise:
• Is the information presented in a way that instills trust, such as having clear sources, demonstrating expertise or providing background information about the author or site?
• Would someone researching the author’s site conclude that it is a credible and authoritative source on the given topic?
• Was the content created by someone with notable expertise or passion for the subject matter?
• Are there any factual errors in the content that can be quickly verified?
From a technical standpoint, here are elements you can add to your content:
• Include the author’s name.
• Provide a descriptive bio that includes relevant qualifications.
• Include links to the author’s social media profiles.
• Utilize a Persona schema that has relevant properties for certifications or professions.
Establishing expertise helps build trust with your audience leading to positive engagement. It also signals the algorithm that your site is authoritative and deserves a higher ranking.
An authoritative website is widely recognized, particularly among other industry experts or influencers. People see you as an industry leader and trust you as a good source of information.
Demonstrating authority, based on the helpful content update guidelines, can be achieved in three ways:
• Creating a comprehensive content structure
• Acquiring backlinks from other authoritative sites
• Building a personal brand or digital profile around a specific topic
Note that authority is relative to specific expertise. For example, a website like WebMD may be considered authoritative in the medical industry due to its reputation and knowledge.
However, if they were to publish content about technology, their authority would not carry over to that subject matter.
Demonstrating Authority in Your Content
To build authority, ensure your content strategy covers everything your target audience needs to know. Deliver answers that convey E-E-A-T in every article.
Here’s a list of strategies to consider:
• Focus on creating high-quality content that provides value to your audience and showcases your expertise in the subject matter.
• Incorporate relevant keywords and phrases into your content, but avoid overstuffing and prioritize natural language.
• Include quotes and insights from recognized thought leaders and experts in your industry to lend credibility to your content.
• Leverage social media to promote your content, engage with your audience and consider reaching out to influencers in your industry for potential collaborations or partnerships.
• Seek opportunities to contribute guest posts or opinion pieces to authoritative websites in your industry.
• Encourage customers and clients to leave testimonials on your website and other relevant platforms, such as Google Business profile (previously Google My Business) or Yelp.
• Utilize tools such as Google Analytics and SEO content optimization tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to monitor site performance.
• Hire an SEO content writer with direct experience in the subject matter.
Remember, building authority takes time and consistent effort. Continuously seek ways to improve and provide value to your audience.
Don’t shy away from hiring quality content writing services or SEO content writing services to improve your strategy.
Google considers trustworthiness as the most significant signal in E-E-A-T. It measures your site’s security and your content’s legitimacy, accuracy and transparency.
Your content could score A+ in experience, expertise and authority but will have a low E-E-A-T without trust.
Demonstrating Trust in Your Content
To demonstrate trust in your content, focus on building a secure website and providing transparent, accurate and expert-backed information. Here’s how:
• Ensure your web domain is secure by migrating from HTTP to HTTPS.
• Include details such as your business name and contact information.
• Create a Google Business Profile (GBP).
• Include privacy policies, refund/return policies and terms and conditions pages.
• Ensure your online stores feature secure payment methods.
Content Legitimacy, Accuracy and Transparency:
• State who created the content and include the author’s contact information.
• Support information with expert consensus.
• Ensure data is accurate and up-to-date.
• Provide sources and references to support claims.
How Google’s Quality Raters Assess E-E-A-T
Google raters judge a page’s primary content, including page title, text, images, videos and page features. This includes user-generated content such as comments, articles or videos added by users.
Here are the different levels of E-E-A-T in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines:
Pages with the lowest E-E-A-T rating often appear spammy and fail to meet optimal page experience guidelines. Specifically, obstructed or obscured main content can contribute to a negative page experience.
Chapter 4.5.2 of the Google quality rater guidelines states:
“If the E-E-A-T of a page is low enough, people cannot or should not use the MC of the page. If a page on YMYL topics is highly inexpert, it should be considered Untrustworthy and rated Lowest. Use the Lowest rating if the website and content creator have an extremely negative reputation, to the extent that many people would consider the webpage or website untrustworthy.”
In general, pages with the following characteristics should be viewed as untrustworthy and potentially harmful:
• Lack of adequate information about the website or content creator’s purpose.
• Low E-E-A-T rating or poor reputation.
• Obstructed or obscured main content.
• Deceptive purpose, page design or intent.
• Risk of scams, malicious downloads or other harmful behavior.
• Webpages designed to manipulate people for the benefit of the website or organization while causing harm to users or specific groups.
Pages lacking E-E-A-T often fail to meet their intended purpose or provide helpful information on a given topic. Here are some examples of how this can manifest, as explained by Google:
• Content creators needing more experience, such as a skincare treatment review by someone who has yet to try the product.
• Content creators lacking expertise, such as a financial advice blog written by someone with no finance background.
• Unauthoritative or untrustworthy sources, such as political news shared on a satirical website.
• Pages or websites deemed untrustworthy for their intended purpose, such as a donation page that doesn’t provide any information about where the funds will go.
The rater content guidelines emphasize the importance of topical relevance, stating that a website may have a positive reputation but still lack E-E-A-T on a specific subject.
For instance, a medical website providing legal advice would not make sense, even if the website is trustworthy in other aspects.
High Level of E-E-A-T
Websites that effectively demonstrate experience, expertise, authority and trust will have high levels of E-E-A-T.
Here’s a more detailed explanation from Google:
“Pages with High E-E-A-T are trustworthy or very trustworthy. Experience is valuable for almost any topic. Social media posts and forum discussions are often High quality when they involve people sharing their experience. From writing symphonies to reviewing home appliances, first-hand experience can make a social media post or discussion page High quality.”
High E-E-A-T websites include news or government sites, relevant videos, small business websites and blog posts.
Highest Level of E-E-A-T
Websites that exhibit the highest levels of E-E-A-T will appear trustworthy to users and provide high-quality and relevant content that meets search intent.
A website or content creator with unique authority on a topic, significant experience or expertise is said to have very high E-E-A-T. They are considered the most trustworthy sources on the internet for a particular topic.
According to Google’s documentation, the standards for the highest quality content vary depending on the purpose, topic and type of website.
For News Topics:
• Original reporting that provides new information not previously known.
• Accurate, in-depth and investigative reporting requiring high skill and effort.
• Includes description of primary sources and other original reporting.
• Must be accurate and meet professional journalistic standards.
For artistic content (images, videos, photography, writing, etc.):
• Original content created by highly skilled artists or content creators.
• Displays a high level of talent, skill and effort.
• Follows YMYL standards if the content is a YMYL topic.
For informational content:
• Original, accurate, comprehensive and clearly communicated.
• Should reflect expert consensus as appropriate.
• Expectations may vary by topic or field.
• All very high-quality informative content shares common characteristics of accuracy and clarity.
Additionally, Google states that the expectations for high quality content vary depending on the information presented. So while a scientific paper would have different standards than a social media post about a hobby, all high-quality content should be accurate and clearly communicated while meeting appropriate measures for the topic.
Pages with very satisfying and original content demonstrating a high level of effort, talent or skill can be justified with the highest rating.
Why You Should Care About E-E-A-T
Google uses automated systems to provide users with the most relevant, reliable and useful information. To achieve this, they have a rigorous process involving testing and quality raters — hence the introduction of the E-E-A-T content guidelines.
Beyond that, here are some insights into why you should prioritize E-E-A-T when implementing SEO content writing services:
Google Helpful Content Update
In August 2022, Google launched the “helpful content update” to enhance the quality of search results. The update rewards original and helpful content, while low quality content won’t perform as well.
The Google helpful content update incentivizes website owners and creators to produce valuable content that meets user expectations.
The E-E-A-T framework reinforces this goal by emphasizing the importance of experience, expertise, authority and trust in creating quality content.
Essentially, the helpful content update in tandem with the E-E-A-T framework will support Google’s mission of delivering content that satisfies user needs and interests.
Implications on YMYL Content
Google defines Your Money Your Life Content (YMYL) as topics that could significantly impact a reader’s finances, health, safety or well-being.
E-A-T is crucial for YMYL SEO, as misinformation on such topics can have severe consequences. It can harm the individual who views the content and others who may be affected by the actions of the person who viewed the content.
Some examples of YMYL content include:
• Financial information: Content related to banking, investing, taxes and insurance.
• Medical information: Content related to healthcare, treatment options, medications and disease information.
• Legal information: Content related to laws, regulations and legal issues.
• News and current events: Content related to important events, political news and social issues.
• Safety information: Product safety, food safety, public health and emergency preparedness content.
The Big Question: Does E-E-A-T Impact SEO?
The million-dollar question – does E-E-A-T in any way improve your Google ranking? The answer is no; it is not a Google ranking factor and doesn’t directly affect your SEO.
A ranking factor, by definition, is an objective and tangible signal that Google’s algorithm uses to determine the relevance, authority and usefulness of a web page or site.
Some factors that improve your Google ranking include the number and quality of backlinks, the use of relevant keywords, the loading speed and mobile-friendliness of the site and the user engagement and click-through rates of the content.
On the other hand, experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are subjective human concepts that are not easily quantifiable or measurable. This is why Google relies on Quality Raters to provide feedback on whether their algorithm updates accurately measure the objective signals aligned with E-E-A-T.
However, this doesn’t mean you should neglect E-E-A-T in your SEO efforts. The framework could serve as a baseline for providing high-quality, informative and trustworthy content, which is one of the main goals of SEO content writing services.
If your website fails to demonstrate experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness, Google may prioritize your competitors’ content, causing prospects to choose their offerings over yours.
By aiming for high E-E-A-T levels, you can improve your company’s online reputation, attract more visitors and drive conversions and revenue.
In other words, E-E-A-T can help you build a sustainable and long-lasting SEO strategy that benefits both your audience and your business.
The Link Between E-E-A-T and SEO Ranking Factors
Google can correlate E-A-T signals with external factors like backlinks and third-party mentions. Here’s how:
1. Backlinks and Mentions
Thoughtful placement of backlinks from high-authority domains relevant to your niche is crucial in achieving an effective SEO strategy. Backlinks are a testament to the trustworthiness and expertise of your website, and Google uses them to determine your topical authority.
2. High-Value Backlinks
Backlinks signal to search engines that other sites trust and value your content. But not all backlinks are equal.
Google uses complex algorithms to distinguish high-quality from low-quality links. It assesses the proximity of links to ‘seed sites.’ which are pages crawlers start upon. If diverse enough, seed sites can help ensure more complete and varied search results.
In the context of SEO, links closer to these seed pages are considered more valuable and impact a website’s ranking.
3. Other Factors
Other signals associated with E-E-A-T content guidelines include:
• Positive reviews: Feedback from satisfied customers and positive ratings on review platforms are indicators of trust and credibility.
• Reputation: A website’s reputation is evaluated based on factors such as the author’s expertise, the website’s history and its track record of delivering accurate and reliable information.
• Forum mentions: Mentions and discussions about a website or brand in reputable forums can demonstrate the website’s authority and expertise in a particular topic.
Six SEO Tips for Proving Your Website’s E-E-A-T to Google
Google’s recent updates to its Search Quality Rater Content Guidelines and core algorithm emphasize the significance of experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness in determining search engine rankings.
Check out these tips to enhance your E-E-A-T ratings and boost your chances of outperforming your competition in search rankings.
1. Audit Your Content
Aim to provide people-first content that focuses on providing helpful answers and leaves readers feeling satisfied. As we mentioned before, Google recently released a helpful content update to ensure content is original, beneficial to users and written by people, for people.
Perform routine content audits to ensure that it remains valuable and meets the standards of E-E-A-T. Outdated information can undermine the usefulness of previously effective content.
You can check your content against Google’s criteria for evaluating content quality, which you can find here.
2. Include Author Information
Google values content written by credible sources of information. Establish legitimacy by creating an About Us page to introduce your team or individual author pages highlighting specific writers.
Author bios are particularly important as they help establish transparency and E-E-A-T by showcasing the author’s credentials and past work.
You can also display the author’s expertise by writing guest posts for relevant, authoritative sites in your niche. Additionally, hiring SEO experts or an SEO content writer to curate content ensures consistency in quality.
To avoid misinformation, let a subject expert review your content.
3. Use Credible Sources
Establish credibility by using official sources, studies, research papers and blogs by experts in your field.
Link to trusted sources, such as academic databases, news publications and established expert and agency sites.
This is especially crucial for YMYL content, where the quality of information can affect users’ financial, medical or legal well-being.
4. Cultivate a Positive Brand Reputation
Maintaining a positive brand image is crucial for Google E-E-A-T as it impacts the trustworthiness of your content and site overall. To achieve this, reputation management is key.
Manage your online reputation by actively monitoring for negative reviews or press. Respond promptly and professionally to address the issue if you come across negative content.
Remember that your brand’s reputation extends beyond just your website. It includes social media profiles, review sites and any other platforms where your brand is present.
5. Take Advantage of User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is a valuable resource for building trust with your audience and establishing brand loyalty. In fact, 79% of online shoppers say that UGC highly impacts purchasing decisions (Social Media Today, 2021).
Consumers or website users create this type of content rather than the brands themselves.
By leveraging UGC, you can tap into the power of social proof. When potential customers see real people using and enjoying your products or services, they are likelier to trust and engage with your brand.
Some forms of UGC include images, video testimonials, product reviews, YouTube videos and blog posts.
You can encourage your customers to create UGC by hosting contests, offering incentives for sharing content or asking them to share their experiences with your brand.
6. Earn Quality Backlinks
In 2016, Andrey Lipattsev, a Partner Development Manager at Google, confirmed that backlinks are one of Google’s strongest ranking factors.
This means the more high-quality backlinks your website has, the better your chances of ranking higher on Google SERPS.
High-quality backlinks come from other authoritative websites in your industry, and they signal to Google that your website is also a trustworthy source of information.
However, it’s important to note that not all backlinks are created equal. Google considers the relevance of the linking website, the anchor text used in the link and the overall quality of the linking webpage when evaluating a backlink.
Here are some ways to build authoritative backlinks:
• Create linkable content assets. (e.g., helpful infographics or video guides)
• Share visuals or compelling data on social media. (and always include links to your articles on those posts)
• Publish original research that people might want to cite and link to.
• Create helpful how-to guides for topics in your niche.
• Reach out to other publications to see if they are interested in linking to your piece.
Boost Your Website’s E-E-A-T Score With Thrive
A strong E-E-A-T score is critical for your website’s success in today’s competitive digital landscape. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can start taking steps to improve your website’s ranking.
To summarize, here are ways you can achieve that:
• Produce high-quality content that reflects experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness and Google’s helpful content update.
• Optimize your website structure and functionality to provide an excellent user experience.
• Manage your online reputation and cultivate a positive brand image.
• Encourage user-generated content and leverage it as a trust signal.
• Build authoritative backlinks to establish credibility and trust with search engines.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of improving your site’s E-E-A-T, turn to Thrive Internet Marketing Agency. We have a suite of digital marketing strategies, including quality content writing services, local SEO, technical SEO and franchise SEO to help you establish and maintain a strong E-E-A-T presence.
Contact us today to see how Thrive’s SEO experts employ quality content writing services to keep businesses updated with Google’s ever-changing algorithm updates.