E-E-A-T Your Greens: Google’s Content Guidelines Are Vital For SEO
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E-E-A-T, or Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness is a handy summary of the criteria used by Google throughout its Search Quality Guidelines documentation.
The Search Quality Guidelines are provided to Google’s Search Quality Raters (SQRs) to help them assess the quality of various different websites and webpages.
The E-E-A-T criteria are intended to remind the SQRs (and therefore website owners) what Google considers to be high-quality and helpful content.
SEOs can use these guidelines to gain a better understanding of what Google prioritizes. By demonstrating your own site’s commitment to these guidelines and quality content you can help boost your site’s reputation in Google’s eyes and, therefore, in their search results.
We’ll cover what E-E-A-T is, how Google uses E-E-A-T, and how E-E-A-T affects SEO.
What is Google E-E-A-T, or Google EEAT?
Google E-E-A-T, sometimes shortened to Google EEAT is a summary of the key points used by Google’s Search Quality Raters as part of their Search Quality Guidelines. These were last updated in December 2022 when the additional E was added to denote Experience.
E-E-A-T isn’t a thing in-and-of itself. Instead, it’s simply a handy acronym for webmasters and SQRs alike to bear in mind.
Bing has their own equivalent called Quality and Credibility, or QC, for determining a page’s authority and relevance. The guidelines aren’t as strictly defined as Google’s Search Quality Guideline, instead being included as part of their general webmaster guidelines.
Google has actually patented several aspects of its algorithms and this includes several developments for categorizing websites and assessing their levels of expertise.
How Does Google Use E-E-A-T?
Google first launched E-E-A-T, or E-A-T as it was back then, as part of their Google Rater Guidelines in 2016.
E-A-T was then significantly overhauled as part of the Medic update in 2018.
From the very start, and particularly with the Medic update, E-E-A-T has been intrinsically linked with YMYL topics (Your Money or Your Life).
YMYL refers to topics that involve your money and your life i.e your personal finances, your health, and your well-being.
Google wants to ensure that content based on these sensitive topics is created by genuine, trustworthy sites using credible and reliable sources as the basis of their articles.
The E-E-A-T principles apply to any content-creating site, but Google is of course most keen to address topics like these that can have a profound effect on anyone that reads and actions the advice given in these posts.
Our systems aren’t looking for EAT. Our raters are using that to see if our systems are working well to show good information. There are many different signals that, if we get it right, align with what a good human EAT assessment would be. See also: https://t.co/1fs2oJ9Gtl pic.twitter.com/GBbnYEjJUV
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 19, 2020
It is notable that Google doesn’t directly look for E-E-A-T as part of its algorithms. Instead, E-E-A-T is used by their quality raters to assess how good a job the algorithms are doing in rewarding helpful and high-quality content.
Youtube actually uses a similar system to tackle misinformation on its own platform using the 4 R Framework – Remove, Raise, Reduce, Reward.
The end goal for all of these systems is to properly credit and reward those who generate useful, well-researched, and authoritative content.
Google also uses particularly reputable content as part of its Knowledge Graph to help generate useful answers within Knowledge Panels. These tend to be for direct queries with set answers – one of their examples is ‘How tall is the Eiffel Tower?’ and only sites with demonstrable E-E-A-T should be used to help form these panels.
Why Is E-E-A-T Important For SEO?
As demonstrated in Danny Sullivan’s tweet earlier, E-E-A-T does not have a direct influence on ranking.
This isn’t to say it isn’t valuable for SEOs though. It should Instead be considered as part of Google’s overall quality rating for a site.
Adhering to the principles of E-E-A-T is a clear best practice for SEO as it helps ensure you are providing the best and most helpful experience possible for your readers.
This should always be the priority for any content you create. The help you provide for searchers will be rewarded in turn with clicks, views, and links. This will then help your SERP positioning.
You should never put the cart in front of the horse, or create content only for the purpose of achieving rankings. Instead post thoughtful content with searchers and your readers in mind, rather than attempt to keyword-stuff your way to page 1.
Demonstrable E-E-A-T may actually become near-vital for indexing as Google continues to prioritize authoritative and helpful content. Updates such as the aptly named Helpful Content Update demonstrate just how important credibility is to them when it comes to ranking webpages and, in particular, articles and blog posts.
Clear and credible E-E-A-T helps improve Google’s understanding of your domain as it can better interpret the topics you cover and where you should be rewarded with prominence for your own experience and expertise. It also helps categorize any related entities, boosting your performance across the board.
It helps future-proof your organic performance as one of the most white-hat approaches possible.
Every Google update is fundamentally geared towards providing the searcher with a better and more accurate experience.
As such Google will always strive to reward good quality and trustworthy content. We’ve all seen examples of low-effort spun websites getting to the top of the rankings, but this never lasts.
With their unswerving commitment to E-E-A-T high quality content will always shine through in the end. Incorporate E-E-A-T into your SEO content guidelines and sit back and watch as you EEAT the competition up.
E-E-A-T and AI
With the advent of AI-generated content flooding webpages Google have also updated their guidelines on AI usage accordingly. It is notable that they don’t prohibit the use of AI content outright, but instead advise pairing AI content creation with human review from a reputable source.
“however content is produced, those seeking success in Google Search should be looking to produce original, high-quality, people-first content demonstrating qualities E-E-A-T.“
It may be tempting to try to pair AI with the Google Rater Guidelines and in fact LocalSEOGuide’s Jess Peck tried to do just that.
new post for @lsgseo from me!https://t.co/8wgy0q8DnS
It’s got everything
-extracting data from the quality rater guidelines
-drink recipes based on popular SEO tools
— Jess Peck 🐍🤖🦀 (@jessthebp) March 21, 2023
Ultimately, as enticing as this may be there are several reasons why this is not the catch-all solution it might appear.
Concerns of legal matters and LLM training models aside it fundamentally boils down to a lack of reliable E-E-A-T.
There is no way of definitively knowing that what the AI has generated is correct and within the E-E-A-T guidelines without being an expert yourself and reviewing the content. At that point, well, would you look at that. You are demonstrating your own E-E-A-T as you edit the AI output which is exactly what Google wants.
CNET and Bankrate recently trialed a similar set-up in which they had human experts edit output from AI writers but felt they had to stop due to the negative headlines:
It’s of course worth noting that in this instance the penalty didn’t come from Google but instead from dubious users who mistrusted the articles. Perhaps the outlets didn’t do enough to convince the readers of their E-E-A-T credentials within the articles!
Having covered what E-E-A-T is and how Google uses E-E-A-T we’ll now break down the constituent parts of the acronym and what each part entails.
Experience was added as an E-E-A-T tenet in December 2022.
This was, presumably, in response to AI developments as AI content really began to take off around then due to the public release of ChatGPT. This was introduced around the same time as the Helpful Content Update and Google SpamBrain updates which further cements this addition as a response to the rise of AI content.
Experience is not to be confused with Google’s Page Experience update which rolled out in 2021, but instead refers to the author’s experience with the given topic.
How To Demonstrate Experience
- First-hand knowledge
- Personal experiences
- Case studies
- Original data and research
- Demonstrable examples
- Source citations
The two easiest ways to demonstrate your experience are with your first-hand knowledge and your own personal experience of the subject matter.
Personal anecdotes and examples can help solidify the impression of expertise within the article.
While this has a personal touch it can also refer to your domain as a whole. If the domain demonstrates clear experience within the space there will be a built-in assumption that those writing for it will also have genuine subject matter experience.
Experience can also be demonstrated with a variety of more data-driven indicators.
Case studies plus original data and research demonstrate that not only can you use existing data but that you are providing new and original insights and material to help the searcher/reader.
Finally, sourcing external citations for claims you make can actually help show your own expertise. It shows you are actively engaging with other sources and can use them to support your own points within your article, just like in an academic essay.
Proving expertise is all about verifying yourself as a reliable information source. There is, naturally, crossover with experience as the experience you have helps turn you into an expert in the field.
How To Prove You’re An Expert
- Relevant technical knowledge and language
- Data, statistics, research, quotes
- Author and editor bios
- External expert reviewers
- Update old content
- Use schema
The first and easiest way to prove your expertise is to write accordingly for your level of expertise using language relevant to your given industry.
There will of course be times when you want to write a simpler post, perhaps aimed towards beginners, but you can still demonstrate your expertise by breaking down complex industry terms within that post.
You can further demonstrate expertise by properly sourcing and utilizing data, statistics, research, and quotes.
This might be the original material you produced to display your experience or it might instead be using, interrogating, and building upon other material from sources in your industry to provide your own unique takes, insights, and help to the user.
Producing genuine author and editor bios to attribute to posts can also help compound your appearance of expertise. Link out to LinkedIn bios, include relevant qualifications and personal history to tangibly build your appearance as a subject-matter expert.
This can be paired with external expert reviewers for particularly tricky or in-depth topics. In this instance, you are leaning on their E-E-A-T to bolster the E-E-A-T of your article as a whole.
We’d also advise revisiting old content to ensure that it is both up-to-date and relevant and that it best reflects your current levels of expertise and any new knowledge you’ve since gained. This can also help provide the additional boost of a bump in the SERPs as the new material is picked up, which is always a bonus!
Finally use schema markup to help improve Google’s understanding of the page, the content, and the people who produce it. There’s a great post here from Daniel K Cheung about how to do this:
There’s a reason big brands consistently rank well and that is because they come with bags of built-in authority.
Becoming an online authority is all about proving yourself to be a consistent force within your niche with plenty of clear external markers and support from external users/searchers.
How To Become An Online Authority
- In-depth about us page
- Linking out to authoritative sources
- Link building
- Social proof
- Traffic and user engagement
- Utilise user-generated content
- Brand SERP features
- Your domain’s topical authority
The first way to build your authority and credibility is with an in-depth About Us page. Like the author profiles previously use this as an opportunity to go deep on the experiences and expertise of your team. Talk about the history of your site and the authority you have built over your time in the niche.
If the site is relatively new you can lean on past experience with other sites or brands, along with those of your team, to codify the authority you bring to the niche and to your content.
Again as above linking out to authoritative sources helps build your own authority as you build on what they say while indicating that you are active in the space and know of useful sources. It’s all about helping the reader/searcher and sometimes that does include potentially pointing them elsewhere!
Link building is a massive way to build your authority in the eyes of Google. As Google sees more links pointing towards you, ideally from authoritative sources, it is more likely to credit you accordingly and to see you as an authoritative source yourself.
Let me explain why this is a great tip for those trying to grow organic traffic to websites:
– Google looks for authority (EEAT)
– This content will be more share-friendly = more authority through natural link building
– Authority + Good UX = Great rankings!
— Christian | SEO Expert 🔗 (@ChristianR_SEO) March 11, 2023
In light of developments such as the SpamBrain update it is more important than ever to ensure that these links come from authoritative or contextual sources and not just cheap or spammy sites that can actually devalue your pages and undermine your credibility.
Links go hand-in-hand with social proof in being clear indicators of your rising authority. Social proof can include user testimonials, reviews from external independent sources, or even just social sharing around your site and the content you produce.
These links and social material will help increase your domain traffic and user engagement. As these metrics increase Google will reward your pages accordingly as they clearly provide a useful and shareable experience for your readers. Again, it’s all about being helpful first and foremost.
This then ties into utilizing and moderating user-generated content within your pages. Comment sections can be a great way to drive user interaction, engage directly with your audience, and, importantly, clearly define your authority as you discuss and potentially correct or expand upon UGC.
Finally, you will want to secure all available brand SERP features such as the knowledge panel and ”about the source” information to appear as a credible and reliable source with a history in your niche.
As an example, you can see our “About the source” panel here:
Together these factors all help build your domain’s topical authority within your niche. Niche-relevant links, traffic, and user engagement will all help build your appearance of authority.
The final facet of the E-E-A-T guidelines is trustworthiness.
This is essential for websites to adhere to both to act within Google’s guidelines and, quite simply, from a moral point of view.
Trustworthiness in this instance is focused on your site’s foundation and any possibly duplicitous behavior you might engage in. It is important, however, to remember that your content should also be trustworthy in this era of disinformation and bad-faith actors.
How To Win Google’s Trust
- SSL certificate
- Secure payment gateways
- Good reviews
- Respond to negative reviews
- NAP citations
The first and easiest way to cement your site’s trustworthiness it to set up your SSL certification. This immediately demonstrates a commitment to securing your user’s data and providing a reliable and trustworthy user experience.
Secure payment gateways are another quick and dependable win that will go miles in building trust in the eyes of both Google and your site’s user base. No one wants to pop their card details into an unsecured website or payment gateway and many will bounce right off any unsecured page.
Garnering good reviews is another excellent way to build your website’s trustworthiness. These have to be genuine reviews and we’d always advise using an independent external website for your reviews. This will clearly show you cannot manipulate them and that any user reviews come from genuine users representing their actual experiences.
As disappointing as it is to receive negative reviews it is also perfectly natural. Do not try to hide them. This will only cause more trouble as you appear to be acting in bad faith and, frankly, a site with only 5-star reviews can look just as dodgy! Nobody is perfect. Just take the time to respond fully and clearly to any and all bad reviews, not only because it is just good business but also because it helps build your trustworthiness.
Finally, you can build your NAP (name, address, phone number) citations and GBP (Google Business Profile). Doing so will send clear trust signals to Google that your business is reputable and has a set location.
How To Measure E-E-A-T For SEO
Sadly for an industry that loves a good metric there is no way to produce a set ‘score’ or measure of E-E-A-T for SEO.
Instead, your domain’s E-E-A-T complements PageRank.
You should therefore look to establish E-E-A-T in conjunction with all the other conventions of SEO to bolster and complement each other.
Optimize your pages for keywords and topics you are an expert in, create content based on your experiences in your niche and drive links to them, ensure your website can be crawled and indexed efficiently, and along the way keep showcasing your brand’s legitimacy.
Remember To E-E-A-T Your Greens
At all stages of your website and content creation process bear in mind the Quality Rater Guidelines and think about how your site and pages would appear in the eyes of the Search Quality Raters!
This handy breakdown from Google helps summarize several key points in layman’s terms but remember: you’ll always have to put the work in to establish your credentials!
With a firm E-E-A-T baseline, you’ll be able to move forward with your SEO and link building to get the SERP rankings you deserve!