For the past few months, the market is abuzz with the acronym: E-A-T. This term has been around for quite some time now. But, ever since Google released a major algorithm update on 1st August 2018, E-A-T has gained much more significance. Following this major algorithm update, several websites related to health and wellness had to deal with huge losses in traffic and revenue. Hence the name – ‘the medic update’ – coined by SEO guru Barry Schwartz. Other than health and finance, sectors such as e-commerce, travel and entertainment were also affected.
What is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. This term was first used in Google’s ‘Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines’ which focused on evaluating the quality of websites. Demonstrating good E-A-T can improve your search engine rankings. Google has given a name for the category of website pages that have to follow E-A-T – YMYL. It stands for Your money or your life. Any webpage that can affect the users’ happiness, health or wealth positively or negatively fall under the category of YMYL. Examples include shopping or financial transaction pages, websites providing financial guidance, medical information pages, legal information pages etc.
Google wants to provide only the correct information to its users and therefore display only those results that have a high level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. With this update, Google aims to pull down sites that share uneducated advice or are potentially fraudulent.
What is ‘Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines’?
Google developed the ‘Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines’ to guide their human rating team when they manually reviewed pages for Google users. Google uses machine learning to ‘train’ its algorithm. The human team carries out spot checks to determine whether the ranking algorithm recognizes web page quality effectively. If there are any major changes, the human rating team inform the engineers to improve the ranking algorithm. Once there is a big improvement, we get an update.
After July 2018, Google made some additions to these guidelines. The search quality evaluators would now review not only the E-A-T of the website but also that of the authors. Huge huh? In other words, if the author of your web page does not have the credentials with regards to the subject matter, then your web page will be considered as low quality especially if the said web page deals with YMYL subject. If you want some financial advice, wouldn’t you want to read articles from someone who is known as an expert authority in that field rather than a great content writer? That is why Google wants to display articles written by people with E-A-T. So, if you are not known as an authority in your field, then you need to work on getting more brand recognition.
How to develop healthy E-A-Ting?
- Include author details for all blogs: The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines clearly state that Google wants to know whether the content creators for a website have E-A-T. So YMYL pages must be created by people with credibility. For website landing pages, customer support, business contact information should be easy to locate. For blog posts, the author’s name and relevant credentials should be displayed. If this information is unavailable or difficult to find, then your E-A-T score would suffer.
- Skilful communication: You may be an expert in your niche. But you should also communicate this knowledge with your consumers in a way that engages them. Expertise comes down to not only having the information but also knowing what the audience wants and how to communicate that information in the best possible manner. You need to focus on creating content that is easily digestible. Keyword research can help you find out what your audience is searching for. By understanding the searcher’s intent, you can prepare content for future consumer queries and link them internally. These steps will help you to improve the quality of your content and convey your expertise to your consumers.
- Get good reviews: Quality raters pay attention to what others are saying about your business online. If people are reviewing your competitors and not you, then that means you are not recognised as an authority. Also, if most people reviewing your business are complaining, then obviously you’re bound to end up with low E-A-T. Building a positive brand image and getting your brand or business mentioned on authoritative sites is vital to improving your E-A-T score.
- Get active on social media: Active presence on social media can definitely improve your E-A-T score. Social media is an easy tool to connect with your audience, industry influencers and leaders. You can start discussions to answer queries and rectify any problems that your consumers may be facing. This will help to improve brand awareness and drive organic traffic to your site, thus influencing your E-A-T score.
- Secure your website: Security is an indispensable part of trustworthiness. An e-commerce checkout page with an insecure connection would receive a low rating according to the Search Evaluator Guidelines. Google Chrome browser marks all HTTP sites with a “Not secure” tag. This shows that Google is damn serious about security.
With this ‘medic’ update Google has again emphasised that SEO is not about tricking search engines and getting on top. It’s about understanding that your ultimate aim is to make life easier for your consumers. Following E-A-T will help you take a holistic approach to SEO and content marketing. The E-A-T criteria essentially mean improving the quality of your website and content by developing a positive brand image. Following the above guidelines can help you to improve your website’s quality and achieve a high E-A-T score.
Do you have any tips to share on how to deal with the E-A-T algorithm update? We’d love to hear from you.