Google’s E-A-T, a concept very relevant to SEO, stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
It is an increasingly important concept to understand when working on ranking your website.
Background (skip this section if you aren’t interested in the history of E-A-T)
E-A-T was first announced (and labelled as “very important”) in August 2018, when Google released its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. It was mentioned 186 times in the guide.
Commentators at the time began calling this update “the medic update” because of the guideline document’s emphasis on E-A-T be particularly important in the area of health advice.
Google initiated this update in order to connect the user with more expert, authoritative and trustworthy sources, especially in areas that relate to Y.M.Y.L (Your Money or Your Life), aka anything associated with your health, wealth, or happiness.
Google’s algorithm processes
Google makes approximately 500 changes to its search engine algorithm a year. These changes are rigorously tested, including by quality raters (also known as quality evaluators) – external people who check the quality of the results.
Google works with approximately 10,000 raters. Their feedback is sent to the search engineers to help them asses the results of the latest algorithm change and then decide whether or not to edit or implement it.
More details about each aspect of E-A-T
Let’s look closer at some practical pointers on how to fulfil each element of E-A-T.
Authority. Online mentions of your website or the author of your post will help build your authority.
Having a Wikipedia page, for example, is a great help (but these can’t exist for just anyone).
These mentions don’t need include direct backlinks (though they always help, too). They could just be brief mentions of you.
It isn’t always easy to organically gain such mentions, but if you promote them well you can increase the frequency with which they appear.
How important is E-A-T?
Google acknowledges that in many areas there is no formal way to evaluate a website or posts E-A-T.
“Think about the topic of the page. What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well? The standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page.”
For example, if someone is a lifestyle blogger, there is no easy way to evaluate their expertise. However, Google acknowledges this:
“…ordinary people may be considered experts in topics where they have life experience. If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an ‘expert’ on the topic, we will value this ‘everyday expertise’ and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having ‘formal’ education or training in the field.”
Why this is relevant to your business
Content creation is a huge part of SEO. Therefore, when you hire an SEO agency or freelancer, part of their role should be ensuring this content appears on your website.
However, an SEO expert is unlikely to also coincidently be an expert in your business’ domain (you are the best expert in your business). Part of their responsibility, no doubt, is to learn about your domain to certain degree, but they won’t and can’t reach your levels of expertise or authority…
As Google continues to improve its search algorithm it will no doubt look to find new and innovative ways to improve how it detects and applies E-A-T.
Besides the above-mentioned (and a few other) steps, E-A-T is best built by being honest and using effective promotion. In the long-run these will complement its organic growth.