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What is E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness

If you’re familiar with SEO at all, you have probably heard about E-A-T and may even know something about it. It’s an important concept in SEO but many people find that it’s not necessarily an easy concept to understand. However, anyone can learn what E-A-T means, why it’s important to search, and how to implement it.

What Is E-A-T?

E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It’s one of the factors that Google uses to assess the overall quality of a web page for ranking purposes. The concept originated from the Google Search Quality Rater guidelines and has existed since 2014, but didn’t become more well-known until 2018, with the release of Google’s Medic Update.

Page quality is essential for Google to assess when determining how a page should rank in search results. E-A-T is just one of the important factors, with others including page purpose, content quality, information about the website, and the reputation of the website.

How Google Assesses Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness

The E-A-T of a page is determined in several different ways. Google looks at three key elements that affect the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of a page.

The three main things that Google takes into account are:

  • The expertise of the content creator
  • The authoritativeness of the content creator, the content itself, and the website
  • The trustworthiness of the content creator, content, and website

Google uses these components to ensure that they return quality search results for their users. They want to ensure that the information that they provide for their users is both accurate and useful. Their aim is to help people seek out trustworthy information that teaches them what they want to know and helps them to make decisions. That’s why the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of a website, its content, and the content creator are all important. For example, a health article written by a qualified doctor on the website of an established medical organization has a higher E-A-T than an unestablished blogger.

Expertise is treated differently depending on the website. Sites about medical advice or covering the news need to have very different experts compared to hobby sites. Google acknowledges that some topics don’t need as much formal expertise as others and that “ordinary people” can have expertise in a topic due to their life experience. This type of expertise is also valued, and formal training or education isn’t necessary for Google to recognise it.

Websites Held to High E-A-T Standards

While Google recognises different types of expertise, there are some web pages and websites that they scrutinise more when it comes to E-A-T. YMYL websites, as they are known, are held to higher standards than other sites. The acronym stands for “your money or your life”, and refers to sites that cover topics including finance, health and safety, and happiness. Google says: “We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low-quality YMYL pages could negatively impact a person’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”

Some of the websites included in this category are those that cover the news and current events, the law, government, and civic issues, finance, shopping, health and safety, and content discussing different groups of people (based on e.g. ethnicity, race, gender, religion, etc.).

The Importance of E-A-T in SEO Ranking

Understanding the importance of E-A-T in the wider context of SEO is important. As far as E-A-T being a ranking factor, it doesn’t directly affect the ranking of websites in Google search results. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not unimportant. There are other ranking factors that Google uses to assess whether a page has the necessary expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Google has stated the importance of E-A-T in several publications and discussed it in many instances. They said that E-A-T is important in their rankings in their white paper “How Google Fights Disinformation”, and they also mention it many times in the Search Quality Rater Guidelines. E-A-T involves evaluating a variety of factors that can be measured to assess the quality of a page, website, and content creators.

E-A-T is important because it’s all part of improving the user experience. Google is constantly striving to make useful updates for users and ensure they get what they want from every search that they carry out. It’s an important part of assessing whether a website delivers value. E-A-T should be an essential consideration in any SEO strategy.

Examples of How to Improve E-A-T

Although there is no one ranking factor relating to E-A-T, there are multiple ways to improve the E-A-T of a website through your search strategy. Improving the content on your website is vital if you want to make individual pages and your website as a whole more authoritative and trustworthy while displaying your expertise.

Both on-page and off-page SEO are important when working on E-A-T. Your site’s link profile is a key ranking factor for building authority, so it’s essential to work on building links and citations from relevant, high-quality websites. Link building requires a lot of effort to get it right, but it’s worth the time it takes. As well as more quality links, increasing your number of mentions on other sites is also useful. When other websites mention your brand name more, it helps to show that you’re a trusted authority.

When it comes to on-page SEO, the quality of your content is a key factor. Creating quality content that’s relevant to your audience is a must, and you should also keep it up to date to ensure it remains accurate. While some information might remain accurate and relevant for a long time, there are some topics where facts can change or new research or expert opinions can emerge. Ensuring that experts are creating your content is helpful, especially if they may already have an established reputation. Listing content creators and their credentials can help to give them more authority.

E-A-T is an essential consideration for your digital marketing strategy and something that we take into account when planning every customer’s campaign.