Article key takeaways
- E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
- E-E-A-T is a system Google uses to determine the quality of the content found on a website.
- Google uses a team of humans to check the relevance of search results in their local areas.
- Google’s team ensures web pages match the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, which can have an impact on your SEO strategy and search rankings.
- If you write Your Money Your Life (YMYL) content, it needs to be accurate. Google penalises misinformation about YMYL topics.
What are Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines?
There’s a reason why Google is the world’s favourite search engine. The company is serious about providing a positive user experience and serving the most relevant search results.
The platform is constantly evolving, which keeps SEO experts on their toes. In just one year, Google made 4,725 improvements to the search experience.
To create the best possible SERPs (search engine results pages), Google uses a range of strategies. It can be difficult to stay on top of them all, but one thing you should be aware of is the Search Quality Rater Guidelines.
The guidelines are called E-E-A-T. They cover four key areas:
Most of the crawling, indexing and serving happens behind the scenes. But, search engines are designed for humans, not robots. Oversight by real people is Google’s way of ticking all the boxes and making sure the service meets human standards.
To do this, a team of thousands of external Search Quality Raters look at the guidelines to evaluate the quality of SERPs.
These people work in different countries and make sure the top results are suited to their local region. When the algorithms change, each Rater looks at the E-E-A-T factors and gives the search engine feedback.
Google can then use this information to decide if their algorithm changes are a success, or if modifications are required.
E is for Experience
Experience means your content is written from personal experience. It could be a hairdresser sharing tips for cutting hair, a nurse talking about issues in the aged care system, or an investor sharing their stock market tips.
If you want to boost your rankings and your content has been a little lacklustre, go back to basics. Think about what you do best and use your experience to personalise your articles.
What if your website content doesn’t line up with your personal background? Consider working with contributors who have real-life experience that aligns with your brand!
Remember, you can gain experience at any time by trying new things and writing about them. Sharing a recipe? Cook it, tweak it and add your thoughts to enhance the instructions. Writing about a band? Go to the concert. Want to talk about your local community? Become a volunteer.
The key is to demonstrate that you have genuine experience – you don’t necessarily need to be a master of every topic.
E is for Expertise
Expertise is about the honed knowledge that comes from education and qualifications.
For example, a blog post on healthy diet advice written by a qualified dietitian will have expertise. The person who wrote the article has the credentials to back up what they’re saying. Of course, they probably have experience too, which is a bonus in Google’s eyes.
On the other hand, someone with experience won’t necessarily have expertise. A person may have lost weight by changing their lifestyle. They’ll still have a lot to offer, but because they don’t have a qualification, the value of their content will rely on their experience.
Increasing your expertise with a uni degree isn’t something you can do overnight. However, short courses and skill endorsements may help to give your credibility a boost.
Google determines the expertise of a writer by cross-checking their online presence. This can be as simple as checking the About Us page of your website to look for qualifications. Or it could be as complex as checking published work, awards, social media profiles (like LinkedIn), professional accomplishments, and the quality of the websites that link to your content.
A is for Authoritativeness
Have you noticed that similar websites always pop up when you do a Google search? For example, if you’re looking for SEO tips, the top-ranking links will probably be from Semrush, Backlinko, Hubspot, Moz or Yoast.
A lot of this comes down to authority. Sites with a good reputation and high popularity usually score extra points with the Search Quality Raters.
There are a range of tools out there that will give you insights in authority, but we recommend starting with the free Domain Authority Checker from Moz. Enter your URL and you’ll get a Domain Authority ranking. It’ll be a number between 0 and 100, with 100 being the best.
One key element is “Linking Root Domains,” which are backlinks from unique external sites. When other high-quality websites link back to yours, it can increase your authority.
Keep in mind that these types of tools are only to be used as a guide. They don’t have any connection to Google and you won’t be penalised for any negative results.
It’s not just about the tech. When humans are checking the algorithms, they also focus on other types of authority. For example, if you or one of your authors has a strong internet presence, it can show that you are genuinely experienced in a topic, which increases your authority as a content creator.
Author profiles, social media pages and rich content can also play a role in your authority score.
T is for Trustworthiness
Finally, there’s trustworthiness. It may be the last on the acronym list, but it ties everything together.
When you have a combination of expertise, experience and authority, you get trust. If you’re focusing on the other core areas, trustworthiness will come naturally.
Google keeps rewarding the same websites because it trusts them. Here’s a quick list of tips to build trust:
- Be honest with your visitors and don’t try to trick them
- Update your website regularly with informative, up-to-date content
- Make sure your website is secure with HTTPS protocol
- Take a slow and steady approach and invest in long-term SEO
Think about when you first meet a stranger. Do you trust them completely? Probably not. Trust is built over time. Once you get to know someone, you’ll be more likely to let them babysit your child or look after your wallet.
It’s the same with Google. Once the search engine trusts your website, it will be more likely to recommend you to its user base.
What is YMYL?
Now that we’ve broken down the E-E-A-T guidelines, there’s one more term we need to bring to your attention.
YMYL stands for “Your Money Your Life.” It includes any topics that can have a direct impact on the reader’s health or well-being. If your content falls into the following categories, it’s probably classed as YMYL:
- News and current affairs – think local news and politics
- Legal information and advice – think laws and regulations
- Financial information and advice – think budgets and financial planning
- Emergency information – think natural disasters and steps for emergency preparation
- Health and medical advice – think medical symptoms, nutrition, vitamins and treatments
While E-E-A-T can improve any SERP, it comes into full focus when there are YMYL topics. Why? Because misinformation can be detrimental, and Google does its best to reduce potential harm to its users.
The wrong advice could leave someone making the wrong financial decisions. Or they may do something illegal based on the information they’ve read.
For instance, say someone is prescribed a new medication, but they can’t remember if there are any warnings or side effects. They do a quick search and find a website with an article about the drug.
Based on the advice, the person takes the medication. Unfortunately, due to the inaccuracy of the information, it leads to serious health consequences.
Google doesn’t want that outcome, so it’s very careful when serving search results for YMYL topics.
As you can see, YMYL and E-E-A-T go hand in hand. Misinformation will always be on the internet, but when search engines make it more difficult to find, users benefit.
How to Improve Your E-E-A-T
If you’re prepared to put in the time, it is possible to improve your E-E-A-T and your search engine rankings.
Start with these strategies:
1. Write Quality Content
As the internet has grown, it has become a competitive environment for web owners. Content has always been King, and this isn’t going to change anytime soon.
With high-quality service pages, blog posts, articles and reviews, your web pages can stand out.
One tip we can’t go past is the “no fluff” rule. A long-form article can be gold, but no one will read it if it’s not useful. So cut the excess, break up large blocks of text with descriptive headings, and fact-check everything you write.
Reputable sources can take your content to the next level and target the Expertise guideline. Look for up-to-date statistics that are less than two years old and use them to support your text. You can also add references and links to other reputable sites.
Here’s an example. A business in the medical industry will have health-based content on its website. Any facts and stats need to be accurate, so you’d get your sources from medical journals, rather than Wikipedia.
TIP: It takes a few minutes to run your content through a free spelling and grammar check. Even well-researched, informative articles can be ruined by avoidable spelling mistakes.
2. Ask Who, How, Why?
Google wants you to be successful. The company doesn’t give away all of its secrets, but the web giant has a smorgasbord of guides that can help you “make it” with SEO.
Why would Google reveal its secrets? When websites do better, it means the SERPs are better. The satisfaction of the end user is the priority, and it has a flow-on effect when websites are creating informative, trustworthy, useful resources.
Google suggests using a “Who, How, and Why” approach to help you meet the E-E-A-T guidelines. When creating content, consider breaking it down into:
Be clear about “Who” wrote the content. When you have that information on your website, it makes it easier for Search Quality Raters to verify your expertise and/or experience.
Most blogging platforms come with the option to add author bios. This feature is something you should take advantage of. Your author bios should match the tone of your website and can include:
- The author’s name
- The author’s background
- The author’s photograph
- The author’s socials or personal website
When you offer article bylines, you may even attract other experts who are willing to contribute their knowledge to your website. This will give your readers even more value when they visit.
Another “Who” to consider is your About Us page. Has it been updated lately? Does it include information about your team, qualifications and achievements?
And don’t forget to plug your social media links and email newsletter! These external assets can be checked to understand who you are, and what kind of profile you have.
You also need to think about “How” the content was created. The answer will depend on the type of content you’re creating.
The most important thing is that you’re clear and honest about the process. For example, if you’ve been paid for the article, you should end with a “sponsored post” tag.
Or, if it’s a review, you should be upfront and mention the products you tested and how long you used them. Rich media such as photos and videos can also be used to support your content.
We’ll talk more about AI later in the piece, but Google suggests you disclose any content that was computer-generated. Unless you’ve rewritten the text to make it your own, consider adding a “made by AI,” or “supported by AI” disclaimer.
Google also looks at “Why” content was created. In the search engine’s eyes, the answer should be:
“To provide information and help people find the answers they’re looking for.”
This goal fits with the E-E-A-T guidelines. If you nail it, you’ll be rewarded in the SERPs.
Your goal shouldn’t be:
“To manipulate search results.”
Google has an anti-spam policy and anything that exists purely to beat the system is a no-no. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in SEO – but you should put the needs of your target audience first.
TIP: 47% of business owners research their audience. This is a crucial step if you want to write content that provides the answers people are looking for.
3. Use AI Sparingly
As AI writing tools such as ChatGPT become more common, you may be wondering how this impacts E-E-A-T. When it comes to SEO, AI is a complicated topic.
As far as Google is concerned, AI-generated content is not automatically excluded from search results. But, this doesn’t mean you should rely on it as the sole way to build your blog.
Anything you publish on your website should still meet the Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness test.
The way AI content is generated means that AI does not produce any unique expertise or experience. AI can regurgitate ideas it has found elsewhere, but that doesn’t automatically translate into good content, or content that’s useful for your customers.
If you do opt for AI-generated content, use it as a writing prompt, rather than uploading AI content directly to your website.
Here are a few factors to consider:
- Don’t assume something is true just because it appears in AI-generated content
- When it comes to content, always aim for quality over quantity
- Any generated content should be fact-checked, edited and proof-read before publishing
- Using AI to manipulate search results can be a red flag for Google
- AI content is not always unique, and duplicate content can cause your pages to not be indexed by Google
TIP: YMYL topics need to be accurate. If your focus is health, news, legal or financial content, additional steps need to be taken to ensure AI-generated content gets Google’s thumbs up.
4. Build Backlinks
We’ve touched on authority and how it’s a consideration for Google Search Quality Raters, as well as how high-authority sites are usually at the top of SERPs.
A common strategy used to improve authority is with backlinks placed on other websites.
Link building is a crucial part of your SEO strategy. It’s also a big topic that deserves its own article. To keep it simple, we can say that backlinks are links placed on third-party websites that point to your website. Each backlink acts as a vote of confidence that the content on your website is worth reading.
Google checks backlinks (as well as other types of links) and uses them to figure out how authoritative and trustworthy your website is.
The key to building backlinks is to focus on quality. Backlinks from high quality, high authority websites are extremely valuable. Backlinks from spammy or low quality websites can actually harm your credibility.
There are a range of tools available that give insights into your backlinks, including Google Search Console.
This is a free portal for webmasters that gives you in-depth insights into your web pages. There’s a dedicated “links” section that generates all the information you need.
You’ll get data that look something like this:
Google Console link insights look at:
- Top linked internal pages
- Top linked external pages
- Top linking sites
- Tip linking text
You can click each link to gain more information.
Getting others to “vouch” for your website can take time. For example, you may need to contribute guest posts to position yourself as an expert. Look for partner sites in your niche that are willing to provide backlinks in exchange for high quality content.
TIP: Don’t forget to share your content. You’ve gone to the effort of putting it together, now spread the word on social media and via email. If people like what they see, the backlinks will come organically.
5. Answer Questions
Users perform searches because they’re looking for answers. It’s not uncommon for search terms to start with “who” “what” “where” “when” or “why.”
Because E-E-A-T is about providing quality, targeted information, directly answering questions can give your website a boost.
Have you ever noticed the People Also Ask (PAA) section in SERPs? By formatting your content correctly and adding questions and answers to your posts, your page could land in this section.
We put the keyword “tooth brushing” into Google and got served a few content suggestions, followed by a PAA block:
You can use the PAA blocks to perform keyword research and find questions you could be answering in your own content.
You can achieve something similar by including an FAQ section at the bottom of a page.
TIP: You can go back and revive old content by adding Q&As. Hot topics change over time, and it’s never too late to freshen up your posts.
Google E-E-A-T is Not Another Buzzword
With so many pages to choose from, Google is spoiled for choice. The search engine takes pride in its SERPs and favours web pages that meet certain criteria.
While algorithms are used to automatically crawl, serve and index results – there’s still the need for a human touch.
E-E-A-T is the name of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. Thousands of real people check the results in their local area to make sure they meet Google’s strict standards.
Ticking all of the E-E-A-T boxes is possible when you have the right strategies in place. From writing quality content to knowing the “Who, Why, How,” to building backlinks – you can make the algorithms and the humans happy.
It takes a little bit of elbow grease, but you can always ask the team at Gordon Digital for help!
Gordon Digital are SEO experts. We know Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines inside and out, and we can create an SEO strategy that turns your website into an authority powerhouse.
Get in touch with the Gordon Digital team to find out more, or book your strategy session if you’re ready to get started!