Time to say bye-bye to clickbait and hello to honest content? We think yes, and so does the world’s most popular search engine. It’s time to EAT!
The global digital population is a whopping 5 billion internet users, according to Statista’s April 2022 report. In this dense network of billions of web pages, where does your website feature in Google’s search rankings? To improve the quality of search results, Google EAT was born to include expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT) as a part of the ongoing quality rating efforts. This positive move is an opportunity for your web pages to rank better on search results and a way to build brand reputation.
To improve your chances of ranking higher in Google’s search results, let’s discuss:
- What is EAT for SEO?
- The importance of EAT
- What are Google’s EAT guidelines for websites?
- How can you improve your website’s EAT with simple yet critical changes
What is EAT?
EAT is short for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. These terms are ascribed to your main content (MC) quality. At the same time, Google determines whether it is worth the reader’s attention. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features high on any brand’s agenda for increased visibility online. E-A-T in SEO is the turbocharger for your webpage that can help it rank better on Google’s search results.
EAT was first mentioned in the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) for webmasters to know what Google rates as low- and high-quality content.
Google EAT: Ranking hack or reputation builder?
The QRG uses EAT to determine the Page Quality. While some consider it an SEO ranking parameter, EAT is a desirable attribute for improving the reputation of your content with originality and subject matter expertise backed by veritable sources.
Google search aims to look for helpful content, and that’s what your website needs to deliver.
The QRG mentions that “the goal of PQ rating is to determine how well a page achieves its purpose.
Google’s search quality raters use these guidelines to give feedback for search results and rate page content as high quality or low quality. During the process, EAT is a vital aspect of making quality-related decisions. This feedback helps Google’s algorithms churn out queries with relevant, helpful, and trustworthy results. Since EAT attributes cannot be quantified into algorithms, human intervention in the form of quality raters makes the categorization possible.
The importance of EAT
Trustworthy content will always win hands down regardless of the industry, sector, or purpose. EAT builds on the concept that webpages need to be honest with their content, the MC should have verifiable backlinks to trustworthy sites, and the content has to come from experts in the field who have some authority on the topic.
EAT is especially crucial for ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) pages that directly or indirectly affect the reader’s “future happiness, health, financial stability or safety”, as explained by the QRG.
Let’s delve deeper to understand how each of the qualitative adjectives translate to tangible aspects, helping you implement them in your content creation journey.
Expertise refers to a high level of subject matter knowledge. However, it is meant for the content, not the business website.
For YMYL sites like medical or financial advice pages, the SME’s formal education, experience, and qualification matter. For non-YMYL content, the content creator’s everyday experience on the topic may be considered expertise. For example, a pediatrician is qualified to write about child health (YMYL), whereas a dad of 4 kids can have expertise on holiday games for children (non-YMYL).
Authority signifies the reputation of the content creator among peers. For example, WebMD is considered a reliable website for looking up asthma symptoms. Still, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has greater authoritativeness on the topic.
Authority is evaluated when other websites or writers cite your webpage or content, such as Wikipedia. However, authority is a relative idea, and a website or author with authority on, say, finance may not have it for electronics.
Trustworthiness reflects the honesty and transparency of the content publisher. For YMYL topics, the webpage must mention who is responsible for the information. This also includes having sufficient contact information, mainly, but not limited to YMYL sites like financial or medical advice and even online stores, as they encourage a money transaction.
Factual correctness of content and citing trustworthy sources in your content also improve your content’s trustworthiness.
Make the cake and EAT it too: How to improve your EAT
Making sure your business turns up on search queries is essential for your brand’s visibility and reputation, and for it to connect with a larger audience. This is possible by improving your content on or off the website using the EAT guideline.
On the website – Download this checklist as a foundation to know what is EAT in SEO.
- Create links: To reflect EAT in SEO, create links in your content to high-quality references. Moreover, make sure you share relevant resources that can provide more information. For example, a reference to a Forbes article points to higher EAT than a webpage with similar content but with obvious advertorial intent.
- Update content: Stating factually accurate statistics or linking quotes to experts is another way of having trust-building elements throughout your website content.
Pro Tip – Pull down pages that would lower the EAT score, such as old data (unless it is a comparative study) or backlinks where information is unverifiable.
Reviewing, editing, and updating your content regularly helps stay relevant on searches. Also, ensure fewer pages with content less than 200-300 words (thin pages).
- Mention author bio: The QRG specifies that if the author of the content for YMYL sites lacks expertise on the topic, the page should be rated as low quality. Hence, it is crucial to have Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) write for your website. Moreover, having a detailed author bio explaining the expertise ensures that readers get authentic and reliable information.
- Complete the About Us page: As discussed earlier, a complete and informative About Us page reflects transparency and improves the site’s trustworthiness. Moreover, it helps in showcasing authority regarding topics related to your business. Include a ‘Meet the team’ page that reflects the experience and expertise of your team members. Display information about awards and recognitions received by the business or employees. The contact information, including your business’s address and phone number, should always be easily identifiable and accessible on the site.
- Secure your site: Make sure the website is technically clean and secure. HTTPS is now a ranking factor. An unsafe or unsecure site is flagged as low quality by Google’s algorithmic signals.
- Have an on-site review system: An online review system is an effective way to quantify the helpfulness of your content. Moreover, this helps search engines understand the relevance of content and rate it better.
Off the website:
- Off-site reviews: Ensure to have maximum positive reviews off the website, whether Google reviews or other websites. Positive reviews of your business by third parties are a stamp of approval for readers who might want to cross-check the reliability of your claims.
- Industry accreditation: Industry accreditation is crucial for authoritativeness. However, it has to be an ongoing activity. Ensure your profile is updated on top industry accreditation websites like BBB or Trustpilot.
- Publish content on other sites: Ensure your content authors have credibility beyond your own websites. One way is to engage experts who write for reputed web pages. Moreover, encourage your authors to have articles published on relevant topics on 3rd party websites. An excellent example is LinkedIn pulse articles published via the author’s profile.
- Backlinks: Google identifies high authority sources like New York Times as trustworthy seed sites. Backlinks that are linked from such trustworthy sites are also considered reliable. Hence, backlinks become a critical tool to improve EAT.
Frequent audits of backlinks are essential to ensure irrelevant or bad-quality links are rejected
Create quality content with original information. This helps in acquiring links from relevant high authority websites.
Work towards having a Wikipedia page or even a mention as a source. Google Business Profile links are also an excellent place to start.
Over the last few years, Google has been working to improve its search with the help of quality raters and algorithmic signals to deliver results that are helpful and are ranked high for quality using EAT as an important parameter. The recent Helpful Content rollout confirms that search engines will increasingly look at helpfulness, relevance, security and accuracy as key factors to reply to queries. The ball is in your court now.