We'll never learn the exact secret recipe that Google's algorithm uses to rank websites. But the search engine monolith does provide tips on ways we can improve our content and the chances of ranking well. One of the most important factors that shape our rankings is how high our E-A-T is.
E-A-T refers to "expertise, authority and trust." Google's search quality raters use this concept to provide manual feedback on Google's algorithm and improve search results.
Search quality raters are real people who work within Google's guidelines, a manual with over 160 pages. These guidelines show raters how to evaluate search results and to assess whether they fit the user's needs well.
Google carries out 77,000 searches per second, taking E-A-T into account to provide the best results. However, there's no consensus that working on expertise, authority and trust will guarantee an improvement in your website's ranking. What's certain is that not improving your website's E-A-T will ensure that it doesn't appear as a top result.
So, let's break down what this concept is in an easy-to-understand way and how you can increase your website's own expertise, authority and trust online. You'll be able to signal to search engines that your website can be trusted and improve your chances of ranking for specific keywords.
E-A-T in greater depth
According to Google's guidelines, the most significant aspect of any webpage is the purpose of that page. A website or page must provide value and have some purpose or reason for its existence. It can be to help users by providing information, selling a product for users to buy or something else.
Another important aspect is how well a page meets the expertise, authority and trust necessary to ensure that this website is the best result for a user.
The quality of information from a website depends on the expertise of the person or organization that created it. This is especially important in matters relating to health, finance and other aspects where a person's wellbeing is at play.
For example, content on illnesses and treatments must come from a qualified medical professional or body. But a medical professional isn't necessarily an expert on beekeeping or baking sourdough bread. A verified beekeeper and a stay-at-home mom with significant baking experience are considered experts in these cases respectively.
Google prefers content from brands and authors who are experts with regard to the content. You need to showcase expertise for your blog posts and other content to be taken seriously.
Certain content needs to come from authoritative sources. For example, Google will prioritize content about the current pandemic from government-level sources. If you're selling authentic spare parts for branded vehicles, you need to show that you have the authority to do so, especially when it's something that can affect a person's life.
The final piece of the E-A-T puzzle is trust. Search quality raters have to do their research and ensure that a search result comes from a reliable company or individual. They must take any news or information about unethical behavior, illegal activities, or other issues into consideration. Similarly, positive news about a company, testimonials and good reviews all matter in establishing a business's trustworthiness.
How to build E-A-T and boost your SEO
Expertise, authority and trust are not separate elements to prove. When you prove your authority, you automatically build your case for trustworthiness and expertise. By enhancing your credibility online, you send positive E-A-T signals that Google's algorithm might pick up. Here are ways to practically boost your E-A-T.
1. Create verified local business listings.
Adding your business to local business listings makes you easy to find in local searches. Google My Business listings add particular authenticity, because you need to verify that your business is real to have a listing. Search quality raters often check whether a business exists on listings and maps. Their stamp of authenticity improves your business's veracity.
2. Join associations and trade organizations.
If you belong to a trade association or some kind of authoritative body, showcasing this is helpful. Such associations often verify their members and offer a strong peer-to-peer network. Being part of such a group can bolster your online reputation.
3. Update and refresh your content.
A legitimate website offers fresh and updated content on a regular basis. Updated content is especially important in areas such as medicine and finance.
Have you ever come across a blog or a website and found that its last post was several years ago? This lack of updates and information probably made you think the business was dead. Many people are put off when a blog hasn't been updated for even a few months.
Fresh and updated content is known to improve SEO rankings for websites. So, make sure to keep updating social media, blogs and main site content.
4. Build your backlinks from authoritative sources.
When recognized and authoritative websites mention your business online and link to you, it immediately sends a positive signal to your audience and to search engines. Try to collaborate, guest post, or create PR in an ethical manner to get backlinks from good publications.
5. Develop a positive online reputation.
Encourage your audience to post reviews of your business on various platforms. You can send a follow-up email after a purchase asking your customer about their experience. If they have a positive response, then ask them to leave a review. If not, ask how you can make their experience better.
It's important to have reviews across different platforms and in places relevant to your industry. A business in the travel industry would want good reviews on Tripadvisor, while a college professor would benefit from good reviews on Rate My Professors. Getting a product review featured on industry-level publications and by thought leaders will also help.
Other ways to boost your credibility
Here are a few more ways to improve your credibility and trust online:
- Showcase any certifications, professional degrees and other credentials as badges on your website.
- Add schema markup to your site for awards and credentials.
- Create an informative About Us page and Contact Us page. Include your location, email and other contact information, especially when your business deals with products. Users must be able to contact you in case of payment issues, refunds and other product-related matters.
- Display testimonials, case studies and other relevant information on your site.
Bottom line on E-A-T
Google takes context into consideration. If you're a small or new company or an individual, you can still have high E-A-T. A hobbyist who has a great crafting blog does not need to show that they have a diploma or industry experience. But it is important to create detailed and helpful content that you update regularly. Small businesses and individuals can also make authority statements to validate their business.
In the end, you need to think about what your customers need. What would make them feel more secure in interactions with you?
It's important to provide information and create content that you're qualified to share. If you're not an expert or an authority on a given subject, work with other experts and collaborate to create valuable content.
We've shown you what E-A-T is all about and how it impacts SEO. A lot more goes into successful search engine optimization, but if you use the suggestions here, you'll certainly make your business appear more credible online.