What E-A-T is and how it directly impacts SEO strategies – WAU
E-A-T stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust”, or expertise, authority and reliability. The concept is part of Google’s quality assessment guidelines, appearing as an (likely) important ranking factor for many sites.
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Although there are still controversies about this ranking factor, optimizing your website based on the concept of E-A-T can already be considered a good SEO practice. That’s because, in the worst case, you’ll be increasing the chances of getting more traffic.
In this article, we’ll talk about what E-A-T is and how it impacts website optimization strategies. We’ll cover tactics to improve this factor on your pages and thus get more visits. Want to understand everything about the subject? So, follow us and enjoy reading!
What has Google been saying about E-A-T?
In February 2019, Google itself confirmed that E-A-T is a very important part of its algorithm. The image below communicates the company’s positioning:
Anyway, let’s look more deeply into the matter. At Google, there is a document called Quality Raters ’Guidelines (QRG), which is full of discussions about Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust (E-A-T). It is a set of SEO practices recommended by the search engine itself.
According to the Google Webmasters blog, the company develops these guidelines to help professionals understand what Google wants to see on a website in terms of quality. In fact, Google professionals encourage everyone to study the material:
But don’t worry: we did it for you and brought the chewed information here. In an interview for the CNBC interview, Google’s vice president of search, Ben Gomes, said:
“You can look at the ranking guidelines as a direction for where we want the search algorithm to go. They don’t say how the algorithm is classifying the results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm is supposed to do. ”
In other words, we can interpret that it is only a matter of time for E-A-T to gain high relevance in Google’s algorithm – and, consequently, in SEO strategies.
What is the impact of E-A-T on YMYL (and what is YMYL)?
According to Google, the first step towards good ranking is to understand the true purpose of the page. This may seem too philosophical, but it is not.
In fact, the purpose of the page is something that can be answered with a very practical question: “How do you intend to help visitors?”. Sites or pages without a clear benefit have the least amount of expertise, authority and reliability, that is, they receive the worst positions.
As a way to protect the user against fraud, apparently, Google values E-A-T even more on sites like Your Money or Your Life (YMYL). These are medical, legal or financial websites.
In other words, YMYL sites are those that advise people to make important decisions. Typically, they also strive to sell products online – so Google keeps an eye on them.
However, no one knows for sure which sites are considered YMYL by Google. So, if you give any kind of guidance or advice to your readers, it is important to keep an eye on E-A-T – especially if you accept credit card transactions.
In summary, what Google says is that sites with medical, legal, financial information, among others, must come from sources considered to be authorities in their areas. Pages should also rely on accurate facts and represent scientific consensus (at least, in areas where there is some consensus).
What are the characteristics of high and low quality pages?
As we have seen so far, Google itself tends to comment on the important factors for ranking. That is, there is no reason to despair, as long as you keep up to date – both if you already have a page and if you want to develop a website and create a blog to produce content.
In addition to everything we’ve said, the world’s largest search engine lists the characteristics of high-quality sites and pages. Have you followed the right guidelines? See below.
High quality page features
According to the Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), the first characteristic of a high quality page is, precisely, a high level of E-A-T. The complete list includes:
- high level of expertise, authority and reliability, including the E-A-T of the editor and / or author of the articles and information contained in the pages;
- a considerable number of high quality core content;
- sufficient information about who is responsible for the website or sufficient information about customer service, if the primary purchase page includes financial transactions;
- positive reputation of the site that is responsible for the main content of the page.
Low quality page characteristics
Among the characteristics of the pages that tend to have a low ranking, are:
- inadequate level of E-A-T;
- low quality of the main content;
- insufficient information in the main content about the purpose of the page;
- the title of the main content is exaggerated or shocking;
- ads that distract the reader from the content;
- lack of sufficient information about the creator of the content (anonymity is not favored by Google);
- reasonably negative reputation of the website or content creator.
If a page has several of the above characteristics, it is very likely that it will receive a poor ranking.
How important is the E-A-T of the author of the texts?
There are two types of E-A-T: O E-A-T of every site (or any brand) and, if applicable, the Authors’ E-A-T site content. Both are very important!
In fact, Google says that a page should be considered of low quality if the author of it or website does not have enough knowledge for the topic. That is, there is a difference between a finance article written by an economist and another article written by a professional copywriter.
Here on the Websites Are Us blog, for example, we have several articles written by the company’s own partners. You can read, for example, the posts of Vitor Peçanha, co-founder of WAU.
As much as the writer is excellent in Content Marketing, there is no guarantee that he really knows what he is talking about. This assessment encourages ghost writing. After all, in that case, the site can count on someone to help write the content, but the final word will be from the specialist.
Basically, what Google seeks to do is replicate on the internet what already happens offline. If you are looking for tax advice, would you rather read an article written by someone with a degree in Journalism? Or do you choose someone who has been an accountant for decades and is known as an authority in this field?
Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with a disease, would you like to read articles about your condition written by an SEO expert? Or do you prefer content created by a doctor who has been treating this condition for years?
In other words, most people want to read articles written by people with E-A-T: expertise, authority and reliability.
It is important to note that this does not diminish the importance of editors. On the contrary: it makes them become more and more specialized, at the same time that they have the endorsement of specialists on the subject.
How do algorithms measure E-A-T?
Although Google does not disclose details about how the algorithms work, there are some aspects that are probably part of the equation. Here’s what they are.
Mentions about the author
Yes, again, the author’s E-A-T appears as a criterion for the page’s E-A-T as a whole. Google implemented a major algorithm update on February 7, 2017. This was the searcher’s first attempt to determine which sites have good E-A-T.
From that day on, several sites lost positions to others that had more recognized authors. An author’s authority can be measured in several ways, such as backlinks from trusted sources pointing to their content and mentions as an expert on the subject matter.
In general, the author is seen as an authority when, when searching for him on Google, you find information that proves that he consistently acts in the area about which he writes. Therefore, the search engine favors experienced and reputable professionals.
Detail: Google believes that it can determine which mentions are spontaneous and which ones are paid (that is, “artificially manufactured”). There is a big difference between a mention of a Folha de São Paulo employee, for example, and a reputable journalist from Folha.
Google does not want to be held responsible for pointing out harmful content to users. So, as we saw earlier, it is important to base your content on scientific evidence and information that is consensus in the area. This is especially true for YMYL sites.
Serious companies committed to what they do tend to be in business for the long term. For this reason, they revise their contents, correcting errors and updating information to bring the best to your users.
Google also takes this into account. Anyway, it is not enough to update a content just to have a more current date. The quality and veracity of what is written is what should determine the frequency of updates.
It’s a little difficult to say for sure how Google assesses a company’s reputation. However, no one has any doubt that the internet giant has access to countless information and intelligence to do this.
Basically, everything is taken into account, from brand mentions in trusted press outlets to customer comments on social media.
How to improve E-A-T?
So far, we’ve learned that E-A-T is an important part of Google’s algorithms. A website without expertise, authority and reliability is much less likely to achieve a good ranking.
The good news is that authority is something that can be built. In other words, you don’t have to be a content giant to conquer the first page of searches. Just knowing how to continuously optimize the right points.
Now see ways to improve E-A-T by following Google’s own tips.
Ensure good reviews
What the people talk on the internet about your business really matter. Google assumes that good companies will have positive reviews from a variety of sources, such as real customers, industry experts and media outlets.
If you market products, reviews of marketplaces and shopping sites are very important. In any case, social media reviews are also of great importance.
Generally speaking, what Google tries to do is determine the general public sentiment towards your business. So, rest assured about the exceptions. Any brand receives one or another negative review from a customer who was stressed on a certain day. The most important thing is to look at the average of the opinions.
Now, if most people are complaining about your brand, product or service, it is essential to invest energy to improve consumer satisfaction. As you can see, SEO and customer success go hand in hand.
In addition, there are some issues that can serve as a wake-up call for your assessments:
- Do your competitors have significantly more comments online? If so, this could be a sign that competition is more recognized as an authority;
- do other companies have a much higher number of positive reviews than you do? Try to find out if this occurs;
- is the overall feeling of your brand ratings negative?
Get mentions on Wikipedia (or have your own page)
Wikipedia is often mentioned in Google’s QRG, making it clear that the search engine recognizes it as a reliable site. This goes against what was believed until then, since SEO experts used to say that Wikipedia links did not matter (as they are nofollowed links and do not pass through PageRank).
However, it appears that Google does measure nofollowed links and linkless mentions when they come from sites with high authority. Interesting, right?
Having your own Wikipedia page is not easy, but it is possible. To do this, you need to follow Wikipedia standards, which include as main points:
- all information about your company must be verifiable;
- the brand must have received significant coverage from trusted sources.
As you can see, Wikipedia’s criteria are very similar to E-A-T, right? That is why it is difficult to pretend authority. Having a Wikipedia page can help improve your perceived authority, but you cannot get a Wikipedia page unless you are already seen as an authority.
Either way, there is an alternative: getting positive mentions of your company on other Wikipedia pages. In some areas, you can edit articles there to mention your company.
But be careful: this must be done with extreme care and common sense. If the Wikipedia community realizes that you are promoting yourself, your link will be removed quickly.
Get mentions from sites with high authority
This is probably the most important aspect of E-A-T. In the acronym, the letter “A” means “authority”. On the internet, the most common way to gain authority is to be mentioned by trusted sources, such as news outlets and major content portals.
As we mentioned, Google has an increasing ability to determine which mentions on the web are really reliable. So, it is important to be aware.
If a link or a mention is too easy to obtain, the tendency is that it does not help much. Here, fit links you paid for or, in some way, encouraged the site owner to talk about your company.
The same goes for cases where you have provided content. This does not detract from the validity of guest posts, but undoubtedly, a mention in such an article has less weight than a spontaneous quote from an expert.
Good mentions on sites with high authority are often difficult to achieve. However, if you want to be known as an authority, it is vitally important that you find ways to obtain them. Some ideas to be mentioned on important websites are:
- publish an original research;
- summarize current scientific research;
- networking with journalists through social media;
- create offline connections with people who are recognized as authorities in your area.
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Get mentions in forums
If people are really excited about your brand, the tendency is for them to quote you on internet forums. For one, it may seem unlikely that mentions in forums will help your SEO. After all, this is something that could be easily forged. However, it is not us, but Google itself, who says:
However, make no mistake: Google knows how to determine which mentions are worth contributing to E-A-T and which are not. Just by looking at a forum or even Yahoo Answers, you should be able to easily understand if a conversation is real or if it is artificially generated by a marketer.
And why does Google analyze information in forums? Simple: as much as sites like TripAdvisor and Wikipedia are useful, often the most useful information comes from users in informal discussions.
Again, don’t see this tip as an indication for spreading spam out there. The most important thing is to monitor brand mentions on the internet to see how your image is doing. From there, you can implement improvements in your positioning so that people can talk more about your products or services.
One of Google’s updates that has a bearing on E-A-T was Medic, which took place in August 2018. Since then, the search giant has come to quote the word “safety”:
Many of the sites that fell on Google searches after this update had reliability issues, such as:
- high amount of negative comments online;
- customers who complained about not getting a refund;
- medical articles without scientific references or that made statements contradicting the current scientific consensus.
Show E-A-T on your website
As Google says, E-A-T is determined mainly through links and mentions outside the site. However, this does not exclude the importance of optimizing E-A-T on your own website.
One of the ways to work on this point is show how your company strives to be more reliable and expert in what it does, as well as the information you present to the public.
In this article, we talk a lot about E-A-T, which is part of Google’s algorithm. Finally, so that you can go further in your SEO strategy, it is important to understand how search engines evaluate and rank content in relation to the most different criteria.
So, enjoy and read the Google algorithm article: understand how it works and learn how to rank in 2019!