Unless you’re new to the research industry, you’ve probably heard of E-A-T. Although the concept has been around since 2014, it has gradually become one of the most important elements of SEO.
Unfortunately, it is also one of the most confusing, even for industry experts.
So what is E-A-T SEO? Read on to find out exactly what it is, why it matters, and how it affects your SEO efforts.
What is E‑A-T?
E-A-T- stands for experience, authority, and reliability. It comes from the Google Guidelines for Search Quality Raters, a 168-page document used by human quality raters to assess the quality of Google search results.
Google published this document online in 2013 to “help webmasters understand what Google is looking for on a web page.”
How important is E‑A-T?
Google understands that a person can make a life-changing decision based on what they read online. Therefore, a bad source of information in Google search results can have consequences in the real world.
If your web pages or content fall into any of these YMYL categories, you should exercise caution. Make it clear that it was written by people with adequate credibility.
The greater your ability to follow and apply E-A-T standards to your content, the better your chances of organic search engine visibility and ranking success.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor?
In the sense of measurable metrics, E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor from Google. However, there are other signals that Google uses to determine experience, authority, and trust that are ranking factors.
In February 2019, Google published an article, “How Google fights misinformation,” which establishes the importance of E-A-T in its rankings. Additionally, Google references “E-A-T” 137 times in the current version of its Search Quality Reviewer Guidelines. It is clearly an important concept.
However, there is no single metric to measure a Google E-A-T score. Instead, it assesses other measurable factors that indicate the quality of authors, web pages, websites, and brands.
The comprehensive process works as follows. The search quality evaluators measure and rate the quality of the site, and the comments are used to inform the Google algorithm. Also, Google’s algorithm can clearly measure signals that are correlated with E-A-T (for example, backlinks).
How is EAT evaluated?
Now that we’ve answered the question What is E-A-T ?, let’s talk about how Google determines the E-A-T of a page. There are basically three main components listed in Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines:
- The experience of the creator of Main Content.
- The authority of the creator of the Main Content, the Main Content itself and the website.
- The reliability of the creator of the Main Content, the Main Content itself and the website.
Ensuring accurate, truthful, useful information:
Basically, E-A-T is a way that Google uses to ensure that accurate, truthful and useful information is returned to users. Anyone can create a website and post whatever they want on it. You don’t have to be a doctor to start a medical information site or have a finance degree to write about investing.
Of course, in a sense, this is a good thing. However, it is also a problem for Google. People make important decisions based on what they learn from the survey results. Therefore, Google aims to ensure that these decisions are based on the most reliable information possible.
Therefore, Google considers the experience, authority, and trustworthiness of the individual creator of the content on the page, the content itself, and the entire site. In the eyes of Google, a comprehensive medical article written by an experienced physician on the Mayo Clinic website is far more valuable than a random blog post distributing unverified medical advice.
Is E‑A-T a ranking factor?
See, for something to be a “ranking factor,” it must be something tangible that a computer can understand and evaluate.
Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the number of backlinks to a page.
Google crawls the web everywhere to see how many backlinks are pointing to the most pages. They can easily create a computer program that will rank the pages with the highest quality backlinks.
The problem with experience, authority, and trust is that while they are desirable qualities of content, they are fundamentally human concepts. You can’t tell a computer to rate E-A-T pages higher because it only comprises bits and bytes.
Here is Google’s solution to this problem:
First, your search engineers think of algorithm adjustments that can improve the quality of your search results.
Second, they show the survey results to the quality assessors with and without the proposed change in place. Your job is to provide feedback to Google, and you don’t tell them what set of results.
Third, Google uses feedback to decide whether the proposed adjustment had a positive or negative impact on search results. If the results are positive, the change is implemented.
With this process, Google engineers can understand the tangible signals that align with E-A-T and adjust the ranking algorithms accordingly.
Google explains more about this process here and in this video:
E-A-T is important for SEO and is something you should be working on to improve, especially if it covers YMYL topics.
Doing this is a two-part process.
- Be legit. Hire experts. Worry about your customers. Create real company stuff. Have values.
- Work to demonstrate your expertise and values to Google.
It sounds simple, and it is; it just takes some time and effort.
If this sounds irritating, remember that Google doesn’t owe you a living. Having a website doesn’t necessarily mean it deserves a ranking. If there is better and more credible content or competitors with better products or services, Google will, with good reason, try to drive traffic to them, not yours.
In addition to potentially unwanted and condescending moral guidance, it’s also important to note that Google changes its Rating Guidelines frequently, so the E-A-T criteria are likely to change and evolve over time.