E-A-T stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness”
If you want to rank higher in search engine results you have to be careful what you EAT. EATing too much of the wrong thing will be bad for you. The right diet for your website need not be complicated and with a little help your search results will be much more fulfilling than any SEO junk food you may be tempted to try.
Google’s 160 page Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines spells out your website’s ‘to do list’ to create higher-ranking content.
- It discusses how links and RankBrain impact search results and that content is in the top three page quality factors it considers.
- It also states showing a high level of expertise, authoritativenessand trustworthiness (E-A-T) is one of the most important characteristics of high quality content.
Human beings, not just search engines, are interested in your website. Publishing high quality content also helps establish stronger connections with your audience. Those reading your content may learn to trust the information and insight you provide, return again and again, suggest friends check your website out and post your webpages on social media. Google’s guidelines stress the importance of building trust with your audience over lighting up the search algorithms.
Implementing E-A-T will help you climb up the search engine results. This is how you can do it…
What is “E-A-T”?
E-A-T stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.”
It’s the metric by which Google’s evaluators rank pages. Google doesn’t just do its job by software and algorithms. It employs thousands of people to evaluate the quality of search engine results. Their guidelines tell evaluators what to look for. It also provides insight into how Google searches work and what you can do to improve your website’s search results.
High quality pages have a high level of E-A-T while low quality pages don’t. How can you master E-A-T? Keep it in mind when building content on a webpage or website.
“Expertise” – You need to demonstrate expertise in your field. You have appropriate credentials (college degree, job experience, etc.) and mention it in your content. Expertise is less important for humor or gossip websites, but it’s vital for medical, financial or legal websites. You don’t need to be a CEO, PhD or attorney to be able to show expertise. Expertise can also be demonstrated if the content is truthful and useful.
“Authoritativeness” – Show you’re an authority. This can come from the expertise of your writers. If your page is a community or forum discussion, the quality of the conversation drives authority. Credentials are important, but so are reviews.
“Trustworthiness” – Show users your pages deserve their trust. This is especially important for ecommerce websites seeking personal and credit card information. Your website should make users feel safe because they’re visiting a secure website. Your website is secure, isn’t it?
Is E-A-T Important for Your Website?
E-A-T determines your website’s value. Quality raters focus on E-A-T when deciding how well a site or page provides what users need. Are they getting a good online experience? Does the content meet their standards? If a rater feels a user would feel comfortable reading, sharing and recommending the content, E-A-T will rank higher.
Consider E-A-T the reason why users choose your site over your competitor’s website. It may directly impact how Google perceives and ultimately ranks your website which could be the difference between slumping sales or record results.
You Are What You E-A-T
What you get out of your website is only as good as what you put into it. E-A-T’s considered for individual pages and your website as a whole so you need to do your best to make sure each part of your website meets Google’s requirements. If your pages qualify as YMYL pages (Your Money Or Your Life), this is even more important (see below).
Google states low E-A-T for a page is a “sufficient reason to give a page a low quality rating.” So, if you aren’t an expert, an authority, or trustworthy, your website or individual page could be considered low quality and suffer in search engine results.
To get the best E-A-T you need to create engaging, useful and truthful content. Approach your content with E-A-T in mind so you can meet the needs of Google’s quality raters and the potential customers using your website. If you can do that, you’ll be helping your search results and better connect with your website’s users.
How is E-A-T Measured?
Look at your website as if you’ve never seen it before. What’s your honest impression?
Do you have high quality content?
More isn’t necessarily better. Do the pages do a good job at answering the user’s query in the most complete manner? If so it should get higher quality ratings.
You should be an expert in your field either through your education, experience or both. Provide your credentials and create content that speaks to your expertise without using too much lingo or writing over the reader’s head.
When raters look at the quality of the content they consider,
- Is the content is accurate?
- If your page has calculators, videos or pictures, do they function correctly?
- If a page is for purchasing products does it show these products and if you add something to the shopping cart, does it work?
All these little things add up.
Do you make it clear who’s responsible for the website and how to contact you?
It’s important website users can clearly see information about your identity and how to reach you. Is your address shown? What’s your phone number and email address? This information helps build trust which is part of determining quality. If an information source is anonymous would you trust it?
Does your website have a good reputation?
Do a search for your business or website name. Are there articles with negative opinions or unflattering facts? Are your reviews mostly negative? If so, your rating will be impacted. While a negative review or two shouldn’t be a big deal, the problem arises if there are a number of bad reviews and most of the coverage about your brand is negative.
The Importance of Expertise
E-A-T considerations have a direct impact on a page’s quality and reputation. To be high quality, Google states that “websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic.” What’s considered “expert” can vary depending on a page’s type and purpose. For example,
- Medical advice should be written by an accredited doctor,
- General information on a medical support forum can be “expert” even if it’s been written by a layperson.
Some topics require lesser levels of expertise. For these types of pages Google’s looking for how helpful, detailed and useful the information is. Examples are,
- Product and restaurant reviews,
- Fashion sites,
- Gossip sites, and,
- Humor sites.
There are many different kinds of “everyday expertise” and evaluators shouldn’t penalize a website for not having sources with “formal” training in a given field if the field doesn’t necessarily warrant it.
To get a high quality rating for your online content that either asks readers for their money or covers some important aspect of their life you need to consider several things. Google sees YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages as those that are important enough that, if they were of low quality, could negatively impact a person’s life, income or happiness. Generally Google requires these pages to be written by experts. Here are examples of YMYL pages,
- Those with shopping or financial transactions,
- Financial, investment or tax information,
- Medical information about specific diseases, conditions or mental health,
- Legal information on topics like child support, divorce, creating a will, immigration, etc., and,
- Danger could arise if there are low E-A-T levels (car and home repairs).
These pages have very high page quality standards. This is Google’s effort to protect users from low quality, but complex, content that doesn’t have sufficient levels of E-A-T.
Pinching Pennies When Paying Writers Could Cost You Dollars
How E-A-T levels and YMYL pages are rated are the most important takeaways from the Google quality guidelines. They show Google’s increased focus on the need for expert writers. While not all content writers need technical training or accreditation, all content needs to possess a high level of E-A-T to be judged favorably by Google.
With Google placing emphasis on high quality, authoritative, expert, trust worthy content, marketers need to invest in forming a team of qualified, quality writers. While the guidelines don’t give a precise recipe for what’s needed for a top ranking page, E-A-T and the importance of Y-M-Y-L pages makes it clear that, now more than ever, expert writing matters.
It’s just common sense that Google takes this approach. They make money by selling ads on search result pages. If they don’t provide the highest quality content in their searches users may turn to other search engines and it would be harder to justify Google’s advertising rates. If you can provide the right content in a way that meets Google’s guidelines both you and Google come out ahead.
Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A.
President and Managing Partner
Ed can be reached at