The Helpful Content Update Google released last year made many SEO professionals flip the way they build content. The main concept is quite simple – if you write on a subject, you need to make sure it is helpful and useful for the reader.
However, this is not a new concept at all. If an article has the sole purpose of ranking for the right keywords and brings no extra value, it doesn’t really stand a chance. Unless it comes from experience, of course, which is the reason Google added the extra “E” to their E-A-T update!
Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness have been ranking factors ever since Google launched the E-A-T search algorithm update back in March 2014. This guideline was created to target especially Your-Money-or-Your-Life (YMYL) content, as if not based on real knowledge and subject matter authority, it could be harmful to users.
Ever since then, marketers have tried to stay away from black-hat SEO practices like paying for links, keyword staffing and writing content just to get it higher in SERPs. But more on this later. Now, if you need some help with the SEO content marketing strategy and maintenance of your website, the best thing to do is partner up with a professional WordPress agency to help you out.
In this article, we will explain what the E-A-T update is, and how Google quality raters used to decide which websites to rank better than others before the change. Also, we will outline the differences between expertise and experience (the E-A-T and the “double E-A-T”) and suggest a few actionable steps to optimize for the new update. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
The E-A-T Update: Key Characteristics
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is a concept that was introduced by Google as a guideline for assessing the quality and credibility of web content. E-A-T plays a crucial role in determining the search engine ranking and visibility of websites.
Let’s break down the components of E-A-T:
Expertise. This refers to the knowledge, skills, and expertise of the individuals or organizations behind the content. Google assesses the level of expertise by considering the qualifications, credentials, experience, and reputation of the content creators. Demonstrating expertise helps establish credibility and boosts the overall trustworthiness of the content.
Authoritativeness. Authoritativeness refers to the reputation and authority of the content source. Google looks for signals that indicate the website or author is recognized as a reputable and reliable source of information within their respective field. Factors that contribute to authoritativeness include backlinks from other authoritative sites, citations, and mentions by industry experts or reputable organizations.
Trustworthiness. Trustworthiness is a vital aspect of E-A-T. It relates to the reliability and integrity of the content and the website as a whole. Trustworthy websites have accurate and up-to-date information, maintain transparency, and provide sources and references to back up their claims. They also have a strong reputation for delivering reliable information and protecting user privacy and security.
It’s important to note that E-A-T is particularly relevant for websites that offer information related to health, finance, legal matters, and other subjects where accuracy and trustworthiness are critical (YMYL content). While E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, it influences how Google’s algorithms assess and prioritize high-quality sources.
To improve E-A-T for a website, it’s essential to focus on creating high-quality, accurate, and authoritative content. This involves ensuring that the authors or creators have the necessary expertise and credentials, building backlinks from reputable sources, and establishing a strong reputation within the industry. Additionally, maintaining transparency, providing reliable references, and regularly updating content are essential for building trust with users and search engines.
How Was It Before E-A-T?
Before the introduction of the E-A-T concept, Google’s search algorithm primarily relied on factors like keyword relevance, backlinks, and on-page optimization to determine search rankings. While these factors still hold significance today, the E-A-T framework brought a stronger emphasis on quality and credibility of content.
Prior to E-A-T, there were challenges in assessing the trustworthiness and expertise of web content. Search engines relied heavily on technical factors and signals like keyword density and backlink quantity to determine relevance and authority. This led to the emergence of tactics like keyword stuffing and manipulative link building, which could artificially inflate a website’s rankings without necessarily reflecting its actual quality or credibility.
The introduction of E-A-T marked a shift towards evaluating the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of content and its creators. Google recognized the importance of ensuring that search results provided accurate and reliable information, particularly in areas where misinformation and low quality could have serious consequences, such as health or financial advice.
E-A-T brought more focus on factors like the reputation and qualifications of authors, citations from reputable sources, user feedback and reviews, and the overall trustworthiness of websites. Content creators and website owners were encouraged to provide clear indications of their expertise and credentials, cite trustworthy sources, and establish a strong reputation in their respective fields.
The E-A-T framework aimed to reward websites that demonstrated expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, while penalizing those that produced low-quality, unreliable, or misleading content. It also encouraged a higher standard of content creation and maintenance, as websites had to invest in ensuring accuracy, transparency, and a positive user experience to improve their E-A-T scores.
E-E-A-T vs. E-A-T: What’s the Difference?
The main difference that came with the extra letter is the exceeded focus on personal experience within content. This is no surprise as it followed the helpful content update which is all about content that is useful for people and comes from a trustworthy source. Another key algorithm change that also preceded E-E-A-T is the link spam update that rules out links that seem to have been “obtained primarily for artificial manipulation of Search rankings”.
Most marketers had already appropriated the idea of relying on in-depth research to produce useful, relevant content even before the change. However, would ordinary people really get that ‘helpfulness’ they seek, as if they asked a peer about something they have been through and know inside and out?
Here comes the difference between experience and expertise. A content creator can demonstrate expertise on a topic by doing proper research on it and hone in the necessary skills to write or create a design on that topic. They can showcase their knowledge with high relevance and quality to help solve user problems, educate, inform, entertain.
However, website owners and marketers who strive to meet the extended E-E-A-T guideline should go the extra mile and communicate real-time, first-hand, personal experience with the subject they cover. For example, if you mention a product in your article, use it and express your impression so people can trust your recommendations and make an informed decision.
Anyone can do research on the Internet and then write a decent article. AI developments are becoming better and better, ChatGPT made an absolute scandal when it was released last November and it is likely setting a standard that shows no signs of diminishing any time soon.
So, in order to comply with E-E-A-T, work with subject matter experts (SMEs), unless you are one yourself, and aim to be a thought leader, not just a content creator that has done their homework. Strive for originality, helpfulness based first-hand, genuine experience.
Although these concepts of E-E-A-T are not new at all, they are focused on better noting the nuances in how people search and how they find the information they are looking for. Same goes with expressing authority and showing Google that high-value sources refer to you.
To achieve this, focus on guest posting, create shareable assets. Instead of using stock images, build original infographics, eBooks, whitepapers and videos. Also, make sure you replace broken links online. They not only bring no value to the user that just sees a 404 error page, but are also a signal to search engines that your content is not reliable. In addition, write online reviews for reputable products, and collaborate with other authority players within your field.
Trust has always been a pillar in terms of SEO and quality content. Although experience is the new kid in town, according to Google, it remains the main factor you should focus on with your marketing efforts.
So, include links to reputable sources within your content, bet on real customer reviews, and make sure you demonstrate your experience time and time again.
As you can see, the E-E-A-T is not a new concept at all. Rather, it underscores the importance of real, first-hand experience in web content that people can trust and rely on. So, go and have a blast with exploring products yourself, seek help from subject matter experts, and stick close to SEO best practices!
Author Bio: Mariela Kashukeeva is an Outreach & Content Specialist at DevriX. With over 5-year experience in SEO, she is responsible for establishing collaboration opportunities with high-authority websites and creating amazing content.