Links used to be the star of the show when it came to boosting your Domain Authority (DA). Now, however, Google carefully evaluates sites using its Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness metrics, which are collectively referred to as E-A-T.
It would be misleading to suggest that E-A-T is an entirely new concept. In fact, it has been part of the Google Quality Rater Guidelines for many years at this point, however, the latest edition of those guidelines state that E-A-T has become a much more integral ranking factor than it ever has been before.
Notably, when Google released its “How Search Algorithms Work” report, it reiterated its desire for the most reliable sources to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). Additionally, in the same paragraph, the report highlights that E-A-T is an important ranking factor.
So, with all this in mind, let’s explore in more detail how you can increase the E-A-T of your site.
If you are in the habit of hiring freelancers to create your on-site content without checking their credentials, you might start running into a few issues. You see, Google actively wants to highlight content that has been written by those who are genuine experts within their field.
It is worth mentioning the 2018 “Medic Update” here, which was the algorithmic update that first highlighted the value of optimising for E-A-T. In SEO terms, 2018 was a very long time ago but we’re still talking about this today, in 2021, because E-A-T remains integral to ranking well in SERPs. Let’s not forget, the days of being able to appear in SERPs as if by magic overnight are nothing but a very distant memory.
This update is known as the “Medic Update” because it hit all websites that fall under the “YMYL sites” including those in the medical field.
What is YMYL?
We’ll know by now that Google loves an acronym and this particular one stands for “Your Money or Your Life.” In short, YMYL emphasises the fact that Google doesn’t solely care about delivering the most relevant information for all search queries, it also wants to deliver accurate information.
Let’s not forget that many searches present the potential to significantly affect a person’s wealth, health or happiness in a negative way. Google wants to mitigate its role in this by determining whether a user’s wellbeing would be negatively impacted by low-quality webpages it displayed.
YMYL topics include:
- Government and law
- Current events and news
- Health and Safety
Google has even gone so far as to specify that all medical content should be written specifically by those with relevant medical expertise and/or accreditation. This is extremely difficult information to falsify and serves to highlight the measures that Google is willing to implement to avoid serving links that could be detrimental in any way.
So, if you’re not an expert: hire one! Just make sure to do your research so you don’t get caught out.
Being an expert within your field really is only the first step. When other influencers or experts within the same niche as you are consistently citing and linking to your content, you will level up from expert to authority.
When evaluating how authoritative your site is, there are several key performance indicators (KPIs) you can look at, including:
- Links from other authoritative, relevant sites
- Securing mentions on authoritative or news sites
- Your trust ratio score
- Whether your content is frequently being shared on social media
If you aren’t seen as a trustworthy brand, you’re going to struggle to rank well in SERPs regardless of your authoritativeness or level of expertise. If you notice any negativity surrounding your brand, you need to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Let’s not forget, you should be providing your audience with a positive experience and when things go wrong, you need to be seen to go above and beyond to make things right.
Google specifically notes that a large number of bad reviews will be viewed as a sign of low quality. Conversely, securing significant numbers of positive reviews on sites such as Facebook, Trustpilot, and Google My Business, are going to give your site a boost in SERPs.
There are several other ways in which you can promote levels of trustworthiness people have in your business, including:
- Clearly displaying your contact information online, including an address for your office or store
- Ensuring that your website uses HTTPS and is fully secure
- Creating an up-to-date author biography when sharing knowledge
- Ensuring that informational content contains external links to authoritative sources
What is Beneficial Purpose?
In 2018, Google made its first reference to a concept that it refers to as “beneficial purpose.” In short, a web page should be created specifically to help users. This means that each page needs to successfully fulfil the purpose that was anticipated when it was created and adopt a user-centred ethos. Pages with “beneficial purpose” are myriad and include those that:
- Express a point of view
- Share information about a specific subject
- Sell services and/or products
- Entertain an intended audience
So, on the flip side, we can see how webpages that are created simply to make money without making any attempt to help users will be viewed as low quality.
How Following the E-A-T Framework Will Benefit Your Digital Marketing
By adopting a holistic approach to your optimisation strategy, you will place yourself in the best possible position to nurture your online presence in ways that the Google search algorithm actively favours. You’ve probably already heard that there aren’t any quick wins in SEO and the search landscape is constantly changing, but by consistently optimising with E-A-T in mind, you will incrementally strengthen and grow your brand.
Oh, and the extra good news is that once you’ve got your E-A-T strategy right and your scores are solid, it’ll be more difficult for competitor sites to come and knock you off the top ranking spots.