With every algorithm update, Google focuses on Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trust (E-E-A-T). But why should we care about E-E-A-T? Could Google just be paying lip service to these concepts?
With a decade’s experience in creating and ranking websites, I used to believe this might be true. However, my perspective changed with the latest updates, especially the “Helpful Content Update” (HCU).
Now, ample evidence shows that Google is pushing websites lacking E-E-A-T down the search results.
To try and understand why that is, I’ve taken a deep dive into Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Google provides this 168-page PDF to its human search raters, who manually inspect a website and assign a quality score.In this guide, I’ll share insights from Google’s guide to help increase your website’s E-E-A-T. There’s also a super-easy ChatGPT prompt that uses the guidelines to make suggestions for improving any page.
How Google Defines “Expertise” and “Authority”
Here’s how Google directs its search raters to evaluate expertise and authority in online content.
Evaluate the creator’s knowledge or skill in the topic. Trustworthy advice varies by topic, such as preferring electrical advice from a skilled electrician over an enthusiast without electrical knowledge.
Gauge if the creator or site is a go-to source for the topic. The most reliable sources are often official or authoritative, like a local business' social media for current sales or a government page for passport renewal.
Google has also published some self-assessment questions for content creators on its help page for Creating Helpful Content.
- Is the content credible, shown by clear sources and author expertise, with links to an “About” and author pages?
- Would someone researching the site find that it’s an authority on the topic?
- Is the content written or reviewed by an expert who knows the topic well?
- Does the content have any obvious factual errors?
How Google Defines “Experience”
Google added “Experience” to the original E-A-T algorithm in December 2022.
Its updated guidelines include the following question to check the level of trustworthiness:
“Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced?”
The two examples Google gives — product reviews and travel blogs — are areas where people have been “faking it until they make it.”
Now, there is (quite rightly) a shift towards replacing stock photos with custom images showing the author at the place or using the product.
How Google Defines “Trust”
If there’s one element of E-E-A-T that Google cares about the most, it’s trust. In its latest version of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google states:
“Trust is the most important member of the E-E-A-T family because untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how Experienced, Expert, or Authoritative they may seem.”The concepts of E-E-A overlap to give an overall feeling of trust, as Google shows in the diagram below.
6 Ways To Improve Your Website’s E-E-A-T
Focusing on the following six areas will help you improve the E-E-A-T signals of any website.
1. Include an About page
It's surprising how many legitimate businesses don’t have an About page. Or, if they do, it’s hidden away on the website or just a few paragraphs of text without any details of the founders or leadership team.
SEO benefits aside, an About page plays an important role if regular people are considering doing business with you. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase who you are, what you do, and how this makes you special.
2. Add business information
According to Google, the amount of business information you show depends on the type of website.
A humor website, for example, isn’t expected to have a lot of information. But if you’re running a business (even as a third-party or affiliate), consider adding the following details to your site:
- Business address
- Business registration number
- Business tax number
- Telephone number
- Contact Us page
- Customer service contact
3. Clearly show who wrote the content
An author’s expertise has long been thought to affect search rankings, particularly in some “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) niches like health and personal finance.
Following the Helpful Content Update, Google published guidance that suggests this now applies to every niche. The guide includes the following assessment questions:
Is it self-evident to your visitors who authored your content?Do pages carry a byline where one might be expected?Do bylines lead to further information about the author or authors involved, giving background about them and the areas they write about?
Most of the above can be satisfied with having an author byline and a blurb about why they’re qualified to write the content.
A mistake I often see many websites make is not linking an author’s byline to an author’s page. Instead, the byline is unlinked or takes readers to the About page instead.
It takes only a few moments to set up an author page, write a brief biography, and stack it full of E-E-A-T signals.4. Add E-E-A-T signals into your content
4. Add E-E-A-T signals into your content
The written quality of your content and the accompanying on-page assets like images, videos, and charts can affect how “Trustworthy” Google finds the page.
Another insightful section in the Search Quality Evaluators Guide, Section 5.0, defines low-quality pages and provides this example:
Google also comments on why it’s a low-quality page.
Here, we can see that Google’s measure of “quality” is closely aligned with E-E-A-T. They comment that the MC (main content) is “unsatisfying” in its purpose of helping people adopt children from Iraq.
So, theoretically, how would we improve the E-E-A-T signals of this — or any — article?
Here are six ways I’d approach it:
1. Have the article written by an expert or someone with verifiable experience
The author should work for a fully licensed and certified adoption agency. Or, they have adopted children from Iraq and can prove it. This could be an adoption certificate, or a photo of them in Iraq, or with their child.
2. Use the introduction to do the heavy E-E-A-T lifting
Google’s Search Raters have only a few minutes to evaluate each website. That’s probably only a few seconds longer than most readers’ attention spans.That’s why I recommend using the introduction to clearly demonstrate why the reader should trust you and set yourself up as the “knowledgeable guide.”You can do this by:
- Mentioning any licenses/certificates you have related to the topic
- Describing your years of experience or the number of times you have done the thing
- Revealing a pitfall or personal triumph that shows you actually have experience with the topic
- Using language like: “In my experience…”,“From my previous visits/attempts… I learned…” and “From my extensive research on…"
3. Use custom images and videos to enhance trust
Including a photo, video, or screenshot is a quick way to gain the reader’s trust and get them to think, “OK, this writer knows what they’re talking about.”
For example, the E-E-A-T value of adding photographs or videos with the author actually doing the activity far outweighs any quality concerns with not using stock images.
Also, in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google mentions a sign of “low-quality” content is photos and videos that come from other sources.
4. Be specific
The feedback from Google for the adoption article notes, “There is almost no information specific to Iraq.”
Theoretically, the author could have included the following information in the article:
- How many children are up for adoption/placed each year in Iraq
- What the visa considerations are for adopting children from Iraq
- If Iraq gives children any vaccinations
However, it turns out that these are all moot points, as foreigners are not allowed to adopt children from Iraq! An E-E-A-T failure all around.
5. Stay focused on the main topic
You can always spot content that has been heavily SEO’d when it includes content that doesn’t need to be there.
For example, imagine an article titled “How To Change a Car Battery.” You can almost guarantee there will be a section titled “What is a car battery?” While this is tangentially related to our topic, it doesn’t move the reader forward in reaching their goal of learning how to change a car battery.
This is something that Wikipedia does incredibly well. Each page is laser-focused on one topic and hyper-related entities. If Wikipedia needs to mention a different topic within a specific page, it does so briefly and uses internal links to tie the two topics together.
6. Provide actionable advice
In the adoption article feedback, Google comments:
“..the steps listed here are merely commonly-known information that will be of little benefit to someone interested in adopting a child from Iraq.”
Specifically, Google cites where the article advises the reader to use a telephone book to find an adoption agency. Now, I do wonder how old this article is, but I am fully behind the point Google is making.
A lot of content doesn’t provide actionable advice. We underline this in every brief here at Eleven: Make sure you explain exactly how the reader can do the thing in as much detail as possible. Share step-by-step instructions, examples, and links to websites, apps, videos — anything that can help the reader move closer to their goal. move forward.
If you are truly an expert or have experience with the topic in question, you should be able to point the reader in a better direction than a phone book.
How to use ChatGPT to evaluate E-E-A-T signals
You can use ChatGPT to see how any page compares with Google’s Search Evaluator guidelines.
I’ve received some solid suggestions for improvement using the following four-step method. (I must stress that, like many things with ChatGPT, you should use it only as a guide.)
1. Add the “Ask your PDF” Plugin
2. Paste in the URL of the guidelines
ChatGPT should provide you with a summary of the guidelines if everything is working correctly.
3. Copy this prompt
Imagine you are a Google Search Quality evaluator. Please take a look at the following page. Grade each E-E-A-T component out of ten and provide an “Overall” score. Briefly explain why you have awarded each score. Provide bullet point suggestions on how we can improve each E-E-A-T factor.
4. Paste the page's content under the prompt
Unfortunately, the prompt won’t work if you paste in the URL of a page. Instead, you must copy and paste all the text — including the author’s box.
If the prompt runs correctly, you should see a summary with suggestions like these:
From here, quiz ChatGPT further and ask it to expand on some of the suggestions and share a few examples for improving the content.
5. Improve the E-E-A-T of your writers
It’s clear from the “Reputation of the Website and Content Creators” section (page 22) of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that the company is going much further than just looking at an author's byline.
For example, imagine if the world’s most renowned neurosurgeon wrote an article on brain function. Aside from taking the author’s byline at face value, Google would have other documents in its index that it could cross-reference.
It’s likely the doctor in question has written other articles or studies online. They might have been cited in academic papers. They could also be referenced on their hospital website and by various medical directories and organizations.
Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s not just the Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) niches, academics, and professionals that Google examines through this lens.
Fortunately, you don’t have to have Google’s army of webcrawlers to get an idea of an author’s E-E-A-T signals.
How to quickly check an author’s online E-E-A-T signals
An easy way to check an author’s E-E-A-T trail is to use a Google search operand:
-site:yourwebsite.com “Author’s Name”
You can then scroll through the search results and see the other places an author has appeared online. This can include social media profiles, Wikipedia articles, podcasts, and other websites where they’ve been published.
More well-known authors (or ones with less common names!) will have a knowledge panel in the search results. Sometimes, Google will generate a knowledge panel that you can claim, as shown below:
How to improve an author’s online E-E-A-T signals
Here are six ways to increase an author’s E-E-A-T signal. They’re also great if you’re the founder of a business and write the occasional article, too.
1. Ensure your website uses author schema
Structured data helps Google better understand content and potentially be more visible in search results. Adding a type of structured data called author schema helps build your author’s authority and clearly communicates to Google who wrote the content.
If your website runs on WordPress, you can easily add schema using an SEO plugin like Yoast. Alternatively, it should be a quick job for a developer to add the necessary JSON code to your site in the appropriate places.
To check that everything has been set up correctly, use Google’s Rich Results Test.
Simply paste in the URL and make sure the Google Inspection Tool Smartphone is selected. If your Author Schema is set up correctly it will look similar to below.
2. Set up a personal website
Setting up a personal website related to your niche is a quick and easy way to broaden your online footprint.
It’s particularly useful for founders with different business interests and they can build an email list to it. For writers it’s also a great place to showcase their writing portfolio to potential clients.
3. Have relevant social media accounts
Social media profiles are another easy way for Google to find you online. For some niches, LinkedIn and Medium posts are great ways to enhance E-E-A-T signals.
However, care must be taken to ensure the account is posting content related to your stated area of expertise.
Google encourages their search raters to be detectives. In section 3.3 “Reputation of the Website and Content Creators” of their rate guidelines they write:
“Reputation research is especially important for detecting untrustworthy websites and content creators. Content may look great on the surface, but reputation research can expose scams, fraud, or other signs of harm.
Now you might be wondering if this really does happen or not. To this point, I recently read this great forum discussion analyzing HCU traffic drops that showed some websites lost traffic because they didn’t have a linked social media account.
One poster gave the example of a fitness website with a YouTube account that had also lost traffic. However, the poster arguing the case for having relevant social media accounts showed the YouTube channel was full of SEO videos and nothing related to the author getting in shape.
Would Google be able to know all of this? It’s doubtful. But YouTube is owned by Google and I expect they could crawl the YouTube video titles for more context.
4. Check if a Google knowledge panel already exists
As shown above, you or the author might already have an unclaimed knowledge panel in Google search. Following this help page can help claim it.
5. Write a guest post
Guest posts have been a tried and tested SEO link building technique for more than a decade. But they are also a great way to strengthen E-E-A-T signals, especially if the website is in your niche or industry.
6. Be a guest on a podcast
Appearing as a podcast guest is another great way to build E-E-A-T and also pick up some backlinks to your website.. The podcast should also be related to your industry and bonus points if you’re invited on as an “expert”.
This is a common tactic employed in the hyper-competitive SEO industry to build E-E-A-T.6. Hire topic-expert writers
In this guide, we’ve seen how high-quality content written by industry experts can affect your Google rankings. A surefire way to guarantee the content your website publishes is full of E-E-A-T signals is to hire topic-expert writers.
Eleven can help you find writers who are qualified experts in your industry and that your readers — and Google — can trust.
Click here for more information.
Understanding how Google defines Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trust (E-E-A-T) is essential in today’s SEO landscape. Ensuring your website clearly communicates these signals gives your content the best chance of ranking now and in the future.
Remember, E-E-A-T is more than just getting your author’s boxes and blurbs on the page. Using the tips above, you can improve your website’s E-E-A-T in as little as an hour or two. Taking care of it now means you'll be better positioned to adapt to future algorithm updates, as Google continues to prioritize quality and reliability in its search results.
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