What is E-A-T? & Why It's So Important for SEO
(Google, E-A-T & SEO)
By:∣ Updated: April 19, 2021
Google faces the constant challenge of filtering out from a gigantic pool of millions of websites of the highest quality, and best helps search engine users.
EAT is a concept that significantly helps the search engine to assess the quality of websites.
In this article, you will find out what it is exactly, for which websites this factor is important and how optimization targeted for EAT can be.
Since the core update of August 2018 at the latest, EAT has penetrated the broad mass of search engine optimizers.
At that time, unlike Penguin or Panda, for example, Google did not punish bad websites but rather rewarded good websites. Namely, those whom she considered credible and trustworthy.
Because it initially looked like the update would only affect websites from the healthcare industry, it was initially called the Medic Update.
Not uninteresting marginal information because EAT plays a bigger role for some industries than for others.
However, all websites that are potentially capable of changing their visitors’ physical, psychological, or financial well-being were affected.
What Does EAT Stand For?
- Expertise = specialist knowledge and expertise Does the website convince with well-founded and in-depth content that comes from authors with specialist knowledge and expertise?
- Authoritativeness = authority, relevance, and reputation Is the website of such high quality that it helps to form opinions and is recognized by third parties?
- Trustworthiness = trustworthiness and reliability Can visitors trust the content and the entire website now and in the future?
The abbreviation stands for a variety of features that help Google to assess the quality of a website.
Is EAT A Ranking Factor?
The most important document connected with EAT is the Search Quality Rater Guidelines from Google (also called Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines).
The almost 170-page PDF is aimed at the 10,000 or so quality raters employed by Google worldwide. The guidelines give clear guidelines on how web pages and websites are to be analyzed and assessed.
The acronym EAT no fewer than 135 times in the publicly available document. A pretty clear indication of how important expertise, authority, and trustworthiness are for the search engine.
Nevertheless, EAT is not a ranking factor, even if relatively well-known and reputable websites sometimes claim otherwise.
The whitepaper “ Fighting disinformation across our products ” (2019) roughly explains how EAT is assessed. There it is clearly stated:
Google uses the results of the Search Quality Raters to derive patterns and adapt the algorithms.
In principle, the criteria specified in the Search Quality Rater Guidelines apply to all websites. However, it is in the nature of things that, for example, expertise and credibility are not the same for all websites.
In particular, websites that are not for information but entertainment need to be judged less sharply by the raters with regard to EAT.
It is relatively unimportant who the author is and how well he knows the subject with a joke page.
YMYL stands for “Your Money Your Life”.
This includes all websites that could possibly influence the personal life situation of the users. Both positive and negative.
The YMYL pages include:
- Government and agency sites
- Health pages
- Education Pages
- Finance pages
- Right sides
- News sites
- Online shops and other sites where financial transactions can be made
These websites deal with sensitive subject areas or have an increased risk potential because they process users’ data.
In the worst- case scenario, false information on a medical website could be fatal. Speculative investment tips lead to financial ruin on a stock exchange site.
Google, therefore, sets particularly strict standards for YMYL pages. EAT is weighted more heavily here and rated higher.
Why Is Google EAT So Important?
It is not without reason that Google is the search engine with the world’s largest market share. We all use this search engine because of the search results, which obviously meet our needs better than those of the competition.
The ultimate goal of Google search is to present its users with the best search results for their search queries. This is the only way that Google can defend its market power.
The search engine is the basis of Google’s success story, even if every offer no longer has something to do with the core business. But Google generates a large part of its valuable data about us through search.
Delivering the best search results is anything but an altruistic benefit but ultimately a win-win situation.
In addition, there is the enormous responsibility that such a global corporation like Alphabet has. The garage days are long gone.
In the worst case, the spread of false information can not only destroy individual livelihoods, it can even lead to global catastrophes. Google would also like to prevent this in its interest and use EAT to identify and limit risks.
The search engine is constantly faced with the challenge of filtering out the millions of websites that are most relevant to the respective search query. With expertise, authority and trustworthiness, Google can very well assess how high-quality, secure, and reliable a website and its content are. EAT fits perfectly into the philosophy of Google.
“One of the primary goals of Google is to protect its users from websites that misinform or deceive visitors, cause harm, and spread hatred. The Quality Raters are required to assign such websites to the lowest quality class. After all, Google also has to pay attention to its user experience in order to satisfy its users.“
How Does EAT Assessment Work?
Understanding content semantically is no longer a real challenge for Google today.
However, checking its accuracy and truth content is currently still impossible for an algorithm. Google, therefore, relies on a large number of signals that provide information about the relevance of the content and the authority of a website.
Gary Illyes, the webmaster trends analyst at Google, said a few weeks after this tweet at PubCon in Las Vegas that the content’s correctness is a ranking factor, especially for YMYL sites.
This was also confirmed to emphasize that this was technically but not so easy to measure, such as the Page Speed.
The Quality Rater Guidelines “does not say how the algorithm evaluates the results, but they show how the algorithm should proceed.” EAT is, therefore, primarily a concept for identifying high-quality websites based on numerous different signals.
These signals are measured by many different baby algorithms that have been incorporated into the algorithm with the core updates because Google reaches its technical limits when assessing expertise, relevance, and trustworthiness.
The Search Quality Raters (also Search Quality Evaluators) play an outstanding role. Your task is to evaluate websites according to the quality criteria clearly defined in the guidelines, of which EAT is not the only one.
After the analysis, the Quality Rater classifies each website in one of the following quality classes (Overall Page Quality Rating):
- Highest Quality
- High + Quality
- High quality
- Medium + Quality
- Medium Quality
- Low + Quality
- Low Quality
- Lowest + Quality
- Lowest Quality
In the guidelines, Google explains in detail – also with examples – what characterizes a website of the respective quality level.
Webmasters and SEOs and web designers, web developers, and copywriters can learn a lot from this. The document is therefore required reading for anyone who wants to contribute to good and successful websites.
“Anyone who does search engine optimization should be aware of the existence of quality raters at all times.
Google not only sends the web crawler over but also flesh and blood employees.
It not only helps to be aware of this but also to take the perspective of the Google employee in order to constantly work on your own website.
Because, unlike the crawler, a quality rater does not come back so quickly. A poor quality class can therefore lead to problems in the long term.“
“Google cannot technically measure EAT as a whole and is therefore looking for clues that speak for quality with many baby algorithms. In addition, Search Quality Raters carry out manual assessments.
As a result, there is no EAT score that expresses expertise, authority, and trustworthiness with an absolute number. Even if you read about such a score again and again.“
What Influences EAT?
The guidelines also provide information about what influences expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. As is often the case, the most important influencing factor is the content, more precisely the main content (MC).
“Main content is any part of the page that directly helps it achieve its purpose.
With the exception of User Generated Content, webmasters have direct control over the MC.
MC can include text, images, videos, page functions (e.g. calculator, games), or user-generated content such as videos, reviews, articles, and so on that users have added or uploaded to the page. ” (Source: Search Quality Rater Guidelines)“
In YMYL pages, the correctness, completeness, and comprehensibility of the main content are decisive.
Supplementary content, which “contributes to a good user experience on the site, but does not directly help the site achieve its purpose,” is differentiated from the MC. Google emphasizes that SC is also important because it can help a page achieve its purpose better and add to the overall experience.
In addition, advertisements/monetization (ads) are delimited. Whereby Google states that the “presence or absence of ads is not in itself a reason for a high or low-quality rating.
Without advertising and monetization, some websites could not exist because it costs money to maintain a website and produce quality content.”
Anything else would be surprising when you consider that Google earns a lot from many ads. However, those who overdo it with advertising or no longer provide objective information because they are too dependent on advertising income will also lose credibility and trust.
Ultimately, both main content and supplementary content, as well as advertisements/monetization, have an impact on EAT. However, their influence is weighted differently.
How Can EAT Be Optimized?
Now that we have dealt extensively with what Google understands by expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, which websites it particularly affects, and how it is analyzed, some optimization measures come to mind.
Others can be deduced by taking a closer look at the winners and losers of the latest core updates and their websites.
Optimization Of Expertise
- In the YMYL sector, in particular, websites should focus on a specific topic instead of offering a variety of topics.
- Experts should always create main content for YMYL topics with expertise.
- The main content should be thoroughly researched, fact-based, and objective. In the sense of holism, different aspects of a topic should be considered so that the reader can form his own opinion at the end. For example, for and against arguments, theses, antitheses, syntheses, fact checks, and summaries contribute to this.
- As far as possible, all content-related statements should be backed up with sources in an understandable manner and facts supported by expert statements. External links to other reputable websites are not a disadvantage.
- The author should at least be named for each article. It is better to have an author description that takes into account the author’s expertise. This not only creates trust with Google but also with the reader.
- The more sensitive the website’s topic, the more useful it is to have detailed author profiles on separate pages linked from the author box under the article. Everything that makes the author an expert should be dealt with in as much detail as possible: biography, education, title, professional experience, teaching assignments, customer and work references, awards, etc.
- A slightly leaner alternative is the editorial page, on which the authors are introduced.
- The more people are involved in creating the content, the more sensible are uniform and binding editorial guidelines that apply to everyone. Communicating them transparently on the website is a clear plus.
- In the case of particularly sensitive subject areas, user-generated content should be avoided because its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
- Even if the content comes from specialist authors, it should always be written in easily understandable language. Foreign words and technical terms must be explained.
- Easily understandable does not mean flippant. Formal language increases the reputation of the content.
- It is not a shame to make it clear to its readers and, thus, Google how much work (e.g., research effort) goes into an article.
- Contents should be checked, updated, and expanded regularly. These optimizations should be evident, for example, by specifying an update date.
- Mentions and backlinks are the most powerful boosters of authority, authority, and reputation. The more respected their source, the more valuable they are. You can only get mentions and backlinks through outstanding expert content that offers real added value.
- While backlinks are primarily registered by Google, good reviews also catch the eye of Internet users. Not only evaluation platforms can be used for this. With plugins, it is quite easy to integrate functions that enable consumers to evaluate the content directly. For example an article.
- Professional engagement strengthens one’s authority. This can be done online, for example, by writing guest articles and participating in forum discussions and offline, for example, as a book author, lecturer, speaker, or speaker.
- The shine of other experts always shines on your website. Inviting experts for guest contributions or interviews, therefore, pays off. But be careful: Having no idea of your subject area and then simply wanting to “hire” an expert doesn’t work that way.
- Google likes to use Wikipedia. A separate Wikipedia article triggers a massive reputation boost.
- An imprint and contact information are part of the basics so that a website at least appears trustworthy.
- Online shops and other websites on which data – in particular payment data – are transmitted must offer encrypted data transmission (HTTPS) and secure payment options.
- Texts with correct spelling and grammar exude seriousness.
- No false modesty: Awards, seals, association memberships, and the like may be effectively presented on the website. But please, no dubious fantasy seals from the stock database.
- Advertising of any kind should be clearly marked. Affiliate links, advertising slogans, sales promises, and calls-to-action must be used discreetly. They are rather counterproductive on YMYL sites.
- Clearly formulated and publicly accessible advertising and sponsorship guidelines signal transparency, promise objectivity, and thus also create trust.
- Conflicts of interest of any kind should be avoided.
- Brands enjoy greater trust than no-names, which is why active brand building should be pursued.
For optimization, it is important to understand that expertise, authority, and trustworthiness apply to the website and the author or authors because, without trust in the producers, there is no trust in the content.
That is why it is always important to keep an eye on both dimensions.
Conclusion: EAT Is Not A Ranking Factor, But It Should Not Be Underestimated
EAT is on everyone’s lips and will continue to gain importance in the future. The most important learnings at a glance:
- EAT is not direct, but an indirect ranking factor.
- There is no EAT score.
- EAT is not equally important for all websites.
- EAT helps Google present helpful search results and defend its market share.
- Optimizing for EAT does not lead to a direct boost in the rankings. It takes time to research and create excellent content, to develop expert status, and to build trust.
- EAT cannot be corrected quickly. This requires resources and patience. Once trust is lost, it is difficult to regain.
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