Google has been developing content ranking algorithms for over 20 years. The main goal of working in this direction is to provide the perfect user experience. The faster users find the information they need, the better.
Google’s EAT algorithm is one of the most important components that affect user experience. Thanks to it, neural networks learn to recognize high-quality pages and help improve their ranking.
1. Introduction to Google E-A-T
Not all webmasters are familiar with the E-A-T abbreviation, although Google representatives have been talking about the concept, Quality Raters, Assessor Guidelines, and other components of the algorithm for a long time.
Some optimizers believe that E-A-T affects only some niches, so it is not always necessary to study its features in detail. It seems that it is enough to get basic information and follow a standard strategy for promoting a resource.
In fact, the algorithm is relevant to almost all topics. In niches that affect financial and health issues, it is a priority, but in others, it is also essential to comprehensively optimize your website.
1.1. About the evaluation criteria of Google assessors
Google EEAT is based on four criteria: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) for assessors provide clear guidelines for quality raters to follow.
Each criterion is essential, but the most crucial is trust. If a page is not trustworthy, authority and experience will not allow assessors to give it the highest rating.
Search engines rely on these components because of the importance of providing a good user experience. This condition is the basis for many updates to the main ranking algorithm.
1.2. What is Google E-A-T?
E-A-T is a quality assessment concept based on four components. It helps assessors to check whether a page and a website can provide an ideal user experience. The data from quality assessors are transferred to Google engineers and then considered for the development of the search engine’s algorithms.
In niches that affect people’s health or financial well-being, E-A-T plays a crucial role. Pages without a sufficient level of reliability or expertise cannot count on high rankings in organic search results.
1.3. What has changed in 2022?
Many webmasters believe that the actual application of E-A-T in 2023 is questionable, but this is a misconception. Optimizers must face the fact that it will not be possible to promote websites as before only with the help of link mass.
A large-scale update in December 2022, codenamed Double-E-A-T, testifies to the relevance of the algorithm. This time, Google confirmed that the degree of experience has a special role. Users need first-hand information.
In the guidelines for assessors, the author’s experience check was singled out in a separate section. If the page looks reliable, assessors need to make sure that the requirements for other quality criteria are met.
Double EAT SEO is a large-scale update, whose impact on search results has not yet been sufficiently studied. Not enough time has passed since the release of the algorithm to talk about global changes in the SERPs.
2. How Is SEO EEAT Rated?
Anticipating the questions of SEO beginners, we note that the page and the site as a whole do not have a score. If you take two pages from different projects and choose the better one, you can’t say that it got 100 points out of a hundred possible.
Assessors rate content according to a special scale. For example, if the content is of very low quality, it may receive the category “No E-A-T” rather than zero points. It is important for webmasters to understand how everything works to have a chance of getting organic traffic.
You can count on a Very High E-A-T score only if your content is perfectly optimized. If there are even minimal claims to reliability, authority, or experience, you should not expect to achieve the desired result.
The concept of experience in each case is conditional. For different topics, the requirements for experience vary greatly. For example, if users are looking for reviews of a hotel, a visit to it will be enough.
Experience has been integrated into the E-A-T concept before, but it has only recently been singled out as a separate component. Original content combined with information that confirms the existence of one’s own experience makes it possible to get a high rating.
Expertise and experience are often confused because the concepts are very similar, but there is actually a big difference between them. Personal experience is when the author can tell about something he or she has undergone. And expertise is manifested in an authoritative opinion.
For example, if a user is looking for information with tips on investing in the shares of IT giants, they are likely to need expert analytics. And when you want to make sure that you have filled in a questionnaire correctly, you can rely on the review of an ordinary user.
Content authoritativeness is based on the reputation of the website and the author. If pages with high-quality content appear on the resource regularly, the project can eventually gain the status of an authoritative one.
It is crucial for any project to publish only verified facts and rely on the experience of niche experts. You can improve authoritativeness by working with opinion leaders.
Trustworthiness implies whether the information published on the page can be trusted. This quality criterion is especially crucial for niches that directly affect people’s health and financial well-being.
For example, if a user is advised to invest in a scam project, reliability is out of the question. Google’s algorithms try to keep such pages off the first lines of search results.
Trust in content is the most important component of SEO EEAT. Even if the author refers to a case study in the content, the assessor will not immediately give the highest score. Each criterion is checked based on a set of factors.
3. Is E-A-T a Factor in SEO Ranking?
Webmasters usually pay attention to updates only if they affect content rankings. In the case of E-A-T, optimizers argue about whether it is a ranking factor. The answer to this question can be found in the statements of Google representatives.
Danny Sullivan mentioned on Twitter that E-A-T cannot be measured as content loading speed. There are many speed test services, but each of them gives different results.
E-A-T is included in a large list of signals that ranking algorithms take into account when generating search results. Therefore, if a page has problems with other parameters, high scores of authoritativeness or trustworthiness will not be decisive.
In the context of each site, the initial data will be arbitrary. It is known that the four criteria of the concept are highly important. But there are no tools for checking the scores, such as, for example, for PageRank.
4. Why Is the E-A-T Concept Important for SEO?
Many webmasters don’t pay enough attention to this algorithm because they consider it secondary. There is a misconception that it is only relevant for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL).
In fact, the concept affects all niches because the trustworthiness and authoritativeness of a source are essential for any topic. For example, users will stop trusting the site if they see fake news.
The Google EAT update proves once again that the search engine has not abandoned its development vector with a focus on user experience. Crawlers monitor behavioral factors and understand whether visitors are satisfied with the content quality.
The concept is important because it helps to improve ranking algorithms. The more relevant the search results are, the more users can quickly solve their problems.
E-A-T can be called a tool for measuring website quality. Four criteria help to understand whether the content is sufficiently expert or created by AI (artificial intelligence) and how well it meets the search intent.
5. Factors That May Affect E-A-T
Many factors affect E-A-T, each of which is important. For example, authoritativeness can be converted into dozens of separate parameters: author awareness, the number of social signals, etc.
When auditing content, assessors check whether it helps to solve the problem. If the page fails to solve the problem, the number of internal links and the availability of uploaded materials will not help to get a high score.
According to the guidelines for assessors, we can conclude that the following factors affect E-A-T:
- The level of trust in the author and the website
- The quality of the link juice of the page and the domain
- Content authenticity;
- Availability of links to external authoritative sources
- The tone of comments;
- The uniqueness of images and videos;
- The date of the last update;
- The number of citations.
The list above is not complete; it can be extended at least several times. Website owners must put in much effort to count on good rankings. At the same time, it is important to constantly improve website optimization.
6. History of the E-A-T Score Development
Google’s EEAT definition did not appear in 2018, as the vast majority of optimizers believe. The foundation for the future algorithm was laid many years ago when mentions of website quality assessors first started to appear.
It is believed that the first use of the term E-A-T was recorded in 2013. But most optimizers began to work closely with the concept after 2018 when Medical Update changed the situation in the SERPs.
Experienced SEO specialists say that Google Panda and Penguin were a preparation for what the E-A-T algorithm now contains. You can disagree with this opinion, but there are many similar signals.
Back in 2003, it became known that the search engine started assembling a team to assess content quality. The team was made up of ordinary users who underwent special training.
Today, the team of assessors consists of a large number of employees from all over the world. It is known that the result of their actions affects the further development of content ranking algorithms.
In 2008, the first downloadable versions of the guidelines for assessors were made publicly available. One of the quality assessors posted the classified data on the Internet. It became clear that, in addition to crawlers, people could also carefully evaluate the site.
The public version of the document was far from perfect, but it contained useful data. Using it, webmasters could understand the approximate evaluation methodology and optimize their sites to get a high ranking.
This year is considered the birth of E-A-T and YMYL, although there is evidence that they appeared earlier. For the first time, webmasters had the official version of QRG from the search engine at their disposal.
The recommendations for quality assessors were not as detailed as they are now, but there were a lot of interesting data for webmasters. They could be useful if used correctly.
This year, QRG and E-A-T were not as popular as they would be in 3 years. Google continued to develop the concept, and, in some time, it would become one of the key components of the main algorithm.
The most advanced webmasters already realized that they needed to rely on more than just link juice. Focusing on authority, expertise, and reliability could result in profits in organic search results.
By this time, webmasters knew about the E-A-T abbreviation, but few took the time to customize their sites to the concept. Everything changed after the release of the Medical update, which completely transformed the SERPs in a few months.
After the release of the Medical update, many case studies appeared. The analysis of winners and losers made it possible to understand that more effort will now be required to rank well in YMYL niches.
In December, Google Search Central’s Twitter account announced that E-A-T was transformed into E-E-A-T. The additional letter emphasizes the importance of experience along with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
In general, nothing has changed for webmasters, because, in YMYL niches, they still needed to create content based on their personal experience. But now, the assessors’ evaluations in this aspect have become more realistic.
It is also important to remember that the author’s experience does not come first. Even if you have experience, the page score may be low due to a lack of trust. Therefore, you need to improve the situation comprehensively.
7. Main Changes in Google’s Search Quality Score Guidelines in 2022
In addition to changing the abbreviation, the Google team has substantially revised the document. It contains 176 pages of useful information, and some website owners may find this volume excessive. However, the latest update was aimed at making it more understandable.
It’s safe to say that a webmaster with any level of knowledge can read the file’s content and have a minimum of questions. Some concepts are presented vaguely, but there are no difficulties, such as in explaining the mechanism of PageRank calculation.
The updated guidelines for assessors contain a lot of useful information about what standards a search engine adheres to when it must assess the author’s authoritativeness or the comprehensiveness of information about the project owner.
7.1. Understanding a website (Section 2.5)
Understanding the website means carefully evaluating the home page and the project team and analyzing the contact information. Assessors are advised to find as much information as possible about those responsible for the content.
The homepage often contains information about the project’s features, the experience of the authors, and other important facts. It’s where you should start evaluating the resource when analyzing it.
7.2. Identifying who is responsible for the website and the author of the content (Section 2.5.2)
Every page has an author, and it is important for users to have information about him or her publicly available. If the content was not created by an opinion leader in a particular niche, visitors should know what kind of experience the author has.
A new table has been added to the section to help assessors better understand who may be responsible for creating different content formats. It is important for algorithms to know whether the owner and the author are the same people.
7.3. Overall page quality assessment (Section 3.0)
The approach to assessing the quality of a page now involves three stages. First of all, the assessor must determine the main purpose of the page. Next, they need to understand whether the page is dangerous for the audience. The final step is to assign a rating based on the E-A-T scale.
A complete absence of E-A-T is allowed if the page is of very low quality. Such content is unlikely to get to the top of SERPs because of the possible negative user experience.
7.4. Quality of the main content (Section 3.2)
Optimizers mistakenly believe that it is enough to make the content highly unique according to one of the popular anti-plagiarism tools to get a high score. But in fact, assessors are required to check for originality.
The guidelines state that it is necessary to visually determine whether the author has made enough effort to create useful content. If they only made a compilation and did not add anything personal, the score would be appropriate.
7.5. Reputation of the website and content authors (Section 3.3)
The EAT of a website depends on the reputation of the project and the content authors. Now, assessors are advised to check the credibility in the context of the page’s content. That is, if a review of a law firm is published on the page, personal experience is crucial.
The concept of an authoritative source is the same in each case — it is a website that can be trusted. If the information is verified and contains up-to-date facts, the user experience will be high.
7.6. Reputation of content authors (Section 3.3.4)
This section provides basic guidelines for assessing the authors’ reputations. Assessors are told that the levels of awareness and expertise can vary greatly in each case.
For example, if we talk about professional criticism of a restaurant, you need to find mentions of it on various resources. Different facts may be indicated in the bio section, but without confirmation, they mean nothing.
7.7. Experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) (section 3.4)
This section contains an important diagram that allows you to assess the priority of algorithm components without guesswork. Reliability is on the top, with the other criteria placed on the sides.
Trustworthiness is the main component of a quality page. The content may seem expert and unique, but if there are discrepancies with real-life situations, the user experience will be spoiled.
7.8. YMYL topics: Experience or expertise (section 3.4.1)
Assessors can get confused about the differences between expertise and experience, so the prepared guidelines help to understand the theory. Personal experience is when a person can talk about situations they have experienced. And expertise is manifested in providing a professional opinion.
You should keep in mind that in some cases, expertise can be formal. For example, if you need to evaluate the menu of an establishment from the point of view of an ordinary visitor, a professional opinion will not be relevant.
7.9. Harm to yourself or others (Section 4.2)
Google pays a lot of attention to analyzing a page for maliciousness. If the content can be dangerous for the audience, assessors give it the lowest possible score. Domain authority and other criteria should not affect the overall result.
The examples provide good illustrations of false content that harms users. Websites with such content receive the “No E-A-T” category, and the issue is closed for them.
7.10. Lack of E-A-T (Section 5.1)
This section provides examples of pages that should receive the lowest E-A-T score. Such an EAT score is assigned, for example, when the author has no personal experience but criticizes a restaurant.
In some cases, webmasters do not even realize that the pages of their project do not comply with the algorithm at all. It is quite common because there are few really high-quality projects, and the rule is relevant for many niches.
7.11. Language updates in the document
In the new version of the document, Google has updated the language. Now, it can be shared with an audience with any level of SEO experience. It will take time to study 176 pages, but problems are unlikely to arise.
Website owners in any niche can analyze the recommendations for assessors. To do this, you don’t even need to delve into the technical features of determining link juice or other complex concepts.
8. How Google Assessors Evaluate the E-E-A-T of a Website
Some webmasters believe that assessors are guided by their preferences when rating a website, but this is untrue. There are detailed instructions for each category, so the choice is made solely based on QRG requirements.
For example, if a website looks attractive and contains information about the owners and authors of each article but lacks expertise and reliability, the score will be low. Usability and the availability of editorial data will not affect anything.
8.1. The lowest E-E-A-T score
The lowest E-A-T score is given to malicious pages or those that cannot be trusted at all. Assessors are especially attentive to YMYL sites, where the information provided can affect health or personal finances.
You can be sure that quality assessors will give a low score if they have valid reasons. Webmasters should take a closer look at examples of pages with zero E-A-T, for example, a site about a children’s center that has a bad reputation due to fraud.
8.2. Lack of E-A-T
Pages of very low quality can fall into the category of “Lack of E-A-T.” It means that it is impossible to check the authority and other criteria. Such content should not be accessible to users.
It is very easy to make sure that a page does not contain useful information. A basic analysis that can be done in a few minutes is enough. In this case, usability and other parameters do not affect the result.
8.3. High level of E-E-A-T
A high level of EAT in SEO is given to pages with perfect characteristics in all four criteria of the concept. If there are problems in at least one area, you can forget about this category.
When it comes to YMYL topics, there should be evidence that the author is an expert. This can be evidenced by the number of the creator’s followers, the volume of mentions, and other evidence of authority.
8.4. Very high E-A-T level
Few pages receive a very high E-A-T level. To achieve this, they must be comprehensively optimized — from data relevance to exceptional content uniqueness.
For example, in the search engine optimization niche, some bloggers put much effort into creating high-quality content. Almost every article by Brian Dean quickly reaches the top of search results for relevant queries.
Over time, the score may change. Content freshness and relevance of facts are essential in many niches. For example, a salad recipe remains unchanged for many years, as well as smartphone reviews, but sporting events happen very often.
9. Basic Principles of E-A-T and YMYL Themes
When website owners start to understand what EAT is in SEO, they quickly find a connection between this concept and YMYL. There is an opinion that the algorithm was developed specifically for topics for which the author’s expertise is essential, but this is not the case. The four criteria are relevant for all niches.
The point of E-A-T for projects that affect people’s health and financial well-being is that the author’s experience and credibility are checked very carefully. And in niches where formal expertise is sufficient, the requirements are much lower.
For many years, the search engine has been recommending that webmasters pay maximum attention to creating content that not only looks relevant but actually meets the needs of the target audience. In the future, the focus on this will be even greater.
Google tries to provide the perfect user experience in all cases, and if malicious resources get in the way, they will quickly disappear on the hundredth page of search results.
10. How Important Is Google E-A-T for Non-YMYL Topics?
Due to the close connection between E-A-T and YMYL, many webmasters believe that they do not need to monitor authority and other concept criteria for topics where they can do without formal expertise. But all the components of the algorithm are important in this case as well.
When you learn what Google EAT is, the YMYL acronym does not immediately catch your eye. For example, if the author writes about the drawbacks of a smartphone based on information from open sources, this info cannot be trusted 100%. Although it does not affect the financial situation, false data worsen the user experience.
Webmasters should set a high bar for the quality of content on their projects, regardless of whether they can be classified as YMYL. If a topic falls into this category 100% of the time, even more effort is required.
11. How to Improve Website Performance?
It is impossible to increase the effectiveness of website rankings without improving the optimization to the perfect state. This applies to both creating author cards and getting additional mentions from reputable projects.
For a project to realize its potential, you need to create a comprehensive development strategy that takes into account all important aspects. When internal and external optimization works in favor of the site, search engine algorithms take this into account.
11.1. Create high-quality content
Quality content implies original materials that are difficult to copy. If you have a review site with tech reviews, create tables and diagrams and add a watermark to your photos.
There are hundreds of reviews of new iPhone models in search results, but there are examples that remain in the memory, and a person can return to them over time. It is difficult to achieve this result, but it is possible if you make an effort.
11.2. Regular content updates
Representatives of the search engine said that the algorithms closely monitor the frequency of updates, and pages with more up-to-date information are usually ranked better. But this only applies to materials that become outdated over time.
A page won’t necessarily get a low score according to Google’s EAT SEO concept if there have been no updates for several months. For example, smartphone reviews are written once, and the authors do not add anything to them. In this case, there is no point in changing anything.
The search engine values that the site is periodically updated with new information. Therefore, if you cannot update pages with organic traffic, it is better to create new URLs with high-quality content.
11.3. Fact checking
Before publishing any news or recommendations on your website, check them carefully for authenticity. If there are any discrepancies, you should not make the information publicly available.
When analyzing content, assessors also pay attention to the sources listed on the page. Add at least 2-3 sites that can be called authoritative. This will be an additional advantage for the project.
11.4. Use only reliable sources
In niches lacking formal expertise, it can be difficult to find reputable sources. Therefore, you need to build links carefully. In an ideal world, webmasters would link only to resources they trust 100%, but in practice, the mechanism does not work so perfectly.
High-quality content combined with verified facts paves the way to high positions in organic search results. Webmasters are often afraid to add links to external resources; for safety reasons, they can be closed with the nofollow attribute.
11.5. Create your images and videos
There are several dozen popular photo editors on the market today. If you don’t need to create large amounts of media content, you can use a free version. Canva will cover most of your needs.
The EAT guidelines have clear instructions on the need to check the authenticity of the content. Downloadable materials, videos, and other interactive content increase user loyalty and positively affect referral traffic. Take the time to develop media content to get high rankings.
11.6. Cover other related issues in your publications
The more problems a particular material solves, the better. In a smartphone review, you can not only focus on its shortcomings but also talk about how to fix them.
Create content that meets the needs of your target audience as much as possible. If users don’t return to search results, the algorithms will realize that the page completely fulfills the task.
11.7. Sharing content that contains the author’s experience
Assessors will easily distinguish between a compilation and original content created on the basis of one’s own experience. If a person has never visited a fitness club but writes about the low qualification of trainers, it looks weird.
Be sure to create author cards on your website and tell about their experience. It is advisable that they have social media accounts with relevant content and regular activity. It will also be a plus if the creators are mentioned on other authoritative resources.
11.8. Create a presentation for visitors
Information about site owners and the editorial staff is essential for users and assessors. It is vital for them to know who is behind the project and what goals they set for themselves. For example, the NYTimes has a separate page with information about team members and a detailed profile of each.
You can create such a page very quickly using the built-in constructors that most popular content management systems have. This task is very important for updating Google EAT.
11.9. Collaboration with experts
Information projects in various niches regularly invite opinion leaders to create content together. For a tech review project, collaboration with tech bloggers seems to be a natural fit.
It is difficult for new sites to attract local influencers, but if you motivate them well, you can get not only an article but also a mention in the creator’s profile. This is a very powerful tool that should be integrated into your promotion strategy.
11.10. Create incentives for reviews
Reviews don’t always look like positive mentions on Yelp and other review sites. Search engine algorithms have long since learned to recognize the tone of reviews, so even a discussion under an article can give bonuses for page ranking.
You can motivate users to write comments by using a system of rewards and gamification elements. Many popular CMSs have modules with rewards, ranks, and other features.
11.11. Build a positive brand reputation
A positive reputation of a project is not formed in one day. It takes a lot of time, and the task can be accomplished only with constant work. Develop your website comprehensively to make it a recognizable brand.
For example, in the case of an online store, you can create a community where skilled craftsmen can help solve technical problems. Users will be interested in such help because they will save time.
11.12. Publish contact information
Without demonstrating expertise and having your own experience, you will not be able to prove to users and assessors that the project can be trusted. Links to the personal profiles of the authors and the website are just one of the steps to getting high marks.
Many projects use social media just for show, which is a mistake. It is better to choose 1-2 channels and create relevant content for each platform. This will increase audience engagement.
11.13. Create additional mentions
When website owners start figuring out how to create SEO-friendly content for Google EAT, not everyone pays attention to creating additional mentions. This is important both in the context of developing an author’s profile and for increasing brand authoritativeness.
You can get links with the help of high-quality content. If it is possible to post articles on authoritative platforms in your niche, create a comprehensive promotion strategy and follow it on an ongoing basis.
11.14. Build authoritative backlinks
Employees of the search engine have repeatedly pointed out that E-A-T takes into account the quality of links. Unique content alone may not be enough for good rankings. Its high level must be confirmed by external sites.
In this aspect, it is important to rely on quality rather than quantity. If there is no relevant connection between the donor and the recipient, the funds will be wasted. Therefore, take the time to establish cooperation with reputable projects in your field.
Remember that in highly competitive niches, competitors make every effort to stay on top. In the medical field, there are almost no projects without a page describing the editorial staff and the competencies of each author.
12. Google E-E-A-T and the Future of SEO
The EAT update for SEO indicates that the search engine has not rejected the development vector with a focus on behavioral signals. It is this group of factors that allows you to quickly determine whether a resource is of high quality in the eyes of the target audience.
In the near future, the E-A-T concept will remain relevant and develop. Perhaps, the acronym will be transformed once again, and other quality criteria will appear in it. It can be assumed that the recommendations for assessors will also be updated.
The analysis of trustworthiness, expertise, authoritativeness and the availability of personal experience help improve ranking algorithms and bring only trusted pages to the top. That is why the concept is very valuable, and without taking into account its features, there is no point in counting on successful promotion.
13. Summing up
Website owners used to underestimate the role of Google E-A-T, which resulted in problems with the ranking of projects. Many of them have corrected their mistakes and managed to create an updated organic promotion strategy.
Even webmasters with minimal optimization experience can conclude that the search engine will continue to focus on E-A-T criteria. Otherwise, there would be no such active work in this area.
Frequently asked questions
What is Google E-E-A-T?
It is a concept of evaluating a page based on four criteria: the author’s own experience, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, and expertise. Each of these components affects the way algorithms evaluate content.
What is E-A-T in SEO?
The search engine pays a lot of attention to the development of the algorithm as it helps to improve the quality of search results. Google is interested in providing a perfect user experience 100% of the time.
What are Google Search Quality Ratings Guidelines?
They are recommendations for assessors that help to improve ranking algorithms. The document is publicly available, and anyone can read it.
Do websites have an E-E-A-T rating?
If we are talking about a typical score that webmasters are used to, then no. Quality evaluators assign a certain category to a page — from the lowest to the highest E-A-T level.
How is SEO E-E-A-T evaluated?
The rating is based on a combination of different factors. Assessors analyze the complex state of the project and decide which category can be assigned in a particular case.
Is E-E-A-T a ranking factor?
It is a powerful signal for ranking algorithms. The better a project is optimized, the more chances it has to move up in organic search results. But only if there are no problems in other aspects.
Why is the E-E-A-T concept important for SEO?
Because it helps to accomplish the main task of any search engine — to quickly solve people’s problems. It is exactly what E-A-T was created for.
How to increase the E-E-A-T score of your website?
You can’t increase the score by creating author profiles or additional links from reputable projects. It requires comprehensive, ongoing, and targeted work in all areas.
Is E-A-T important for niches outside of YMYL?
Yes, the credibility and authority of a project are crucial in any niche. For YMYL, the requirements are simply more stringent. Expertise and other criteria must be met at a high level.
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