If you are interested in the subject of website optimization, you may have heard of EAT SEO. It’s a newer addition to Google’s ranking factors and can have a profound impact on your website. It’s imperative that you understand what this is and how you can capitalize.
EAT stands for Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness. Those are the building blocks of Google’s quality ratings.
You must think about EAT if you want your site to have a decent ranking in Google search results.
We’re going to talk about how Google sees your site and what you can do to improve their view. Most of what you can do to improve the way Google sees your site involves — spoiler alert — improving the content on your website. That’s not always easy, but the payoff can be tremendous.
We’re going to talk about a lot of things, but bear in mind that the central question Google asks when it evaluates any website is, does this site have a beneficial purpose.
That means beneficial to the reader. Is there something of value? Can a visitor learn something, be entertained, get something they need?
If a site (or a page on a site) exists only to make money, spread disinformation, deceive, or harm, and does not offer any benefit to the visitor, it is banished to a deep black hole of sites that Google considers “low quality,” never to be heard from again.
Google doesn’t ever want you to see a low-quality site in your search results.
Why Does Google Care About Your Content?
I became interested in search engine optimization about ten years ago. Back then, Google’s watchword was relevance. If you could make your site relevant to a given search, you could rank highly in the results.
A lot of different elements went into that idea of relevance, but expertise and authority weren’t yet the essential ingredients that they are now.
Eventually, it became clear that you could write content that was relevant to a subject, but otherwise wholly false or misguided. To their credit, Google saw that as a problem, so they began working on implementing E-A-T as a ranking factor.
Google cares about the content on the sites they rank highly because, in addition to wanting information to be relevant, they also want it to be accurate.
If you are presented with search results that don’t answer your questions or give you incorrect answers or information, you’re going to look for another search engine.
Obviously, Google doesn’t want you to do that.
And, if you think about it, there are circumstances where incorrect information can be life-threatening or bankrupt someone. We’ll get a bit more into that aspect of search rankings in a minute.
But the bottom line is Google favors websites that they consider to be beneficial and trustworthy.
What Are Trustworthy Sites? How Can I Be Sure My Site Is Trustworthy?
Google’s E-A-T standards are pretty straightforward.
Expertise – Is the author an expert on the subject?
Authority – Is the author a well-known or recognized authority on the subject?
Trustworthiness – Is the content accurate?
So, in a nutshell, trustworthy = accurate.
The other elements of E-A-T SEO, expertise and authority, can certainly be established but may take a bit of time and effort.
Accuracy is a lot easier to tackle. Review your website and make sure that you are not publishing inaccurate, misleading, or deceptive content.
If you can maintain a high standard of accuracy, Google will consider your site to be trustworthy.
An Army of Google EAT Evaluators
Google is known for their algorithms, for the automation of information evaluation. But it might surprise you to learn that Google also employs over 10,000 human evaluators.
Those humans are called “quality raters,” and they rate all websites. They are on the lookout for information that is potentially harmful, but at the same time, they are evaluating EAT.
Not only your website’s overall EAT SEO, but your authority as an author (as well as that of all the authors who contribute to your website).
So you can’t trick Google into believing your site is something it’s not by using technical workarounds or deception. A person is going to be the final judge, and they take their jobs very seriously.
All you have to do is look at the Google quality rater handbook to see just how seriously. It’s detailed, it’s long, it’s comprehensive. You can’t fool anyone who uses it to evaluate your site.
I mentioned that your EAT as an author is important. That’s because Google pays close attention to who authored an article and what their credentials are.
Those credentials or experience have to be relevant to the subject being written about for Google to consider the author an expert or authority. Especially if they are writing about a YMYL subject.
YMYL? What the heck is that?
EAT and YMYL, the Alphabet Soup of SEO
People who work in the SEO field seem to love acronyms, so Google gave them a gift when they started talking about “YMYL.” YMYL is short for “Your Money or Your Life.”
That’s Google shorthand for content that can affect your health, happiness, safety, or financial stability.
YMYL applies primarily to websites that focus on news, science, politics, technology, medical, fitness, healthy lifestyle, government, law, financial, and even shopping advice.
If that sounds like your website, Google takes your content very seriously, and they will apply YMYL benchmarks.
How seriously Google takes YMYL information can be seen in a pair of algorithm updates that had a severe impact on a lot of potentially harmful sites. The first was the “Medic” update in 2018 and a 2019 core update.
The results of those updates are YMYL evaluation in action.
EAT SEO, Google, and You
If you are an above-the-board, sincere website owner or operator who puts your visitors first, Google is on your side.
You may have already experienced the upside of running a website with a beneficial purpose if your search results rankings have improved.
But just about every site has room for improvement. So even if you’re on top of your game, there are some ways to take it even further…ways to boost your E-A-T SEO.
- Update your articles. Stale content is more likely to be seen as low quality. While you’re reviewing your articles, you can take steps to improve them with EAT in mind.
- Make sure your titles and headlines are descriptive and accurate and don’t attempt to mislead visitors.
- If you make a claim, back it up. Any supporting evidence that you can provide, such as links to authoritative sources, helps ensure that your articles are honest, relevant, and reliable.
- Make sure that all of your YMYL-type articles are well written and researched. Remember that the goal is to be reputable and authoritative (which applies to any article, of course).
- Don’t be afraid to “go long.” The more comprehensive your article is, the longer it’s likely to be. Google knows that and factors it into rankings. There’s a place for short-form articles, but make sure to provide more in-depth information as well.
- Appearances matter. A well-organized, mobile-friendly site is going to have a competitive advantage over a poorly laid out, difficult-to-navigate website that addresses the same topics.
- People trust other people. Don’t just provide a byline, provide a bio. And include a picture of yourself. Establishing trust with your visitors is much easier when they know something about you. Talk about your areas of expertise in your bio. That works toward making you an authority.
- And never forget that the key to EAT SEO and every other standard Google measures you by is that your website serves a beneficial purpose and provides genuine value to visitors. Keep that top-of-mind and you can’t go wrong.
Ask Yourself What Visitors Really Want When They Search
I was going to add this to the list above, but it deserves a section of its own.
One way to demonstrate expertise is to understand the needs of your visitors. What I mean by that is understanding what people are looking for when they search.
It’s not uncommon to massage an article to optimize it for specific keywords or phrases. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s good SEO practice. But when you’re doing that, ask yourself what the person searching for that information really wants.
If you optimize an article for “how to set up a new turntable to play your father’s records,” you’d better provide a comprehensive tutorial showing a visitor how to do just that.
Don’t skimp on information. Overexplain. Meaning, determine what your potential visitor needs and then surpass those needs.
Thinking a bit more deeply about search intent can up your optimization game.
How to Tell When Your Search Engine Optimization Is Complete
Oops, sorry. I meant to say, Your Search Engine Optimization Is Never Complete.
I know, it all becomes a bit much at times. EAT SEO, YMYL, SERP, CTR, LPO, SEM. When does it end? When can you stop learning new things about SEO and just lay on a beach somewhere reading a book (that isn’t about SEO)?
The short answer is, you can’t.
As long as Google keeps working to improve the relevance, correctness, and value of its search results, you’ll have to keep adjusting.
The good news is if you strive to be honest and beneficial, you’ll never fall far behind, no matter what kind of changes might come along.