If you care about SEO and how your site performs in the search results you should care about E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) but it’s also more than just about search engines. Search engines such as Google will use E-A-T as part of their ranking algorithm but once users land on your website it will also increase conversion rates and improve the perception of your brand.
What is E-A-T?
E-A-T stand for expertise, authority and trust, and it’s used within search engine ranking algorithms to rank sites in the search results. Sites that show their expertise in a certain subject matter, build authority in their niche and create trust between the publisher and user will be rewarded while those that fail to do this will start to notice declining traffic.
Google uses E-A-T across all search queries but when it comes to searches that can affect a user’s financial or physical wellbeing, also known as your money, your life (YMYL), this gets dialled up. This is why it’s particularly important for sites that focus on financial or medical information.
Why is it important?
E-A-T is important to us the user and because it’s important to us, it’s important to search engines. E-A-T is something we subconsciously use in our everyday lives to decide where we go out for dinner, what shops we go to, and what schools we send our children to. As humans, we subconsciously process all this information to make our choices.
- When choosing restaurants we might look at reviews, ask a friend or look at their hygiene rating.
- We decide where to shop based on return policies, what the shop looks like or where it’s based.
- When looking at schools we look at their previous results, Ofstead ratings and what other parents think.
Google takes a similar approach and applies this to how it ranks the search results. Google wants to promote reputable sites and aims to make sure that the sites they rank give people helpful information so that the next time they want to know something, they go back to Google.
This also ties in with how Google generates income from Google Search.
Google makes money from the search results ($39.6 billion in Q1 2022 alone) by showing ads at the top of the search results. If people stop trusting Google to give them the right information and they go elsewhere Google will stop making money. Therefore it’s in Google’s interest to show up-to-date information written by experts rather than misleading information written by “admin”.
What can you do to improve this on your site?
As SEOs, we like to optimise everything we possibly can but when it comes to E-A-T this becomes a lot harder. E-A-T is something that is very difficult to track as there are no metrics tied to this concept, unlike PageRank or link metrics provided by SEO tools. By taking a step back from all the tools we like to use and going back to how we process information, it starts to become much easier.
In our earlier example of choosing a restaurant, we would look at the reviews or the hygiene rating. As humans, we know that these reviews might be on Just Eat or Trustpilot and the hygiene rating would be on the local council website but Google doesn’t have our experiences. In the same way that if we go to a different country we might not know where to find a restaurant’s hygiene rating.
In the case of this restaurant, we could improve the E-A-T of their website by adding customer reviews to the site along with their food hygiene certificate. This also benefits people who visit your website to decide if they want to eat there.
If you saw two different sites, one with reviews, the menu and a food hygiene certificate while the other only has a phone number, opening hours and an address, which are you more likely to visit?
Following this type of thinking, here are some other things we think are important to include on your website to help show your E-A-T:
- If you have a blog on your site, show who the author is. You can take this further and add an author bio on the blog post along with a link to their profile.
- Include team or author pages on your site and tell people why you’re an expert. This could be your industry experience or education.
- Create an about page that gives a bit of background on your website/business, who runs it and why you’re qualified to help.
- If your business has won multiple awards then create a page which highlights this.
- Add reviews from your customers, this can even be automated with widgets from Trustpilot or Google My Business.
- Are there any industry standards you follow/have achieved? For example, a mortgage broker could show the FCA regulates them, an accountant can show they’re a member of the ACCA and a waste disposal business can show they have a waste carrier license.
- Add a physical address to your contact page which helps to show you’re a real business. This could be your registered address.
These are just a few ideas but it’s well worth taking the time to think about how this can be applied to your business and the sector you work in. Another good place to look is the Google Quality Rater Guidelines which can give you an idea of what quality raters are looking for and then applying this to your site.
Are there any downsides to relying on E-A-T?
While most of the time E-A-T is a good thing to use as part of the ranking algorithm it can be difficult for newer sites and newer voices to rank well. Older sites tend to be more authoritative as they have had longer to show their expertise through a vast catalogue of blog posts, gather more reviews and gain more links to their site.
Other times the best sources on the internet can have no E-A-T. The best example of this can be seen on Reddit, where users might not be an expert in a topic but as they’ve gone through something similar/faced the same issue they are able to provide you with their solution, which may have gone unnoticed if they had posted it on their own website or blog.
Time to review your site
Now we’ve covered the basics of what E-A-T stands for, and why it’s important to include for both search engines and visitors to your site, it’s time to review your own website. When working on improving E-A-T at Capsule Marketing I find it helps to break your site down into the main sections such as the homepage, service/product pages, blogs and about pages. You can then review what you can do to these groups of pages to start to show your expertise, build authority and gain the trust of your audience and search engines.