E-A-T. No, that isn’t an instruction I’m giving to you. Even though you may well be reading this having just skipped your breakfast.
Instead, I’m referring to SEO. We all seem to love an abbreviated name for Google tools and updates – BERT being another example. Anyway, E-A-T has come hot off the pan in recent years.
So, what actually is it? Does E-A-T even exist and if so, how does it affect your website rankings? Let’s hop into things, starting with a brief explanation of what it is.
What on earth is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. Google uses these three traits to measure the legitimacy of pages, amongst other things. The trio are often mentioned in the company’s Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
To evaluate expertise, online content must have been created by, well, an expert. This could be either an individual or organisation. They need to have what Google would classify as relevant topic experience. Alternatively, other qualifications could affect this criteria. Life experience can also be sufficient in some cases, such as on Quora forums.
Online expertise can be determined by a range of factors. An example would be the number of articles they’ve written about any given topic. The content they’ve written on other sites can also be taken into account, as can an explanation on how they became an expert in their field.
Authority is determined by how the expertise of a content creator is perceived by others in the same subject area. They must also be valued as such by their wider audience. An important thing to note is that Google looks away from sources that said website looks after. Mentions from other organisations, awards, reviews and expert opinions all play a role.
Trustworthiness is influenced by reputation, along with factual accuracy. Moreover, organisation transparency – including your website and policies – are taken into account. This means that your terms & conditions page must be clear, in addition to your company description and contact information. If you have a refund policy, that should also be the case – likewise with any similar site areas to the ones we’ve mentioned here.
What common misconceptions surround this idea?
That it’s an algorithm. But before you close this tab in fury, hold on. It’s more complicated than that.
E-A-T isn’t an algorithm, but is instead multiple algorithms. And Google algorithms tend to work together. As the company’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, said in 2019: “Google has a collection of millions of tiny algorithms that work in unison to spit out a ranking score. Many of those baby algorithms look for signals in pages or content”.
Each subsection of E-A-T also has multiple ranking factors. There are no fewer than 200 search engine ranking factors, as was cited in a November 2019 Search Engine Journal article. These include page speed, HTTPS and so on.
Final thoughts – how much attention should I pay to E-A-T?
E-A-T can be considered to have an indirect impact on your rankings, since it’s the culmination of multiple factors. Google employees have taken to the internet to share similar thoughts – case example below.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor? Not if you mean there’s some technical thing like with speed that we can measure directly.
We do use a variety of signals as a proxy to tell if content seems to match E-A-T as humans would assess it.
In that regard, yeah, it’s a ranking factor.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) October 11, 2019
But with all being said and done, E-A-T is no replacement for a proper SEO audit. Sure, you can make sure you’re optimised in all three criteria. However, to do that you must identify all of your website’s problem areas and adapt accordingly. Yes, keep it in mind – but don’t lose too much sleep over it.
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