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The FutureProof Blog

What is Google E-E-A-T ?… and do you need it ?

What are customers looking for in a business? It’s one question that Google works really hard to answer. Currently the answer is E-E-A-T, a phrase that comes directly from Google, and stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. In this post we’ll take a real close look at what E-E-A-T is, and what you can do to demonstrate these factors for yourself, on your website.

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What is E-E-A-T

E-E-A-T is a concept taken from Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. Each letter represents a factor that the manual search raters, a Google team that examines search results, are instructed to measure for pages and websites that rank.

Experience – the writer has first-hand experience of the topic.

Expertise – the author’s level of knowledge or skill on the topic.

Authoritativeness – known as a go-to source,established and respected in the field.

Trustworthiness – the level of accuracy, honesty, safety, and reliability.

Why does E-E-A-T Matter ?

Google is on a mission to improve the results they give their users. They are clamping down on a number of sectors, product review affiliate sites for example, using generic, spun or AI generated content to “game the system.” You need to demonstrate to Google that you’re a real person, running a real business, with real expertise and experience, don’t assume they know already.

Can you Fake E-E-A-T ?

You can try, but I’m pretty sure it won’t work. It’s not a good idea to try either. Would you put fake reviews on your site? Would you display trade badges you hadn’t earned or awards that you didn’t win? I hope not. Well E-E-A-T is the same.

If you’re good at what you do, and you’ve been doing it for a while, then it shouldn’t be too hard to show that. If you’re a new business, or a new website, then it’s about time, effort and hard work earning it.

What is Google E-E-A-T

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines

The Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines are a set of instructions provided by Google to evaluators known as “Search Quality Raters.” These guidelines are designed to instruct these raters on how to assess the quality of search results, and the websites featured in the results.

The guidelines, and the rater process, aim to improve Google’s search results in terms of relevancy and usefulness to users. Think of it as a human taking a sample of results and manually checking them against what Google is trying to achieve with its algorithm and indexing systems. The guidelines help raters understand what high-quality content is and how to evaluate it.

How are websites rated? The guidelines outline a number of criteria. Number one is relevance, then it’s experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, or E-E-A-T. The guidelines provide examples of different types of content and scenarios, along with explanations of why certain pages would be considered high-quality or low-quality, based on the criteria. They are periodically updated to reflect changes in the algorithm and search policies.

Lowest & Highest E-E-A-T Levels

How do we know what good E-E-A-T looks like? Well, the Search Quality Rater Guidelines tell us. The document says that all 4 are important, but that the most important is trust. It implies that experience, expertise and authority are all elements of trust, as the diagram below, taken from the guidelines, shows. It’s also interesting that trustworthiness is not described, only examples are given; “a financial scam is untrustworthy, even if the content creator is a highly experienced and expert scammer who is considered the go-to on running scams.”

E-E-A-T Diagram

Experience : Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust : a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a “review” by someone who has not?”

Expertise : Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary knowledge or skill for the topic. Different topics require different levels and types of expertise to be trustworthy. For example, which would you trust: home electrical rewiring advice from a skilled electrician or from an antique homes enthusiast who has no knowledge of electrical wiring?

Authoritativeness : Consider the extent to which the content creator or the website is known as a go-to source for the topic. While most topics do not have one official, Authoritative website or content creator, when they do, that website or content creator is often among the most reliable and trustworthy sources. For example, a local business profile page on social media may be the authoritative and trusted source for what is on sale now. The official government page for getting a passport is the unique, official, and authoritative source for passport renewal.

The guidelines go on to explain that page quality can be assessed in 3 key areas; first. The about page, or other information on the site about the business or author. Second, information from other sources; independent reviews, references, news articles etc. Lastly, the page content. Is it obvious from the content on the page that the author is an expert in the field and has experience of the topic ?… if so, then the information can be trusted.

YMYL Content

YMYL or “Your Money or Your Life,” a term coined by Google to categorise certain types of important content. Some topics require a higher standard of quality (or E-E-A-T) than others. For example, information that may impact health or financial security, personal safety, or society as a whole. If your content falls into one of these categories then Google sets a higher bar.

learn more about YMYL content…

But is E-E-A-T a Ranking Factor?

Technically no, but Google says that about a lot of things. But I like to think of it like this; The Search Rater Guidelines are the benchmark for content quality, and Google is on a journey towards an algorithm that can accurately reflect it. They’re not there yet, but with each new update they get a little closer, as we’ll learn later when we look at recent “helpful content” updates. I’m convinced that one day soon, it will be the only ranking factor, even more important than links.

The Helpful Content Updates

Google released the helpful content update in the summer of 2022. Google said that the update would target “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.”

The March 2024 core update was Google’s attack on the challenge of AI generated content at scale. “We believe these updates will reduce the amount of low-quality content on search and send more traffic to helpful and high-quality sites… we expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.”

These two large updates are about rewarding business owners, websites and content authors who have, and can display E-E-A-T. There’s no expertise shown, and certainly no trustworthiness demonstrated, by AI generated content.

YMYL Content

The 4 Elements of E-E-A-T

Let’s look at experience, expertise, authority and trust in more detail, what they mean in a small business context, and how to let Google know that you have them. These aren’t SEO tricks or quick fixes, it’s about being open and honest.

Experience

Have you done the thing you are describing? Have you been to the place you’re writing about? Have you used the product you are recommending? Real-world, first hand experience of the subject matter. It’s one of the first things that customers ask me; “have you designed a website like this before?” “have you run SEO campaigns for business like this in the past?” In much of the content here on this website we recommend SiteGround as a hosting provider, we have been using them exclusively for many years, that’s experience, and Google is trying to quantify this experience.

How to demonstrate experience

  • In a small business context, your portfolio is the obvious example. Images especially, but also text, describing the work you’ve done for previous clients.
  • If you run an E-Commerce store, then publish informational content, video ideally, explaining the product, user guides for example. A client from a few years back sells healthy baking products. She writes regular recipe blog posts using the products.
The Best Free From

Expertise

Google links expertise with the author of the content, so this could be different from the owner of the business or the website. Think education, qualifications, reputation within the industry. How is it that you get to tell other people how and why they should be doing what you say? 

Expertise is the most important E-E-A-T element for YMYL search queries; medical advice, financial advice, legal advice etc. Look at the bio in the screenshot below from webmd.com, as an example.

Web MD Author Bio

Show your expertise

  • The author bio above is the best way to demonstrate expertise. If you click on the name it takes you to a highly detailed page with a link to LinkedIn. At the bottom of this page you’ll see my author bio.
  • For a small business your about page is where to feature all of educational achievement, qualification and industry credentials.
  • It may sound obvious, but only write about topics where you have expertise. If you need to rank for search terms outside of your expertise, ask yourself, is that a good idea? And maybe employ an expert to work on the content.

Authoritativeness

Much of the SEO industry reduces authority to a simple backlink metric, the domain authority of a website. And while this is important I think there’s a bit more to it than this. In my view, there are three factors that influence Google’s understanding of authority;

  1. Experience + Expertise = Authority.
  2. Links from high authority websites in your field.
  3. Topical Authority; the quality and quantity of your content.

Are you an authority?

  • Domain authority is a Moz metric to estimate the credit Google gives you for the quality of your backlink profile. Learn about DA in this post… 
  • Topical Authority, in an SEO context, refers to a website’s expertise and credibility on a particular subject, or topic. The theory says that; it’s unlikely that your site will rank for a single post on a particular topic, but if you publish 25 posts, they all have an increased chance of ranking. Every topic is different; some may only need 10 posts, some might need 50 posts or more.

 

learn more about topical authority…

Trustworthiness

Is the content “accurate, safe, honest and reliable?” Let’s return to the search rater guidelines for more info on trust. If you were wondering, the word trust is mentioned 177 times in the guidelines, indicating how important it’s viewed by Google… 

“The type and amount of Trust needed depends on the page, for example: 

  • Online stores need secure online payment systems… 
  • Product reviews should be honest and written to help others make informed purchasing decisions (rather than solely to sell the product). 
  • Informational pages on clear YMYL topics must be accurate… 
  • Social media posts on non-YMYL topics may not need a high level of Trust, such as when the purpose of the post is to entertain its audience…

 

Experience , Expertise and Authoritativeness are important concepts that can support your assessment of Trust… Trust is the most important member of the E-E-A-T family because untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how Experienced, Expert, or Authoritative they may seem. For example, a financial scam is untrustworthy, even if the content creator is a highly experienced and expert scammer who is considered the go-to on running scams.”

Do your customers trust you?

  • Have a contact page and make it easily accessible from anywhere.
  • Make sure that your website is secure, and display the https badge.
  • Display reviews from previous clients, and link to your portfolio.
  • Clearly display company and privacy policies.
  • Some of the trust signals Google is looking for are standard practice for small business websites. Include your name, address and phone number (nap) clearly, the footer is a good spot.
Do customers trust your business?

Build and Demonstrate E-E-A-T

As we’ve discovered, you shouldn’t think of E-E-A-T as a checklist, it’s a holistic approach. Imagine your first meeting with a new client and the questions they ask you. They want to hear about your experience, they want to know that you’re an expert in the field, and most of all they need to trust you. If you’re in a “high ticket” industry these aspects of your business become even more important, and more important again if you’re in health or finance.

As we discussed earlier, you can’t fake it, but what you can do is make sure that all of the information you have is clear to your customers… and clear to Google. Here’s some tips on how to build signals and show them off. Remember, your customers need to see these too.

Experts and Experienced Professionals

This could be you, it could be a staff member or it could be an expert in the field outside of your organisation, an interview for example. Google is better and better at weeding out content that doesn’t meet the “expert” standard, so make sure that your content meets the criteria.

Adding Value - What is Information Gain?

Information gain is a theory that’s entering the world of SEO more and more these days. Crawling and indexing the web costs Google money, in fact it’s their largest expense. If your content doesn’t add anything new to the topic it’s unlikely to outrank the content already there. Write something original, produce a video or an infographic, conduct some research. Whatever it is, make Google take notice.

A Positive Brand Reputation

From the day you launch your business you need to think about building a brand, and every decision you make should have your brand reputation in mind. The content on your website is a reflection of what you do and who you are. Write great content, and demonstrate to your customers why they can trust you.

Author Bio, “Meet the Team” & About Pages

It should be clear, and very easy to learn about the people who work at your company (or write the content on your website). Include; Who they/you are, a profile picture, experience, areas of expertise, contact info, and other posts they’ve worked on. Also include links to press, podcasts and posts from other websites. Check out my about page, it’s not perfect, but it’s a start…

DMA Awards 2023

How to use Schema Markup

The schema mark-up “author” property is used in structured data to provide search engines with specific information about the author of a web page, a blog post for example. This markup helps Google understand who the author is, link their content together across the web and display relevant information about them in the search results; great for visibility, and credibility. The “same as” property will also allow you to associate your content with your LinkedIn profile. Below is what the code looks like. If you have multiple professional profiles this is the perfect way to tell Google that they are all from the same “entity,” the same business, or the same person. 

				
					<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "https://schema.org",
  "@type": "Person",
  "name": "Adam Bermingham",
  "url": "https://futureproofdigital.ie/adam-bermingham/",
  "jobTitle": "Author",
  "image": "https://www.example.com/images/adam-berimgham.jpg",
  "sameAs": [
    "https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamberminghamfpd/",
  ]
}
</script>

				
			

Traditional Media - TV, Radio, Print

Some digital marketing professionals will tell you that traditional media is dead, but that’s not true at all. If you get the opportunity to promote your business on TV, on a local or national radio station or in a newspaper, jump at the chance. Promoting this on your website hits every E-E-A-T criteria in one go.

Create a Personal Brand

So many small and local businesses, start out as lifestyle businesses, and are the product of one person. Building a personal brand is vital these days. When we work with clients like this we use the about page for personal branding and for showing off expertise and experience. Check out the page below from Bliss Beauty & Health, right here in Castlerea, Roscommon, it’s all about the owner…

Website About Section - Showing E-E-A-T

Traditional Business Trust Signals

Local SEO is so much about trust, “people buy from people” right? All of the advice I give to local businesses applies to E-E-A-T optimisation as well. One of the most important Google Business Profile ranking factors is reviews, and this also builds the perception of experience and trustworthiness. 

The two links below explain the importance of reviews, how to get them from your previous clients, and the other factors that make up a great local SEO strategy and Google Business Profile. 

https://futureproofdigital.ie/blog/what-is-a-google-business-profile/

https://futureproofdigital.ie/blog/how-to-get-customer-reviews/

External Linking

For the longest time SEO experts have said that linking away from your site to other websites has no benefit, positive or negative, on your website, but this opinion is changing. Much like academia, referencing the sources of your information builds expertise and authority signals.

E-E-A-T And AI Generated Content

So much of what Google is doing over the past two-three years is in response to the rise of AI generated content (even though they are generating a fair bit of it themselves. If you’re using Chat GPT, Jasper AI or even Surfer SEO then be careful, if Google can’t tell now, then there’s a good chance they will be able to in the future, and that could lead to a penalty. 

We use AI in our content process, but only in the early stages, as a time saving measure, for routine tasks; keyword research, clustering, post title brainstorming etc. Check out the post below… 

https://futureproofdigital.ie/shorts/using-ai-to-write-content/

Should you be using AI to write content ? 10+ Top Tips

E-E-A-T, the long-term SEO Strategy

Google has made several announcements in recent months concerning spam (what they call AI generated content) and helpful content. They’ve implied that many of the concepts outlined in this post have been incorporated into the core algorithm, or will be in the future, and that means that new changes may not be announced. 

E-E-A-T is just a good idea. Google will be looking for more and more signals each year (twice a year actually, with each broad core update) and the signals will have to be more solid. If you don’t start now you’ll be playing catch-up forever.

What E-E-A-T Means for Your Business

E-E-A-T is the big thing in SEO right now. The industry has been running to stand still in recent months, just trying to keep up with what Google is doing. Thousands of websites have lost all of their rankings, all of their traffic and all of their business. There’s a few reasons for this, but mostly it boils down to low E-E-A-T signals, and Google viewing these sites as spam.

Take a look around your website, with this post as a guide. What are you telling Google about you and your business? If you need some help with this, get in touch and we’ll have a chat about improving your E-E-A-T, and how to use your website to get the message across.

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About Adam Bermingham
This blog is dedicated to helping you stay ahead of the curve, with insights into the latest trends, tools, and best practices. Whether you’re a business owner, marketer, or web designer, we have something for everyone. We bring you expert advice, tutorials, and case studies to help you optimise your online presence.

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