You may have heard of the term EAT in relation to Google and how they measure the integrity of a website. Today’s internet is a competitive, dog eat dog kind of world. If you don’t have the best content on a subject, it’s unlikely that Google will rank your site among the top. That’s why paying attention to EAT is very important to the success of your website.
We are in the business of writing great content and Google is in the business of determining whose content really is great. While we do know that Google includes over 200 ranking factors in their decision, we unfortunately don’t have a lot of concrete evidence of what those factors are and how important each of them is to Google`s ranking.
One thing we do know is that Google regularly implements changes to their algorithm in order to improve their quality standards. Nothing stays the same for long. The target is constantly moving.
That means we must also constantly be improving and upgrading our content to stay on top.
Luckily, while we don’t know exactly what goes into Google’s secret sauce, we do have some insight into the way they evaluate the quality of a website. In 2018, Google updated their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which were first released in 2015. It is a comprehensive document explaining many things about what they look for in quality websites.
The reason EAT has gotten so much emphasis lately is that a major algorithm change occurred in August 2018 that focused heavily on the concept.
The algorithm change may or may not have affected your site. The effect could be due to a few missing factors on your site that make it appear less authoritative than others, but Google has also explained that your site may have lost rankings merely because other sites that were undervalued have gained more traction.
Regardless of the August 2018 algorithm change, in order to build a site for long-term success, you need to understand what EAT is and ensure you have done everything you can to meet these standards.
What is EAT?
Eat stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. In Google’s quality guidelines, they make it very clear that a top-rated site must have all of these things.
We’ve spoken a lot about building your brand and increasing your authority. Google’s EAT theory is why it’s so important.
You can’t build authority and expertise overnight, which is what makes the process of ranking well in Google so arduous and long. If you’re just starting a blog or website, you have to spend many hours of hard work building up your authority and expertise, especially if you have no intrinsic expertise already built up.
While Google does state that these principles are most important to sites that fall into the YMYL (your money and your life) category of sites, it is not by any means limited to those sites. It comes into play in all aspects of the internet. So if you don’t have a health or wellness site, don’t think you’re not affected.
The idea is that high-quality pages demonstrating a high level of EAT while low-quality pages don’t.
When Google’s evaluators look at your site, how will they rank it? Do you have a high level of EAT?
Aspects of a High-Quality Site
According to Google’s Search Quality Guidelines, a high-quality site has a number of important aspects. These are laid out for evaluators, so they know what to look for. The specific aspects are:
- The purpose of the page
- Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness
- Main content quality and amount
- Website Information and information about who is responsible for the main content
- Website reputation and reputation about who is responsible for the main content
It is important to note that Google requires the lowest rating be given to “websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users”.
- A high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness for the topic being discussed.
- A satisfying amount of high-quality main content, including a descriptive or helpful title.
- Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website.
- Positive website reputation for who is responsible for the main content on the page.
- Positive reputation of the creator of the main content, if different from that of the website.
What does all of this mean? You will need to improve nearly every aspect of your site in order to display the right amount of expertise and authority, and – to be blunt – convince Google that you are worthy of being ranked above others in your space.
Avoiding the Dreaded Medium-Quality Site
Obviously, not every site can or will achieve the highest quality rating. In fact, many blogs fall into the medium-quality rating. These are pages that are beneficial and meet their purpose, but what makes them medium-quality is:
- Nothing wrong, but nothing special
- Mixed high and low-quality content, making it hard to call it one or the other
It`s highly likely that your own site falls into this medium-quality category, especially if you started your blog before many of the high-quality concepts were important. You likely have content that needs to be revived in order to bring it up to the high-quality ranking. If you want to get started on this task, we recommend our ebook Revive Old Content.
Why You Need Authority to Succeed
Today, there are more than 440 million blogs on the internet. That’s likely to be a very conservative number by 2019. The industry is exploding and there are more and more bloggers who are taking the job seriously and attempting to make a business of it. Just take a look at the statistics on this infographic put together by BlogTyrant. There is more competition than ever before and it’s only going to get harder.
Being an authority doesn’t necessarily mean having formal training in your subject, but if you don’t, you certainly need to strive harder to show what Google refers to as everyday expertise.
Do I Need Formal Training to Have Authority?
Google does say that evaluators should not penalize a site for not having “formal” training in a given field, if the field doesn’t necessarily warrant it.
For instance, if you’re providing medical or financial information, breaking news, or information that could have a negative impact on a persons health, wealth or happiness, then you must have formal training and expertise to be considered high-quality.
However, if you have a hobby blog, a travel site, a fashion blog, etc, you can build your expertise by showing that you know a lot about your topic. I personally have a travel blog. I can build my authority by showing I have a lot of expertise in a specific destination or topic (such as food and wine). I can show that I have been traveling for 20 years, been to 70 countries, and have interviewed and worked with many leading travel organizations.
Backlinks Are Not Enough – Reputation is Everything
Working on my authority over time allows me to become more visible around the internet, to build up valuable links from high-authority sites, and to build a positive online reputation.
If at one time backlinks to your site were enough positive proof for Google, those days are well and truly over. It will take a lot more than just a few good links to rank well in Google today.
How to Improve Your EAT
All this talk about high-quality ratings might have you a bit worried. How in the world will you ensure that your content meets these standards and will be ranked well?
The good news is that Google`s quality guidelines not only gives us insight, it also helps form a checklist that you can follow to improve your site.
Maintain a High Level of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
Below you will find 3 ways you can improve your EAT and achieve a higher quality rating. We suggest taking each of these suggestions to heart and applying them to your site as quickly as possible, in order to stay on top of the ever-changing Google algorithm. If you allow yourself to get too far behind in implementing these improvements, you may find yourself wallowing at the bottom of the medium-quality rating and gaining significantly less traffic than you have potential for.
3 Ways to Increase EAT
1. Have A Satisfying Amount of High-Quality Main Content
What Google Says: “We will consider the main content of the page to be very high or highest quality when it is created with a high degree of time and effort, and in particular, expertise, talent, and skill […] Very high-quality main content may be created by experts, hobbyists, or even people with everyday expertise. Our standards depend on the purpose of the page and the type of content.
The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page. A high-quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have more content than a high-quality page on a narrower topic.“
What You Can Do:
- Make sure your content is factually accurate, clearly written, comprehensive.
- Give all important, useful information on the topic to fully satisfy the user’s intent.
- Focus in on specific areas of expertise. Create cornerstone content and lots of supporting content on that topic.
- Eliminate or build out pages with very little useful information.
- Don’t use sensational headlines or misleading tactics.
- Narrow down your topic so you are sure to nail the user intent and provide the most useful information.
2. Present Clear & Satisfying Website Information
What Google Says: “Understanding who is responsible for a website is a critical part of assessing E-A-T for most types of websites. High-quality pages should have clear information about the website so that users feel comfortable trusting the site.”
What You Can Do:
- Add an author bio to every post so it is clear who is responsible for the information.
- Maintain an About Us page that contains information for all authors on the site, as well as who is responsible for the website in general.
- Add evidence of your expertise to your site: formal training, informal experience, awards, achievements, recognition.
- Add evidence of social media following and engagement to your site where it can easily be seen.
- Provide an easy way for readers to get in touch with you to answer their questions.
3. Build and Maintain a Positive Reputation
What Google Says: “Very positive reputation is often based on prestigious awards or recommendations from known experts or professional societies on the topic of the page. For some topics, such as humour or recipes, less formal expertise is OK. For these topics, popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation. For topics that need less formal expertise, websites can be considered to have a positive reputation if they are highly popular and well-loved for their topic or content type, and are focused on helping users.
While a page can merit a high rating with no reputation, a high rating cannot be used for any website that has a convincing negative reputation.”
What You Can Do:
One way to build your reputation is to engage with the people who are commenting on your brand or niche and to encourage more engagement on social media.
- Respond to all comment left on your blog, answer every email you receive from readers.
- Create engagement on social media and any forum websites you participate in to encourage positive engagement around your brand.
- If you offer recipes, be sure to allow user reviews.
Once your blog is established, you will begin receiving backlinks and mentions that you aren’t aware of. People love your content and want to link to it and share it. However, the opposite can also be true. When you receive negative comments, take the necessary steps to mitigate any harm it might do to your brand.
Some things you can do to monitor your brand:
- Occasionally Google your brand name and look for any negative mentions.
- Keep an eye on your backlink profile and attempt to spot any bad links. You can disavow links that give negative credibility to your site.
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