Figuring out Google’s ranking algorithm is tough but necessary. Whether you’re focused on understanding the ins and outs of local SEO or you’re more focused on organic search results at the national level, you have to have some knowledge about what Google is looking for and how pages and content rank.
In 2015, Google released something called the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. They released the guidelines in full in response to a leaked version circulating online.
The guidelines had three main points that indicated how Google assesses web pages and how they make the distinction between high-quality and low-quality content.
The guidelines are meant to serve as a reference point for human search evaluators who work for Google. These are the people responsible for rating how well the algorithm is working.
What is E-A-T?
You may have heard these guidelines referenced as E-A-T. While the term isn’t new in terms of Google rankings, an algorithm update in 2018 made it even more important. The 2018 update was dubbed the medic update because it seemed especially relevant to health and medical websites, but it also affected other websites.
Around this time another acronym started being circulated as well, which is YMYL. It stands for “Your Money or Your Life.”
So what does this all mean?
It means Google doesn’t just look at relevance in their delivery of information—they also want to ensure their users are getting correct information.
They don’t want low-quality pages showing up that could potentially impact someone’s well-being.
Google wants to make sure they aren’t serving pages that are fraudulent or have incorrect information, so that’s where E-A-T comes in—it stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
With all of these changes came the fact that quality evaluators for Google were reviewing not only a website’s E-A-T but also content creators E-A-T.
Google wants to see who is authoring the main page of content and what their credentials are to be providing such information.
The Author Box
If you want to rank well, you might consider building profiles for your content creators and contributors or using an author box. You can also do both. You can include an author box and then link to profiles elsewhere where your readers can go to learn more about your content creators.
If you use author schema markup, then it tells Google what it wants to know about an author.
Overall what you want to do is show who is writing the content and share their credentials so that the algorithm can use this information to find the author on other sites.
So What Does Expertise Mean?
Defining exactly what’s meant by Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness can get a bit tricky and gray.
As far as expertise this is where some of the components of traditional SEO may come into the equation. For example, you might want to create content based not only on keywords but also by thinking about searcher intent.
You also want content that’s in-depth but simple enough for a broad audience to understand, and you want to think about the next logical questions your reader might have and try to incorporate those into content.
Authority is based on factors related to link-building. If you are receiving links from authoritative, relevant websites, it’s going to be a big factor in how well you rank.
While links are important, it can also be valuable if you’re just mentioned on authoritative websites related to your industry or niche.
If your content is often shared across social media, it could help you boost your authority, and having a Wikipedia page is good from an authority standpoint as well.
Finally, What is Trustworthiness?
So from the perspective of Google, what is trustworthiness?
First, if there are negative things floating around about your brand online, you need to effectively deal with them because they can diminish your trustworthiness in the eyes of Google.
If you have complaints, try to address them sooner rather than later and make any necessary changes so that these bad reviews or sentiments don’t continue to grow.
This relates quite a bit to local SEO as well. With local SEO, ratings and reviews are an important ranking signal. You want to encourage customers to leave good reviews, and you want to put in the work to keep negative reviews at a minimum.
There are other ways you can make your site more trustworthy.
This includes having a terms and conditions page that’s easily accessible and making it easy for people to contact you. If you have an office or physical address, add that to your website and make sure your domain is secure.
Linking out to authority websites is good as well as is including a citation of your external sources.
Are You A YMYL Page?
You may be wondering if you’re considered a page that’s in the category of “Your Money or Your Life.” Even if you aren’t, you should probably follow E-A-T best practices anyway, but some examples of YMYL pages that really have to adhere to E-A-T include pages that give out legal advice, medical advice and financial advice.
Basically, if your content could potentially affect someone’s wealth, health or happiness you need to follow E-A-T.
You also have to make sure that every part of your site is going to be in-line with E-A-T criteria, at both the page and holistic site level.
A few other tips as far as E-A-T include investing in personal branding so that you come across as an authoritative content creator, eliminating old content that doesn’t meet these quality standards, and investing in security for your site. If you don’t have an SSL certificate, you’re automatically marked as “Not Secure” by Chrome and this can be detrimental to your ratings.
Finally, if you have comments or other user-generated content on your site, moderate it because if it’s low-quality, you can take a hit.