Why E-E-A-T is Critical for SEO

15 min read
23 Feb 2024
Why E-E-A-T is Critical for SEO

Contents

E-E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, has become one of the most important ranking factors for SEO in recent years. Optimising content for E-E-A-T can lead to better search visibility, more website traffic, increased conversions and overall business growth.

What is EEAT?

E-E-A-T refers to four critical components that Google’s search quality evaluators look for when assessing the quality of a web page

  • Expertise – The knowledge and proficiency demonstrated by the content creator and presented on the page. This includes their credentials, background and firsthand experience with the topic.
  • Experience – The amount of direct, hands-on experience the content creator has with the topic they are covering. Google added this emphasis on experience in their 2022 Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
  • Authoritativeness – How authoritative users perceive the content, creator and site. Traditional sources are recognised industry leaders in their topics.
  • Trustworthiness – The trust users place in the content creator and site. Trust is built through transparency, ethical practices, and fulfilling promises to users (e.g. secure transactions, privacy protections, etc.)

It optimises for E-E-A-T signals to Google that your content meets a high quality, depth and usefulness standard. Pages that rate highly on E-E-A-T can earn better search rankings.

TL;DR

  • E-E-A-T refers to how Google evaluates the quality and credibility of websites and content. High E-E-A-T can improve search rankings.
  • E-E-A-T looks at expertise (author credentials and knowledge), authoritativeness (reputation as an industry leader), and trustworthiness (ethical practices, transparency).
  • Optimizing for E-E-A-T is key for SEO because Google wants to connect users with helpful, credible information.
  • High E-E-A-T helps build loyal users, withstand Google updates, and outrank competitors with lower-quality content.
  • Ways to optimize E-E-A-T include showcasing author expertise, citing reputable sources, writing in-depth content, securing your site, and being transparent.
  • Top sites like The Wirecutter, NerdWallet, and Healthline have successfully leveraged high E-E-A-T to boost rankings and traffic.
  • Common E-E-A-T mistakes include inaccurate content, biased sources, overly promotional tone, and lack of author transparency.
  • Tools like MarketMuse, Grammarly, and SSL Labs can help create high E-E-A-T content and sites.

In summary, optimizing for expertise, authoritativeness and trust should be a core focus of SEO strategies to improve search visibility and user engagement.

Why EEAT Matters for SEO

There are several vital reasons why optimizing for E-E-A-T should be a priority in your SEO strategy:

1. Google Rewards High-Quality Content

Google’s core mission is to connect users with the most helpful, credible information for search queries. Pages demonstrating high expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness better serve users’ needs.

In their Search Quality Rater Guidelines and evaluations, Google clearly states that content quality is critical for page rankings in search results. High E-E-A-T content earns the prime real estate.

2. Builds User Loyalty and engagement

Content that rates highly on E-E-A-T establishes credibility and meets user expectations. This leads to higher user engagement through more time on site, lower bounce rates, increased social shares, repeat visits and better conversion.

Loyal, engaged visitors are critical for sustainable business growth. Focusing on E-E-A-T helps you attract and retain high-quality site traffic.

3. Withstands Google Updates

Paying attention to E-E-A-T can help inoculate sites against fluctuations from Google updates.

Recent updates like the Medic Update and Product Review Update specifically targeted sites with low-quality, untrustworthy content. Areas that invested in better E-E-A-T were less impacted.

Building expertise, experience, and trust safeguard sites against future Google shake-ups.

4. Outranks Competitors

Many sites in competitive niches fail to invest in quality content properly. By focusing on E-E-A-T, you can stand out from the competition.

HubSpot is an excellent example of a site that has built strong E-E-A-T signals through in-depth research reports, credentialed writers, and transparency around their business practices and content strategy. This E-E-A-T advantage has fueled their growth.

Prioritising expertise and trustworthiness gives your content an edge over rivals who cut corners with content quality and depth.

Optimizing For EEAT

Now that we’ve covered why E-E-A-T matters for SEO let’s explore some best practices for optimizing your website and content:

Demonstrate Expertise

There are several ways to showcase expertise on your site:

  • Highlight author credentials – Include author bios that cover relevant background, education, certifications, and firsthand experience related to article topics.
  • Link to authoritative sources – Reference reputable industry sources, academic research and credible media sites to support claims.
  • Show the depth of knowledge – Write long-form, comprehensive content like guides and reports that dive deep into topics. Avoid shallow content.
  • Use visuals to inform – Charts, graphs, diagrams, photos, and videos help demonstrate expertise for users.

Share Firsthand Experiences

Google wants content creators to have direct experience with the topics they cover. Some ideas:

  • Write product reviews based on actually testing and using the product. Include photos.
  • Cover travel destinations from visiting yourself versus aggregating others’ content.
  • Interview industry practitioners about their real-world experiences.
  • Publish video demonstrations of completing a process versus just describing it.

Demonstrate Authoritativeness

Some signals of an authoritative site include:

  • Industry awards and recognition – Feature any noteworthy site/content awards prominently.
  • Media coverage – Share instances of major media outlets referencing your brand or analysis.
  • Influencer endorsements – Promote testimonials from recognized industry leaders and experts.
  • Quality user-generated content – Curate and highlight positive UGC-like reviews and testimonials.

Build User Trust

Key ways to establish trust include:

  • Transparent business info and contact pages – Provide company history, leadership bios, location info and contact forms.
  • Secure site infrastructure – Invest in an SSL certificate and follow site security best practices.
  • Privacy policy and terms pages – Ensure these are easy to access and outline protections.
  • Evidence social proof – Show positive public sentiment through social media follower counts, reviews and testimonials.
  • Adhere to ethical practices – Avoid misleading claims, fake reviews, sensational headlines, etc. that erode trust.

EEAT Examples From Top Sites

To see E-E-A-T in practice, let’s explore a few top-performing sites:

The Wirecutter

The Wirecutter

The Wirecutter, owned by the New York Times, is a highly authoritative site known for its rigorously researched product recommendations. Some E-E-A-T advantages:

  • Deeply researched reports assess dozens of product options based on real-world, hands-on testing.
  • Reviewers detail their direct experience using products for extended periods.
  • Authors are experts in their categories with specialized knowledge.
  • Transparent criteria and methodology for evaluations.
  • References external expert sources frequently.

This focus on expertise, authoritativeness and trust has fueled The Wirecutter’s search visibility and built a loyal audience.

NerdWallet

Personal finance site NerdWallet has grown into a leading industry authority by emphasizing E-E-A-T:

  • Writers have backgrounds in finance, investing and economics from top universities. Bias and credibility policies ensure objectivity.
  • In-depth financial models, data and analysis inform recommendations.
  • Features quotes and data from government agencies, universities and industry experts.
  • Detailed company information, leadership team bios and contact pages build trust.

NerdWallet’s E-E-A-T advantage has earned high search rankings and recognition as users’ most trusted source for financial advice online.

Healthline

As a top health publisher, Healthline prioritises E-E-A-T across their content:

  • The medical team includes dozens of researchers, writers, editors and reviewers with 10+ years of experience in healthcare and science.
  • A certified health professional fact-checks every article. Detailed editorial methodology establishes authoritativeness.
  • Writers frequently cite leading research institutions, clinical studies and government sources.
  • A Medical Advisory Board with renowned healthcare leaders provides oversight.
  • Follows Health On the Net’s (HON) ethical code of conduct for medical sites to support user trust.

This medical focus on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness has led to over 100 million monthly visitors to Healthline.

EEAT Opens SEO Opportunity

By focusing efforts on better optimising for expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, sites can gain an SEO advantage.

Many competitors still under-invest in content quality, depth and transparency.

Sites that direct resources towards building strong E-E-A-T open up SEO opportunities to outperform rivals in competitive spaces. The sites above have done this successfully to become leading publishers.

Prioritising author expertise, hands-on testing, external credibility signals, and user trust leads to better conversion rates and loyalty.

E-E-A-T should be a primary pillar of any effective SEO strategy today. It powers search visibility and user engagement when implemented effectively.

The barriers to entry around high-quality content continue to get harder. E-E-A-T is no longer optional. It’s the standard all sites must meet to gain traction and thrive.

Common mistakes that can negatively impact EEAT

One major mistake sites make is misrepresenting their content creators’ expertise or experience levels. For example, having authors with no background in a complex field like medicine writing articles giving health advice erodes trust and authoritativeness. Authors should have credentials and direct experience related to the topics they cover. Failing to disclose qualifications for offering advice in sensitive areas hurts user trust.

Another frequent error hurting E-E-A-T is poor fact-checking and citing questionable sources. Inaccuracies, false claims, biased citing of sources, and lack of references erode authoritativeness quickly. Content must be thoroughly researched and checked for factual correctness. Sources used should come from reputable, unbiased publications and institutions. Unverified claims and errors indicate the site does not value accuracy or meeting user needs.

Sites also undermine E-E-A-T when content becomes overly promotional rather than aiming to provide the best information and advice to users, and prioritizing selling products over transparency and helpfulness signals misaligned incentives around content quality and user trust. Avoiding excessive hype, disclosing commercial interests, and focusing on comprehensively informing over promoting are key.

Additionally, the lack of transparency around who created content and how recommendations or conclusions were reached makes it very hard for Google and users to assess expertise and authoritativeness levels accurately. Anonymous or ambiguous authorship forces users to trust the brand rather than evaluate individual credentials and processes. Revealing the author’s background and clarifying the research methodology establishes credibility.

Lastly, many sites do not invest enough in security protections around user data privacy and financial transactions, diminishing user trust. Breaches, lack of encryption, and low-security standards make it hard for visitors to trust sites with sensitive information. Investing in site infrastructure and integrity maintains user faith.

The key for sites looking to improve E-E-A-T is ensuring rigorous standards around content quality, depth, accuracy, transparency and security. Shortcutting on these erodes site reputation and visibility over the long run. Sites fulfilling these responsibilities better serve users and gain an edge.

SEO tools that can help optimise EEAT

Tools augment but don’t replace the manual effort to understand and apply Google’s guidelines around expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. They facilitate creating content that demonstrates E-E-A-T quality indicators, which Google rewards. Here are some tools that can help with the process.

MarketMuse and SEMrush

MarketMuse and SEMrush content templates can be handy for guiding the creation of comprehensive, high-quality content that demonstrates expertise. Their frameworks help structure posts to provide in-depth analysis on topics beyond surface-level information. This shows Google and users that authors have deep knowledge.

Writing Tools

Tools like Grammarly, Hemingway App and Quality Score Analyzer help content creators improve their writing quality and formatting. This polishes the content presentation to appear professional, edited, and reader-friendly. Sloppy writing undermines perceptions of expertise. These editing tools fix complex sentences, poor readability, and grammar mistakes.

Copyscape

Additionally, plagiarism checkers like Copyscape are critical for validating that content is original and adequately cites sources used. Copying others’ work or failing to attribute quotes/info to the proper authorities would damage perceptions of authoritativeness. These tools scan content to check for duplicated text found online.

On-page technical audit tools

Site security scanners like SSL Labs identify vulnerabilities related to user data privacy, financial transactions, and infrastructure issues. Fixing these is imperative for maintaining trust in websites for sensitive user information. Google requires sites to be secure to be deemed trustworthy.

Website Plugins

Lastly, author profile plugins allow sites using CMS platforms like WordPress to showcase writer credentials and expertise prominently. Displaying background and qualifications upfront helps users immediately recognize the expertise authors have to cover topics. This transparency is critical for E-E-A-T. You may not need a plugin for this, depending on your site you may be able to just add your author bio within your profile on the WordPress admin.

How Google’s search algorithm evaluates EEAT

Google uses human quality raters to assess pages and sites for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) based on detailed guidelines. These human assessments likely train machine learning models that approximate E-E-A-T scoring at scale.

Specific signals Google may use algorithmically to evaluate E-E-A-T include:

  • The overall quality, depth, accuracy and usefulness of content on a site.
  • Credentials, qualifications and firsthand experience of content creators.
  • Use of reliable, fact-based sources and proper citation practices.
  • The prominence of author/creator bios and publication policies.
  • Secure site infrastructure and ethical business practices.
  • Associations with expert organizations and influencers.
  • Co-occurrences with authoritative sites and sources.
  • References and citations of the site/creator in reputable publications.

So, while E-E-A-T is not a primary ranking factor, optimizing content and sites for expertise, authoritativeness, and trust can improve search visibility. It should be part of your content marketing strategy.

How Does Google Knows If A Person Has Epertise, Experience, Authority and Trust?

Google does not have a specific process that they have discosed. Rather, E-E-A-T is a concept that is part of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, which are used to train human quality raters on how to evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of web pages.

Some potential ways Google could evaluate E-E-A-T include:

  • Analyzing the expertise level of the content creator based on their credentials, qualifications, and experience with the topic.
  • Evaluating the authoritativeness of the content creator and publication through editorial processes, fact checking, etc.
  • Assessing trust signals like website reputation, transparency of ownership, absence of misleading information or intent.
  • Looking for markers of first-hand experience with a product or service shared in the content.

So in summary, Google does not directly score E-E-A-T for people. But it uses E-E-A-T concepts to guide its algorithms towards understanding signals of expertise, authoritativeness, experience and trustworthiness in assessing content and websites.

Can you tick Google into thinking you are an expert when you aren’t?

This will be the first thing marketers will look into and ruin!

Google cannot easily be tricked into thinking someone is an expert or authority on a topic. Google uses sophisticated algorithms and signals to determine authority and expertise, not just simple metrics like backlinks or social shares. Here are some ways Google tries to detect true expertise:

  • Analyse the content itself – Does the content demonstrate in-depth knowledge, up-to-date information, and expertise on a topic? Is it well-written, comprehensive, and insightful?
  • Evaluate backlinks – Authoritative sites are more likely to be linked to by other authoritative sites on that topic. The quality and relevance of backlinks matter.
  • Examines real-world recognition – Metrics like press mentions, academic citations, industry awards, and other real-world verification of expertise can be detected.
  • Considers user engagement – Pages and sites users spend much time on, interact with, and return to tend to be more authoritative regularly.
  • Detects attempts to manipulate signals – Buying links or manipulating metrics too aggressively can get sites penalized rather than rewarded.
  • It uses machine learning – algorithms improve at detecting true expertise over time as they process more data points and learn to weigh signals appropriately.

So, while no single metric determines authority, Google uses a holistic approach to detect true expertise. Manipulating just one or two factors is unlikely to fool Google for long. The best way to demonstrate authority is actually to be authoritative – publish high-quality, in-depth content that earns trust and engagement over time.

How will SGE affect EEAT?

It’s still early to determine the full impact of Google’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE) on E-E-A-T principles. However, some initial implications can be gleaned from the available information:

  1. Overall, the quality and accuracy of SGE responses will be critical. As the new interface between searchers and results, SGE must uphold high standards of trust and depth to maintain user confidence.
  2. Sites referenced within SGE could gain indirect E-E-A-T signals. Being frequently cited by an authoritative source like SGE may boost perceptions of site expertise and authoritativeness.
  3. Production quality and presentation may emerge as new E-E-A-T-like signals. With SGE displaying rich results, well-designed visuals, transparent data formats and compelling writing could indicate quality.
  4. Secure, ethical practices remain imperative. User trust in sites will still depend heavily on data protection and transparent operations, regardless of SGE.

In summary, SGE has the potential to shift some E-E-A-T dynamics while introducing new quality indicators for Google to evaluate. But the core principles of providing expertise, transparency and value to searchers will undoubtedly remain necessary for success. Sites investing in thoughtful content and user experience should sustain relevance in organic results and SGE integration.

Conclusion

That was a lot to take in. I hope you have taken something from this article. One thing to focus on is your content marketing strategy, if you aren’t already publishing high quality content that displays the values highlighted in the article then you should start as soon as you can.

Need help with your marketing strategy? Get a free proposal and strategy at Contactora.

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Written By
Adam
Adam is the founder of Contactora and chief strategist. Having worked in Digital marketing for over 10 years and in SEO for 7+ years he has gain a wealth of knowledge and insights.
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