What is E-A-T?
What is E-E-A-T and Why it's Important for Ranking on Google: Google first released its E-A-T acronym in 2018 as part of the Quality Raters Guidelines. The acronym stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and it was released to provide guidance to Google's Quality Raters about the type of content Google wishes to promote in its search results.
Since its release, E-A-T has become an important part of SEO and is considered by many to be a key ranking factor. Google has placed more emphasis on E-A-T to ensure that the quality of content on its search engine is as high as possible. This means that websites need to focus on providing content that is written by experts, is authoritative, and is trustworthy in order to rank well in Google's search results.
Additionally, websites need to make sure they are following Google's guidelines to ensure they are not penalized by the search engine. But not too long ago, Google introduced a new letter to their E-A-T acronym, effectively changing E-A-T to E-E-A-T. And why? Well, most of us SEOs are still trying to figure that out.
As if EATing wasn't already tricky enough, we now have another E to force down our gullets, which by the way, seems to be awfully similar to the original first E in the acronym (or is it the second E 🤔). The newly added E stands for "Experience." And although it seems dangerously similar to the once lonely E (Expertise), Google insists it places emphasis on the writer possessing first-hand "experience" about which they are writing.
Again, it seems like first-hand experience would presumably lead to expertise in any given subject, but I digress. So, what does this mean for us SEOs and content moguls alike? As with all SEO-related questions, we don't really know the answer but will have to make an educated guess. So without further ado, let's jump in.
What is E-E-A-T?
As we previously mentioned, E-E-A-T stands for "Experience," "Expertise," "Authoritativeness," and "Trustworthiness" (I bet you'll memorize those by the time you're done reading this). So now what? As we all know, Google likes to be as vague as possible when it comes to telling us how to rank, but when it comes to this particular acronym, we surprisingly know a lot about what each of the four words means for SEO. Let's break each one down:
Being the newest member of the team, "Experience" tells us something we thought we already knew. In order to demonstrate your expertise, however, Google encourages writers to have "first-hand" experience that pertains to the topic they are writing about. So, for example, if you have never flown a commercial jet from Denver to Malaysia, then Google doesn't think you should be writing about the "5 Fastest Commercial Plane Routes from Denver to Malaysia." Duly noted.
So what does that mean for professional SEOs who have never installed a septic tank but have to write about septic tanks for their plumbing and HVAC client? It means that (according to the new acronym) Google doesn't think you should be writing about this topic.
Now, if we take a step back and digest what that would mean for the SEO world, it is quite nonsensical to suggest that unless you have first-hand experience with a particular topic, then you shouldn't publish an article online. That would literally destroy the entire SEO industry as we know it.
If you couldn't already tell, this is my least favorite letter of the acronym. But, the one positive piece I think we can all extract from this unwanted, newly-adopted sibling is that we should leave the extremely technical and tricky topics to people with real-world experience. By that, I mean I, personally, wouldn't feel as comfortable writing about tips for performing an open-heart surgery as I would writing this blog post.
If we take this letter E with a grain of salt, I feel much more compelled to listen. It seems Google's main intention behind adding this second E is to warn people not to spread false information, rumors, fake news, or whatever else you want to call it because we are already drowning in it, and they can't seem to get a hold of it.
So, to summarize this point, try your best to write about topics that you either a) have first-hand experience with (which is unlikely as an SEO), b) can consider "common knowledge," or c) can consult with an expert to ensure you are only sharing true and informative information.
Now that we've covered "Experience," I feel as though we've also already covered expertise. But in all seriousness, we have. Okay, that was my last passive-aggressive remark, I promise. Anyway, expertise in Google's mind is essentially a demonstration that you "know what you're talking about."
Much like the latter, this piece is a simple concept to understand but can be interpreted in many different ways. But rather than explain each possible interpretation and why it might be valid, let's talk about Google's intended meaning.
Expertise is something that many people possess about particular topics. True. For example, I am an expert when it comes to SEO, and I would consider myself well-versed when it comes to marketing topics. Also true. But, when as an SEO, I find myself writing blog posts for a plethora of companies wildly varying in the subject matter.
When I started this job, I can say that my expertise in epoxy and polyaspartic floor coatings was highly minimal, to put it diplomatically. But, part of the fun of being an SEO is that it's our job to become experts on a lot of different topics so we can help our clients stand out. And even though Google only rewards content that shows expertise, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can't write about a topic immediately unless you are an expert.
But again, writing about something as technical as how Apple silicon chips work should probably be left to someone with expertise on the matter; otherwise, you will be spreading false information. So what is the whole point of having an acronym that people don't follow to a T (Or an E, for that matter)? It's simple: to stop the spread of misinformation.
The biggest takeaway from this letter "E" is that it's perfectly acceptable to write about a topic in which you aren't an expert but can quickly obtain expert information and present it creatively and informatively. As long as you share factual information and can verify your ideas with credible sources, you demonstrate "Expertise" in Google's mind. Now, let's move on to the following two points.
This point is a lot more cut-and-dry than the last two. Authoritativeness refers to the reputation of the author and/or website as a source of credible and reliable information. To put it simply, authoritativeness pertains to how a website compares to other websites regarding its domain authority.
Websites like Academia and Taylor & Francis Online are some of today's most reliable and authoritative online sources. Why? Well, these particular websites focus on academic and peer-review research topics scrutinized by some of the top scholars in the world. But how does reliability relate to authority?
Let's first take a step back to domain authority. Domain authority is a score developed by Moz (formerly known as SEOmoz) that estimates how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). It is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.
Domain authority is significant because it indicates the overall reliability of a website's content. Websites with higher domain authority scores tend to rank better in search engine results and therefore are more likely to be clicked on and visited.
Due to the nature of backlinking and modern SEO practices, websites with higher domain authority scores are more likely to contain accurate and reliable information. This is not a fact but a generally accepted principle in the SEO world.
Regarding Google's "Authoritativeness" ranking factor, domain authority is one of the top quantifiable factors we can use to determine a website's likelihood of ranking for specific topics. Simply put, a website with a higher domain authority will have more authority on google search result pages than websites with a lower domain authority.
So, how does one grow their domain authority? I recommend reading this post about how to grow your domain authority since it is both a science and an art. Since domain authority encompasses several hundred factors, it has become a reliable way to measure the trustworthiness of a website. This leads us to our final point.
"Trustworthiness" is a ranking factor that determines how reliable and trustworthy the content on a website is. Aside from the content being accurate and informative, a significant trust factor is ensuring your website has a secure connection protocol, also known as an SSL certificate.
Websites that use the outdated "http://" web protocol are issued a death sentence concerning ranking on SERPs. Using the more secure and encrypted "https://" protocol has been proven time and time again to play a big part in a website's ability to rank. So please, do not underestimate the importance of that single letter "s."
You may have noticed now that these ranking factors work in tandem with the others. That's no coincidence! To have an authoritative website, you need to exhibit trustworthiness. To exhibit trustworthiness, you need to demonstrate your expertise. And now, to demonstrate your expertise, you must possess first-hand experience (according to Google, of course).
The Bottom Line
Now that we understand what each letter stands for and what each of those words means let's put that into a sizeable piece of information that is easy to digest. As long as you write accurate, informative, meaningful, helpful, and unique content for your website's niche, you will have much success with ranking. You will be rewarded if you practice strong technical SEO and combine those with your thoughtful content efforts.
Now, before you try to sue me for using this information but not seeing your website outrank your competitors right away, this seems like a perfect opportunity for a disclaimer.
SEO is a constant battle. Search engine moguls like Google and Bing constantly change how they rank search results and usually do so without communicating precisely what they change. So as an SEO or someone looking to improve their own SEO, it is imperative to remember that most pieces of information pertaining to SEO are either an opinion or a generally accepted rule of thumb.
So, at some point, hopefully not in the too near future, even this post will become obsolete. But something I've seen remain constant throughout the years of SEO is that people who output high-quality content seem to keep winning. Link building is another area I've seen stay relatively constant, assuming one uses a white-hat approach.
To summarize everything, don't cut corners. Don't publish content that doesn't pertain to your niche, and most of all, don't spread false information. By using these generally accepted rules of thumb and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears, you will only be helping your chances of outranking your competitors.
If that all sounds like a lot more work than you're willing to handle, I implore you to contact us today to learn more about how our team of expert SEOs can help increase your business's visibility.