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SEO 27 min read

What Is E-A-T and Why It's Important For SEO

What Is E-A-T and Why It's Important For SEO
What Is E-A-T and Why It's Important For SEO
Joseph S. Kahn
Joseph S. Kahn
President of Hum JAM
Google changes the game rules for SEO every day. From time to time, these changes have a disruptive character. One of these major changes took place in 2018 when Google draw attention to E-A-T as a new principle to evaluate web pages.

In this article, we will dive deeper into this question and discuss the impact of E-A-T on SEO with some experts who participated in our Twitter Chat
Olena Prokhoda
Social Media and Community Specialist
at Serpstat
Joseph S. Kahn
President
of Hum JAM
Bill Slawski
Director of SEO Research
at Go Fish Digital
Jeannie Hill
Marketing Consultant
at Hill Web Business
Lyndon NA
Internet business consultant, (SEM (SEO/PPC), CM & SMM, with UX, CRO & ORM)
Remco Tensen
Digital Marketing Consultant & Founder
at RemcoTensen.nl
Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR
Chief Executive Officer
at Holistic SEO & Digital
Ekaterina Hordiienko
Pre Middle Research Editor
at Serpstat
Yıldırım Sertbaş
Founder & Owner
at Yıldırım Sertbaş

1. What Is E-A-T?

1.1 E-A-T: A Focus In Google's Quality Rater Guidelines

Almost every day, Google rolls out new updates to the algorithm responsible for compiling the search results. What these updates are aimed at has been outlined in the so-called Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG).

A team of about 10,000 Quality Raters is hired by Google to continuously classify thousands of websites according to the Quality Rater Guidelines' criteria. With this data, Google can review whether the search results have improved, i.e., whether the listed pages with keywords are ranked in correlation to the Quality Rater Guidelines criteria.
Google has indicated that its raters help Google Search measure how well its systems are working to deliver great content. As much talk as there is in our community, for Google, the focus is not on "rankings."
Jeannie Hill
Jeannie Hill
Marketing Consultant at Hill Web Business
Google spokespeople are quick to state that there are many algorithms Google uses to measure search quality, and that may be the SERPs that Google may want to query responses to rank for the best.
Bill Slawski
Bill Slawski
Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital
For reasons of transparency, Google has been publishing the guidelines since 2013.

In 2018 for the first time, a version was published that intensively describes quality criteria based on the E-A-T principle. This was followed in August 2018 by a Google Core Update, which caused strong fluctuations in search results in the medical field. Although far more than just pages with a medical character were affected, the update was called "Medic Update" by the SEO branch at that time.

How to Prepare Healthcare Sites For Google's Page Experience Update

Further Core Updates followed quarterly, which had significant impacts. Looking back over all these updates, it is evident that these changes are strongly related to the E-A-T principle described in the Quality Rater Guidelines. Not all industries will be affected to the same extent in the future.

Nevertheless, most site operators will not avoid this issue if they want to benefit from valuable search engine traffic in the future.
Google has changed considerably since the days when you could appear in SERP overnight. Sadly, I miss that time.

Now, if you want to rank well on Google, you need to build your brand's expertise, authority, and trust. You should always take it into account!
Olena Prokhoda
Olena Prokhoda
Social Media and Community Specialist at Serpstat
This concept has to be taken into account when promoting a site and boosting its results.
And what's hilarious is that we "can't give everything away" — we have a "harmonic EAT formula" that we believe contains the right set of signals important to them in this category... and it worked when tested.

As it can't be defined, I believe we can put it on a checklist and be fairly accurate with what we think Google wants ... we are smart #SEO's! LOL!
Joseph S. Kahn
Joseph S. Kahn
President of Hum JAM

How to Improve Your Google Rankings Without Getting Penalized

1.2 What Does E-A-T Stand For?

So let's take a closer look at what Google understands by the E-A-T principle.
E-A-T is the abbreviation for three central terms: Expertise - Authoritativeness - Trustworthiness.
1
Expertise is used to describe the qualitative level of content. It is important to note that Google focuses primarily on the author and not on the organization itself.

Depending on the topic, formal quality criteria are more or less important. Topics that significantly influence health, legal, or financial aspects of life require expertise from Google's point of view, which can be formally proven by qualification and training.

  • Google describes these topics as YMYL — your money, your life:
"Formal expertise is important for YMYL topics such as medical, financial, or legal advice. ", QRG, p. 26.

  • Nevertheless, practical life experience is not ignored. This is especially important beyond the YMYL pages:
"If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an "expert" on the topic, we will value this "everyday expertise" and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having "formal" education or training in the field. ", QRG, p. 20.

  • Google even considers personal experiences if these correspond to the search intent:
"For example, there are forums and support pages for people with specific diseases. Sharing personal experience is a form of everyday expertise ", QRG, p. 20.
2
Authoritativeness means primarily "reputation". With this perspective in mind, the Quality Raters should consider the entire website and the particular author of the content.

"Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website […] Look for information written by a person, not statistics or other machine-compiled information. News articles, Wikipedia articles, blog posts, magazine articles, forum discussions, and ratings from independent organizations can all be sources of reputation information. Look for independent, credible sources of information."

The more independent voices are added up, the more an author is seen as an expert on other sites. The more positive reviews for good experiences with a company are reported, the higher the level of expertise is considered.

As in link building, the relevant context is decisive here. Expertise must be proven for those topics that a website should be listed in the Google search results.
3
Trustworthiness sheds light on the credibility of a website. Google makes a strong connection with transparency: does it become clear who is responsible for the content? Is there a way to contact a supporter if problems arise, for example, in financial transactions? Are these contacts easy to find? Is there a telephone number to solve a problem very quickly?

  • YMYL sites must also meet higher requirements than private websites:
"However, the amount of information needed about the website or creator of the MC depends on the purpose of the page. For personal websites or non-YMYL forum discussions, an email address or social media link alone may be sufficient," QRG, p. 35.

Furthermore, the correctness of statements is contributing to credibility. If false statements or unreasonable objections against an established consensus of other experts are accumulated, the trustworthiness of content decreases.
A nice summary from Google was noticed: "More specifically, high-quality information is content which demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a topic, or E-A-T for short."
Jeannie Hill
Jeannie Hill
Marketing Consultant at Hill Web Business
As it pertains to SEO, I feel Trust is more accurate than Truthfulness. Unless I missed the memo and Google uses factual accuracy as a ranking factor now? Trust is, "would I give my credit card to this site." Does that concern different elements from truthfulness?

I don't see how truthfulness as a factor could ever not be a legal risk to Google. And the reality for the most part is dynamic as hell. Truth finding is a constant process, more than a list of facts.
Remco Tensen
Remco Tensen
Digital Marketing Consultant & Founder at RemcoTensen.nl
And what are your thoughts on the issue of the E-A-T concept?
Looking forward to seeing you in our next Twitter chat!

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We conduct them every Thursday at 2 pm ET | 11 am PT on our Twitter channel by hashtag #serpstat_chat.

2. The Impact of E-A-T On SEO

2.1 E-A-T as a Ranking Factor

As described at the beginning, several algorithm updates re-sorted the search results under the E-A-T principle. However, there is neither a concrete E-A-T algorithm nor a kind of E-A-T score for a website. This was revealed by Gary Illyes, as documented by an attentive listener:
“EAT and YMYL are concepts introduced for Quality Raters to dumb down algorithm concepts. They are not ‘scores’ used by Google internally.“

Followup: There is no EAT algorithm.
Grant Simmons
Grant Simmons
SEO Strategist/Consultant & Founder at GrantSimmons.com
Danny Sullivan confirmed this one day later in another tweet: "There is no single metric, but rather many signals by which expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are determined. Altogether, these naturally influence how search result pages are put together".
Is E-A-T a ranking factor? No, if you mean there's some technical thing like with speed that we can measure directly.

We do use a variety of signals as a proxy to tell if the content seems to match E-A-T as humans would assess it. In that regard, yeah, it's a ranking factor.

It's almost like we look for signals that align with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. We should give that an acronym like E-A-T and maybe suggest people aim for this. Oh wait, we did :)
Danny Sullivan
Danny Sullivan
It's important to note that E-A-T is a concept, not a ranking factor. It can be a very high signal.
Yıldırım Sertbaş
Yıldırım Sertbaş
Founder & Owner at Yıldırım Sertbaş
Technically, EAT has no direct relation to SERP Rankings. It's a system of assessment for checking algorithm changes and/or changes to the weightings of signals/ranking factors.

But there are overlaps between some of the things that the GQRs look at and the signals/features that G uses as factors.

Things like Bio Links etc., Google does not have a specific system or different handling of those links, but it does use links.
Lyndon NA
Lyndon NA
Internet business consultant, (SEM (SEO/PPC), CM & SMM, with UX, CRO & ORM)

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2.2 How Does E-A-T Influence Google Results?

It is unknown which signals in total are used to determine expertise, authority, and trust. But it is important to understand how the results of the Quality Rater team affect the search results.

Let's see the insights that were published in one of the Google articles:
"It's important to note that this rating does not directly impact how this page or site ranks in Search. […] Instead, ratings are a data point that, when taken in aggregate, helps us measure how well our systems are working to deliver great content that's aligned with how people — across the country and around the world — evaluate information."
Google also tirelessly emphasizes that E-A-T is not something that can be optimized quickly. Quality and reputation cannot be improved overnight.

Nevertheless, it is possible to work towards a new form of public relation and presentation. If the Quality Rater Guidelines describe the main mission that Google is working towards, then it makes sense to base all SEO measures on these quality guidelines.

It is possible to start with small steps: existing expertise has to be highlighted and transparency about the site operator and authors in the background has to be established.
Not a ranking factor. It is a standardization of many sub-parts of Google's quality assessment processes and algorithms.

E-A-T is a communication term with quality raters to let them evaluate a source in their own personal metrics.
Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR
Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR

3. How to Optimize E-A-T From an SEO Perspective?

3.1 Short-Term Measures

In the short term, the following measures can be considered:
1
Outline who the person or team behind the page is

For the E-A-T principle, it is essential that it is clear who is running the site. An imprint is a minimum, which in some countries worldwide is already a legal requirement. It is better if there is also an informative About Us page and structured data is used to make information available in machine-readable form.
2
Show which experts write for you

Pages containing substantial information should mention a specific author. This author should also be identified within the structured data. Ideally, an author box should link to an author detail page. This page should provide further information about the author's experience and qualifications that enable him or her to give advice. If the author maintains social profiles, these should also be linked. Structured data can be used to store all information in machine-readable form.
3
Establish contact options

If the website is dealing with YMYL topics, there should be telephone contact options in addition to an email and postal address. Ideally, the telephone number should be clearly visible on each page and also be marked with structured data.
4
Invite experts to write content for you

If no experts are working in your own company or if there is a lack of reputation, it is legitimate to cooperate with experts. For example, experts can be recruited to publish guest articles on your own website. Freelance journalists with expertise in a certain range of topics can also be engaged.
Let's see what our experts' think in this regard:
To start, I'd choose the following:

1. Contribute to smaller publications. But make sure you choose blogs with authority and create great content to establish yourself as an expert.
2. Find an author whose authority is high and ask them to write for your blog.
Olena Prokhoda
Olena Prokhoda
Social Media and Community Specialist at Serpstat
I'd make sure the author boxes point to the right places for your entity. So many times the author boxes are incorrect and do not help their Expertise factor.

You need the connection of the entity. Those author boxes need to point to all social profiles and would recommend a bio link that links out to all of your sites for node connections.
Joseph S. Kahn
Joseph S. Kahn
President of Hum JAM
As "expertise" is part of EAT and the GQR and not a specific part of the algo — it's difficult to associate. That said — you can follow common-sense and established "expertise" measurement systems.

Correctness of content:
  • avoid misspellings/typographic mistakes;
  • don't include falsehoods/erroneous information.

Term coverage:
  • use words/terms/phrases that are commonly associated with the topic/subject — incluse "entities" (names, places, etc.)

Reference sources:
  • add citations to relevant and established/trusted sources — you may be perceived as more knowledgeable.

Citations:
  • try to be seen as a reliable/trusted source, inbound links may be seen as indicating expertise;
  • create snippets of content quoted could potentially do similar? (Overlaps with Authority?)

But it's all guesswork.

Other systems look at things like the presence on platforms, answer to question ratios, duration of the activity, the number of answers per period, any "votes" or approvals (or disapprovals), appearance on trusted sites/publications, qualifications, etc.
Lyndon NA
Lyndon NA
Internet business consultant, (SEM (SEO/PPC), CM & SMM, with UX, CRO & ORM)
  • Exist on other websites as the main content creator.
  • Have a consistent definition with the positive sentiment on the surface of the web.
  • Create Information Gap.
  • Use unique visuals and styles of content.
  • Use badges, certificates, years of experience, and news.
Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR
Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR

3.2 Long-Term Measures

In addition to these short-term measures, it is necessary to work towards the status of an authority in the long run. The focus should be on the following:
1
Increase your reviews

The Quality Rater Guidelines emphasize the importance of reviews. In the long term, it should be ensured that there are more and mainly positive evaluations. It is forbidden to incentivize evaluations, i.e. to combine them with something in return.

However, depending on the business model, it is possible to invite customers to write reviews in the after-sales process. Positive business relationships deserve a "thank you", which can be combined with a little attention and an invitation to write a review. Who could decline to give feedback at this moment?

Negative reviews should be reduced by paying attention to a customer-centered service that takes criticism as free advice and reacts to it with optimization measures.
2
Build up reputation and mentions

Both for the website and for the authors themselves, a reputation should be permanently worked on. The most important means for this is the generation of links and mentions. This requires a profiled corporate identity and a good network.

Both can be addressed through clear marketing messages and participation in professional discourse at trade fairs, conferences, and industry events, and in the digital area through interviews, guest post articles, and much more.
If we talk about a link-building strategy, the first step you have to focus on is carrying out a comprehensive analysis of the backlink profile. Serpstat Competitor Backlink Analysis Tool is one of the tools you may try to use for such purposes:

  • check website backlinks and get relevant ones from authority sites that are critical for higher search engine rankings;
  • look up the sources of your competitors and gauge the quality of their backlink profiles;
  • monitor your site backlink health and strategize on your link-building campaign with Serpstat.
I'd consider 4 points:

  1. Provide links to reputable sites.
  2. Get links from authoritative websites.
  3. Ensure a great user experience.
  4. Establish your brand and drive traffic with social media.
Olena Prokhoda
Olena Prokhoda
Social Media and Community Specialist at Serpstat
The best way is to create amazing content that answers questions in the correct way. Moreover, I think that interacting with influencers in the social world gives credibility and positive signals to Google :)
Joseph S. Kahn
Joseph S. Kahn
President of Hum JAM
I guess that the best way is to create content for people, but not for the search engine.

In case visitors find relevant content, which resonates with their needs, they will spend more time on your website and promote it to friends. This factor rocks for Google!
Ekaterina Hordiienko
Ekaterina Hordiienko
Pre Middle Research Editor at Serpstat
Of the 3 aspects, Authority may be the easiest one to associate ... as G has referenced links as a signal of Authority for years and years.

But as with Expertise, we can look around. Aside from links, there are established/suggested methods for identifying measuring authority — we do it socially all the time!
  • Trusted sources: appearing on, and/or receiving links from noted/reputable sources may count more than others.
  • Longevity: are there mentions, quotes, citations, and/or links dating over time? Is there a degree of consistency?
  • Consistency: is there a history of topical content from that source?
  • Prominence: does that person get to present, appear on panels, etc.?
But, as with Expertise — it's all guessing/estimating, (though pretty confident on the "links" angle :D).
Lyndon NA
Lyndon NA
Internet business consultant, (SEM (SEO/PPC), CM & SMM, with UX, CRO & ORM)
Google has come up with a number of ways for one search to show trust for a site owner/writer, such as following reviews in Google Custom Search engines.
Bill Slawski
Bill Slawski
Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital

How to Set Up the Monitoring of Brand Mentions Online

Conclusion

As Google has already stated, these factors cannot be optimized in the shortest possible time. As a rule, however, every company is based on a large pool of expertise.

The major challenge is to make this expertise visible to the world outside. Whoever accepts this challenge will gain a decisive competitive advantage in the future and be successful in organic search in the long term.
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