What is E-A-T and Why is it Important for SEO?

What is E-A-T and Why is it Important for SEO?

Last Edited September 6, 2019 by Garenne Bigby in Search Engine Optimization

In an ever-evolving world, technology is rapidly advancing, and competition is becoming fiercer than it has ever been. Producing relevant content that shows up in top searches becomes harder and harder. Furthermore, a recent broad core algorithm update has been released and implemented by Google that ensures relevant and highly ranked content is being more readily accessible for users.

This sort of search engine optimization (SEO) profoundly impacts individuals who are trying to bring their online presence to consumers. So, what should you do if you want your content to appeal to a wider audience without it being buried underneath competition or surrounded by the noise of less pertinent competitors?

By fully understanding the components of SEO and Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines, your content can be presented in a way that will earn it high-quality ratings, specifically with a significant weight on E-A-T which stands for “Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness”.


Anatomy of E-A-T

Let’s break down the acronym a little bit more. The “Expertise” portion should come into play with the webmaster or main content creator. Reflect on the purpose of your website. Is it:

  • Selling a certain type of product?

  • Giving out medical expertise?

  • A news or journalist outlet?

  • Selling advice on personal life?

  • A place for hobbies and crafts?

Whatever the reason is for creating your website, you must have a certain level of expertise to give it enough credibility. For example, if a user is looking for some medical information for a question they might have, your site will get a poor ranking if you were someone who had no medical background or qualifications to back up any of the claims of the content displayed on it. Topics like these need formal expertise to get a high E-A-T and Page Quality rating. On the other hand, if you are running something like a baking website, having user-generated content with their own ideas and opinions is perfectly acceptable.

Now, let’s move on to “Authoritativeness”. A website must have a sense of authority from its creator and its content, making users feel as though everything they are reading comes from a place of credibility. This helps build a good reputation. With a good reputation, more users will feel safe with your content and what you aim to achieve. You should not have pages that claim to have one purpose, such as crafts, and have information on something else, such as swimming techniques. The information on your website should stay relevant to your defined purpose and accurate in its facts. Be an expert on your topic—ensure that your pages have no intent to harm or distress, and allow your site to be as useful as it can be to your users. Leave users with no doubt that your expertise and authority come from credible knowledge and sources. With this, you will achieve a good relationship with your audience. It also allows for a step in the right direction towards “Trustworthiness”.

Users need to trust that you are offering something worth using or searching for. Using the other two pillars will allow them to do so when you use them properly. Giving an excellent, authoritative voice in your content and showing excellent knowledge of your expertise paves the way for people to trust your website. This is why having harmful content is strongly advised against as it can harm all three of your pillars, and mostly your users’ trust.

To give an example. If three pillars held up a house and one was to become suddenly weakened, the whole house would come down. It's the same with your E-A-T score, NM, and PQ ratings. If any of these pillars (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) are compromised, your rating will drop.

Let’s now focus on different aspects that will help you keep your website and its E-A-T pillars strong.


Search Quality Rating

In order for you to promote your website, you need to have an understanding of how search results are generated and where your content will fall in a search quality rating. This rating is put in place so that helpful and meaningful results will be given to users who are looking for it. Search quality ratings are based on different characteristics that aid in finding the most useful sites. In order for a page to pop up as a high-quality search, its content needs to reflect upon the user’s requests, right down to their locale and language.

By not fine-tuning your website to fulfill users requests, you might be missing out on a lot of traffic. For example, if a user is looking for a restaurant in English closest to their home, it would be meaningless if the text appears to them in Chinese and is not at all within their proximity. Raters will give lower rankings to those sites that do not meet optimization requests.

Your website must be able to adapt to different browser types, or at least be aware of the limitations in different browsers. If you are using extensions or add-ons to enhance your site, be mindful of how well they work in different environments. You do not want a user trying to open your website’s content on Google Chrome, for example, and find that they can only use Mozilla Firefox to use it.

In addition to this, for search quality ratings as a rater, website ratings may lower or be misleading if you choose to use advertisement blocking extensions or add-ons for Page Quality or Needs Met Rating.


Page Quality Rating

Think back to when you used to take classes and were assigned different projects. In most cases, you were given a rubric to help guide you into creating something most meaningful to your class. It was a sort of outline to set up the foundation of the project. Page Quality Rating, or PQ Rating, acts as a rubric for defining the purpose and efficiency of a webpage.

There are all sorts of different “rubrics” as there are many types of web pages out there, but they are usually made up of URLs and records of observations made upon a grid. Raters view web pages and websites with qualifications surrounding web experience, guideline knowledge, and practice with PQ tasks.


Purpose and Understanding of a Website

As mentioned earlier, there are different elements that will most likely make up a website to make it successful. Whether the purpose of your website is made to advertise products or its goal is to provide useful information to the users, your website should consist of a homepage, subpages, and a webmaster. Your homepage will be the most significant page, as its job is to be the first and most attractive thing a user will see and become the main page of your site. Your subpages will act as supplements to your homepage, and effectively making up the rest of your website. A subpage is any other page that is not serving as your homepage. Finally, a webmaster is one who will oversee your website and perform the necessary maintenance to ensure it runs as smoothly and effectively as possible to put forth a good user experience.

One of the main goals of your website it to accomplish being as helpful as possible to your users in the niche that you serve. Other types of websites are often found on the internet, ranging from harmful site to those looking for money. You want to be able to achieve the highest PQ rating possible to be as successful with SEO. Sites that display pages with harmful deceptive content, and those that solicit money from users without anything in return, generally receive the lowest PQ rating. For this reason, avoid making these types of pages. All pages are scored on how effectively the purpose of the page is achieved.

Website purposes can include:

  • Entertainment

  • Exchange of information through user-generated content

  • Service and product selling

  • Social interaction or blogs

  • Spreading awareness or information about certain topics

  • Expression of perspectives

  • Sharing media

  • Allowing downloads and software to be available to users

Take the time to focus and pinpoint the purpose of your webpages to make sure they come across efficiently. Not doing so will put your website at risk for low PQ ratings. In order to identify your purpose, you should look over your Main Content (MC). Based on your MC, you can make informative and descriptive titles for your website to convey to your users. Your supplementary content (SC) should serve as additives to your main content to help support it, not distract from it. A commonly used form of SC often appears in the form of navigation links leading to another part of a website.

Another form of webpage takes on the form of Your Money Your Life pages, or YMYL. This means that it is up to the user to decide whether the page is safe from them. Examples of these pages include any sort of page that requests personal information such as in shopping or monetary transactions, medical information, legal information or anything that requires the user to input information on themselves and their lives. Because these YMYL pages involve such high risks for the user, they tend to have much harsher or rigorous high PQ rating standards. This safeguards the user against any potential harm or negativity they may encounter on the internet.

Also crucial to your pages is making sure that you identify your advertisements and monetization. Having these may not be a reason for a high or low-quality rating as they might be a way of funding for some websites. However, the webmaster should take into account the way they are displayed and if they interfere with good user experience.

You should be clear as to who is responsible for every page and who is the creator of the website. This will protect your website for copyright reasons, reputation, foundations, brands or high-quality stores, credit to those who display their original content, and business promotions. Be sure to communicate clearly with your users. You may even include pages with contact information, customer service information, and about us pages to help your users reach out to you. This gives your site a sort of credibility and responsibility that will help you earn a high PQ rating.


Overall Page Quality Rating

The basic skeleton of your overall Page Quality rating is split into several factors. By following the criteria of PQ rating “rubrics” your site will be rated on PQ rating tasks, that normally involve a slider style assignment with the category bins. These bins involve Lowest, Low, Medium, High, and Highest. Some scales may involve notations such as Lowest+ which would serve to mean between Lowest and Low.

To ensure your website is up to standard, make sure these guidelines are met:

  • The purpose of the page

  • E-A-T’s Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness

  • The reputation of your website and its webmaster or developer

  • Credibility and quality of the main content

Keeping these factors in mind will guarantee a higher score in overall page quality ratings.


Needs Met Rating Guideline

There is another factor to keep in mind when you create a website. It is called a Needs Met rating (NM). In a world where most things can be done through mobile devices, it is important to find out how well your web pages are adapting to mobile users. Raters will rank your websites based on several criteria, including if your website involves a foreign language, porn, if it did not load correctly, and if it is upsetting or offensive in any way to users.

The Needs Met rating can fall anywhere between fully meeting, highly meeting, moderately meeting, slightly meeting, or failing to meet mobile user needs.  


Creating High-Quality Pages

These pages involve having very high scores of E-A-T. The maintenance of high-quality main content is heavily weighted in rating scales. Evaluations of each element in your main content pick out what is or are not pertinent to the purpose of your page. Those who can keep quality content will end up with the highest scores.

Your website information should be clear and useful for your audience. The “Expertise” in E-A-T should be clear. Whatever the topic of your website is, there needs to be knowledge and authority in it. Writing should be comprehensive, simple to read, and easy to follow. If your purpose is to be informative, then your data should be accurate. If the purpose is selling products or a service, the finding of products, pricing, and transactions should be made as simple as possible for the ease of your consumer. If your purpose is to entertain, then writing should be clear and any videos used should work in harmony with your website.

Websites with the highest quality pages and E-A-T scores are those with high standards—those with credibility, a positive reputation, and high-quality main content. Examples of such websites include, but are not limited to, news outlets such as CNN or BBC, government agency run sites, and medical-based sites to spread awareness and health information.

In summary, your purpose should come across as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Avoiding Low-Quality Page Characteristics

As you can guess, low-quality pages are those with the opposite characteristics of high-quality pages. These pages score low on E-A-T ratings, NM, and PQ ratings. Their main content quality is inadequate. The purpose of the website is unclear, or there is a lack of purpose overall. Their site contains inaccurate or false information and has a negative reputation on their name. The title may be far-fetched, or there is not enough main content to fulfill the purpose of the site. Any advertisements or supplemental content may hinder the main content or acts as a distraction.

Following up on E-A-T, low-quality pages show evident lack of expertise on their topic, therefore, lowering the authority and trustworthiness of the website. Examples of these would be:

  • Medical advice websites from someone who has no medical knowledge

  • Websites with no source of personal or business contact or credibility

  • Authority lost through misinformation such as sites on building shelves with information on baking instead

  • Insecure connection for transaction pages

The lowest possible quality pages would involve pages that could spread hate or harm to users. This would mean pages that promote hatred or violence. They could have dangerous and malicious content and downloads that would bring distress or offend users. Pages that are created with the intent to misinform an audience or deceive them, lowers E-A-T, NM, and PQ scores significantly. There seems to be little to no purpose of their pages, easily hacked, have plagiarized content, their main content may be inaccessible, or their pages are not maintained.

Websites that include content that is directly from a known identifiable source, content that is changed minimally, or content that is copied and paste and then some words changed is considered plagiarized content, and will receive the lowest rating if there is no credit given to respective sources. Deceptive pages that try to trick users in different ways such as: causing users to believe advertisements is their main content, hiding ads within navigation links, or trying to force a user’s hand into clicking links they think are one thing but will lead to something else; all guarantees a drop in ratings and scores.


Strength and Importance of E-A-T

A more natural way to summarize these guidelines so that they can be easily remembered is by condensing the ideas into an acronym—E-A-T. Mentioned beforehand, E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These three pillars should act as your website’s structure. In order to improve your website, you should take into consideration what each of these three words stands for, and the meaning behind each in terms of your web pages.

The impact on how well you incorporate these pillars to your project, the better ratings it will get, and an increased strength of relationship will be added between your website and search engine optimization. By having a high E-A-T score, the more traffic you'll receive as your website will show up higher in search queries.


Website and Creator Credibility

Credibility is defined as a value of trust given to a figure. Without it, your website will not flourish. Precautions must be taken to earn your users’ trust. There are several ways to ensure your website is trustworthy in all aspects.

One way to accomplish this is through a certain level of transparency between you and your audience. You don’t have to give them every single detail about you, but you should establish a common ground between you both. This can take form in your "About Us" pages if you’re trying to put across a mission statement, and letting your users know who they are dealing with. It can display in a customer services page, where you allow your users to reach out to you with questions or comments. It can even be as simple as putting contact information on your website.

This shows your users that you are willing to communicate directly with them and gives them a feeling of safety. It also shows them that there are real people behind the website, and gives them a face to the name of your creation. For example, let’s say you go to a store. In that store, you can buy the product you’re looking for, and when you purchase your item, all the employees at the store have a mask on. Now, compare how you feel in this scenario with one where you go shopping in a "normal" day-to-day store. Which would you feel more comfortable in?

You will most likely pick the one that does not involve people wearing masks. Wearing a mask gives anonymity that makes other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe. This is largely due to the fact that you cannot put a name to a face. There is no credibility or trust to the figure you are dealing or transacting with. This exact feeling is translated to sites in which they have no source of contact or credibility. There is no authority or trust when there is complete and utter anonymity. By opening yourself up, showing a bit of who you are in your creation, people will come to you with their trust by knowing who is the expert behind the content.

One path in opening up trust to your users is to protect sensitive information in all Your Money Your Life pages on your site. In any place in which the user needs to give up personal information like medical history or banking information, they need to feel secure. In addition, this is where experts, beings with authority and credibility skills to back up their content steps in. With a secure site and trusted authority by providing credible information, a better website reputation can be built, and a bigger audience can be made. Combining these ideas will strengthen your platform and give you high-quality rankings to earn higher search engine ranks.


Investing Yourself in Your Creation

With an ever-expanding audience and an increasingly competitive crowd, reputation can make or break your website’s ratings. Websites that involve negative reputation will be rated a low or lowest rating. Raters are often looking to third-party information about websites in order to create a judgment on their scoring. However, if your company is just starting off or is a small business, it might be hard to build yourself a reputation just yet.

Not to worry, while being new and young to the game has not given you a huge reputation, raters will not score you a low or lowest rating based on that. Having a lack of reputation gives raters nothing to base your credibility off of, so it is likely that your competition will outshine you. Because raters depend heavily on third-party information, it is vital that you invest in the promotion of your brand.

Building a reputation will take effort, but exertion that will be worth it. This is your creation, your brand, and with all great things, you need to devote time and effort into its promotion. There are several ways you can reach out and connect with your potential audience. Your goal is to make an impression on them enough so that they can become your third-party reputation. You can take the popular route of using social media profiles to connect with your audience and inform them of your internet presence. You can reach out to people who may be able to influence your audience and help you as well. Trying to find some form of common ground with users is oftentimes a good way to establish the beginnings of a good relationship. You can tell your story to find connections, or you could display forms of E-A-T in real life by using environments trusted by the community as a whole.

Taking the time to do these things will strike well with your audience if done effectively and positively. Once you do your part, it is up to your audience to then leave their opinions on your investments in their own outlets. From there, raters will read over these comments and reviews, draw their conclusions and judgments, and rate your website based on those efforts you have put time into. Remember to believe in your creation, invest in yourself and your brand, and allow for third-party investments to get you high-quality ratings. Being honest with your users, having an in-depth expertise on your topic, showing a clear purpose, and displaying proper credibility will earn you the best ratings for your web pages.


Trimming Out The Fat

While one can choose to be as informative as possible, it is a probable scenario that your website will end up with some low E-A-T content. No to worry though as this can be easily fixed! If you feel that you have low E-A-T content, you should try to either cut or edit them to become higher quality. Leaving them as they are, could cause a low E-A-T, and while one page with some low E-A-T content may not hurt you in a significant way, it may start to eat away at the reputation you tried so hard to build. Most of the time, low traffic pages with low E-A-T content should be scrapped.

More careful steps should be taken when you spot low E-A-T content on more highly trafficked pages. Perhaps that low-quality content is giving you a broader audience on those pages through keywords in them that pick up in search results, or maybe it’s the form they take on that does not bother users too much. If you keep them as they are, it may lead to long-term damage to your site’s reputation. However, in the short run, completely taking it out may cause disruption of flow in heavy trafficked pages and cause your users to dip in numbers.

The best way to handle this situation would be to revise the low content on your page in a way that more effectively serves your purpose. You can achieve this by getting outside expert opinions or using more credible sources to add trust to your content. Generally, it is better to eliminate unnecessary content that can serve as distractions, and reuse the better parts to work to your advantage in a new, more supplemental way.


Technical Security

The internet can be a dangerous place. Scammers, hackers, and threats are woven into the fabric of the world wide web. While you may be new to creating a website that works for you, it leaves you vulnerable to these dangers. You must be prepared to offer you and your users the safest environment possible.

This can take shape in moderators, maintenance, and technical security. Users want to make sure the information linked to them will not be abused once they input it into your site. Insecure connections or invalid certificates will instantly target you for a low E-A-T score.

Some browsers, like Google Chrome, use a program to let their users know if they are on an unsecured site if it does not have a proper SSL certificate or redirect to HTTPS URLs. If a user sees this, they will most likely not go through with their transaction, and your reputation may start to get damaged. If your site is not properly verified, the trust in E-A-T will disappear, and your other pillars can come tumbling down after. Make sure your website has verification badges and secure connections, and you will earn your website a high E-A-T rating. Invest in technical security, and your users will repay you with their loyalty.


Overseeing User-Generated Content

User-generated content is commonly found these days. Platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are all social sites that allow users to create their own projects and share them with others in different types of channels. While this does cut back on the amount of written content those platforms need to provide to fulfill their purpose, it does increase the need for webmasters and moderators to maintain those sites. Company names often get in trouble for not keeping track of those sites that overlook users who post offensive, harmful or upsetting content. Maintenance is a vigorous task that does not get a break. If left unchecked, users may abuse the platform they are using, and your target audience may be left unhappy once they are affected.

There are examples of such events happening. YouTube has gotten in trouble before by letting their top creator, Felix Kjellberg, involve Nazi-related comments in his videos which YouTube had not taken down. A backlash quickly ensued by their users, and YouTube’s reputation has slowly declined since then. Other creators on the site have oftentimes complained of YouTube’s lack of communication between them and the business. These factors all sprout from lack of maintenance and moderators.

More recently, Tumblr has been in the news for a complete revamp of their application and website to remove all adult content from the site. At length, Tumblr has been full of porn-bots infecting the site, and despite user complaints, they have left it unchecked. Due to their app suddenly being withheld from app stores because of inappropriate and illegal adult content on the site, they have elected to ban and remove all explicit content from their site.

These instances arose from faulty determination of user-content appropriateness. Reputations can be destroyed due to users’ content. Accountability is important for the website to take responsibility for the users they allow onto their platform. Be sure to always have a proper number of webmasters or moderators to keep in check your user-generated content.


E-A-T, SEO, Needs Met, and Page Quality dynamic

E-A-T, SEO, NM, and PQ ratings are all deeply connected. They go hand-in-hand to create the best possible rubric for you to base your website on. Disruption on any element may interrupt the website you are trying to build. Achieving the utmost steady balance between the four is the hardest, but the most rewarding part.

While some parts of these elements are dependent on one factor, the others may not be. For example, E-A-T rating is not dependent upon a query. E-A-T is mostly involved with the actual content and results. Needs Met rating, on the other hand, is dependent on the results as well as the query that brought up the result. Focusing and fine-tuning your website to the best result in the most effective culmination of information is reliant on keeping E-A-T, SEO, NM, and PQ ratings in mind at all times. It is important to think of them as a whole, but also you should take the care to understand each part on its own and what it means to your purpose.


Final Words

Search engine optimization has become more intense since the new Google broad core algorithm update. Finding your place and earning your way to better search results will need focus and drive to get you there. E-A-T mindfulness will take you far in making sure your content is relevant and effective. Try to keep your main content and its supplementary content as knowledgeable, credible, and trustworthy as possible to get higher scores. Cut or edit low-quality content and maintain your high-quality ones for a better shot at PQ and NM ratings.

Define your purpose as clearly as you can and understand your website for what it is or about to be. Show your users you have expertise on your topic, and authority on the knowledge you bring to the table. Give them a reason to trust you. Invest in yourself, your reputation, and your technical security. Build your reputation through social media platforms and connect with your potential users. Leave a good enough impact on them so that they leave positive feedback in third-party sites used in rating your website. Use moderators or have a clear maintenance schedule to keep everything updated and satisfactory.

Give your users credits, customer service, or mission statement pages to give them a level of transparency with you. Allow that to form bonds and trust with your consumers. You can further develop that trust by protecting users in Your Money Your Life scenarios. Technical security safeguards both you and your clients from hackers and scammers. It also, in turn, adds to your credibility and reputation. Keep in mind the adaptability and versatility of your website on mobile devices and earn high Needs Met ratings. Strengthen your pillars of E-A-T to hold up your brand. By following these rubrics and guidelines to build your website, you are ensuring your best possible chance at success in your place with SEO.

 

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder of DYNO Mapper and Advisory Committee Representative at the W3C.

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