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What Does EATing Have to Do with SEO?

E-A-T is a way for Google to deliver what users want. And because Google wants it – you should want it. And what is it?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. And while Google is notoriously tight-lipped about specifics, in response to a leaked version making the rounds on the web, Google released their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in its entirety in 2015. In addition to E-A-T, it also includes two other golden keys on how Google looks at web pages and how they evaluate, judge and rank high quality vs low quality content. They are Beneficial Purpose and YMYL (Your Money or Your Life).

You can’t just keyword stuff anymore because it diminishes the user experience. And part of focusing on user experience was also making mobile responsiveness a ranking factor when the majority of people started searching with their phones. HTTPS ranks better than HTTP because Google wants to increase security for searching, and they developed Core Web Vitals (speed metrics) to quantify a fast, seamless user experience.

Noticing a pattern?

E-A-T helps determine credibility. It’s a guideline for evaluating a website and its pages – do they create real value for the user? These guidelines serve as reference for their human search evaluators – the ones who determine how well Google’s algorithm is doing. So it’s also a crucial insight into what Google considers a high-quality web page. These guidelines have been updated several times, most recently in October last year. Algorithm updates have also occurred. 

In the first update, the most significant change was the new emphasis on a concept called Beneficial Purpose. Basically it says a page’s rating determines how well a page achieves its purpose, so the evaluator has to understand the purpose of the page and the website. And “websites and pages should be created to help users.” Not make money. Present false or misleading information. Not be intended to scam. But to be user-centered. Inform. Teach. Cause a user to laugh. Share. Express an opinion. Post questions. Allow users to download software. Sell something.

On the other hand, a page created with the intention to make money “with no attempt to help users” is considered the lowest quality page.

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content is the type of information that, if presented inaccurately, untruthfully, or deceptively, could directly impact the user’s happiness, health, safety, or financial stability. Google takes this content very, very seriously. Experts with relevant expertise need to write YMYL content. This kind of content can include news and current events, government, law and civic-related topics, financial advice, medical advice, information on people of a particular ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, sexuality, etc. and shopping information. There are other YMYL topics, but Google says quality evaluators need to use their judgment to determine if a page qualifies as YMYL content.

Once it is determined that a page has a beneficial purpose, its level of E-A-T is carefully considered in terms of whether the content is YMYL. Non-YMYL content doesn’t require the same rigor as YMYL content.

Just remember that Google considers the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the individual creator of page content, the content itself, and the entire website. In Google’s eyes, a thorough medical article written by an experienced doctor on the Mayo Clinic website is much more valuable than a random blog post dispensing unverified medical advice.

However, in the recently-updated version of the guidelines, Google makes an exception for “everyday expertise.” This means people with relevant life experience in specific topics can be considered experts—no formal training or education required. However, this only holds true for non-YMYL content.

“Authoritativeness” means having generally recognized authority. People know you, know your background, and look to you as a leader in your industry. They accept you as a good source of information.

Trustworthiness: The “Trustworthiness” part of E-A-T also refers to the MC creator, the content, and the website. Being a trustworthy expert and source means people can trust you to provide honest, true information that is accurate.

The guidelines have some specific notes for certain topics that require high E-A-T. Specifically, pages containing the following YMYL content need to have specialized expertise behind them:

  • Medical advice
  • Journalistic news articles
  • Information pages on scientific topics
  • Financial advice, legal advice, and tax advice
  • Advice pages on high-stakes topics (home remodeling, parenting, etc.)
  • Pages on hobbies that require expertise, e.g., photography, playing guitar

There are also some things that you can do to improve your website’s E-A-T:

  • Tell your visitors who you are

You can do this by simply adding an About Us page highlighting the experience and expertise of people behind your company.

  • Generate content authored by experts (and if you don’t have time, find a quality ghostwriter to create it)

Google still wants and prefers content created by subject-matter experts.

  • Be clear about your content’s purpose

Use title and heading tags to make clear what you’re talking about in your content. Don’t write long-form content just for the sake of it. Sometimes, short is sweeter. So be concise.

  • Keep your content up to date

The amount of content created every day is staggering. Because of that, content becomes outdated really fast. So keep in mind that you update your facts, stats to keep up with the changes.

  • Link to other authoritative and high-quality sources

When including backlinks in your content…make sure that you link to authoritative sites that are high-quality. Quality should be valued over quantity. This will help your website establish authority.

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