What is E-A-T in SEO & How to Optimize For It?

Learn How Improving Google’s E-A-T Can Boost the Ranking of your Website

By
Colton Miller

Every search engine optimization (SEO) strategist knows how vital user experience is to the success of their digital marketing campaigns. Even in an industry that values engineers over marketers, it’s almost impossible to have a successful product without users.

Many factors influence website user experience – from page load time and responsiveness to how pages are laid out. But one particular factor in user experience that has become increasingly important for search engines: E-A-T.

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s a ranking system used by search engines to determine the quality of websites that are returned in response to user queries.

E-A-T signals are one of the many factors that Google uses to determine the relevancy of websites in search results. In other words, it indicates how likely your website is to be trusted by users as an accurate and reputable source of information on any given topic.

This blog post will explain what E-A-T is in SEO, why it’s essential, and how you can optimize your website for it.

TL;DR: What is E-A-T & Why is it so Important in SEO?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

When a user inputs a search query, search engines use E-A-T to determine what websites to show on the results page when results are largely similar textually.

E-A-T can significantly impact whether a search engine trusts your website enough to recommend it to users.

E-A-T is a ranking signal used by search engines like Google to determine the topical relevancy of a website/brand entity.

E-A-T is something you should always be working on improving. Several different factors determine your "E-A-T" score. Some are things you can control directly, and some you can’t.

When writing on YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics, focussing on E-A-T is a must! Therefore, these pages must contain the highest levels of E-A-T-related contextual and topical content.

To optimize for E-A-T, you need to work on improving all three areas of your website: your industry expertise, design, and your content.

Jump straight to the E-A-T SEO Checklist section to learn what you need to do to improve your E-A-T scores.

What Does E-A-T Stand For?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

When a user inputs a search query, search engines use E-A-T to determine what websites to show on the results page.

Expertise refers to the amount of knowledge you have about your topic. It’s an indicator of how knowledgeable your content comes across about the topics you are covering, as well as the sources and linked references you are using. The more expertise you have on your topic, the more likely you are to be able to rank well in search results.

Authority refers to the command over a topic in the industry. This is based on many factors, including your website’s usability, editorial policy, and the external reputation of your website. Authority can be dictated by the number of backlinks your website has earned from other sites. If people are linking to your site, they see you as an authority in your space. This also indicates to Google that people trust your site too.

Trustworthiness reflects how accurate the information on your site is, based on how related or similar your content is to other established sources. Trustworthiness results from high-quality content on your site with meaningful curation and good user engagement. It’s also a measure of how well SEO has been cared for and implemented on the site.

E-A-T also considers the time you’ve been in business and how long your website has been around on the interweb. Therefore, if you want to rank highly in search engines for competitive keywords, paying attention to your website’s or brand’s E-A-T signals is essential.

Why You Should Care About E-A-T?

If you’re running a website, you want to rank for as many keyword clusters as best as possible. This is because the more keywords you rank for, the more traffic you’re likely to get.

E-A-T can significantly impact whether a search engine and subsequently a user trusts your website enough to stay on it.

If your website has a low E-A-T value, you run the risk of losing favourability from both search engines and visitors. They might leave your website without consuming your content, clicking on anything, or they might even click on the back button- either way, they’re gone.

If your E-A-T is high enough, you’re likely to keep your visitors on your website through engaging copy and enticing knowledge. Searchers also tend to be more likely to click on the links you have on your pages, which means more engagement and conversions on your site.

Why is E-A-T Important In SEO?

Creating high-quality content is an essential part of SEO. To rank well in Google, you must create content that users can trust and use as a resource. Google rewards websites that benefit and prioritize users, not those that promise a lot but deliver little value or action.

Google analyzes various factors when determining whether a site should rank highly for keywords using its algorithm and artificial intelligence (RankBrain). These factors include linking domains, links going to specific pages, anchor text distribution in links, and so on.

E-A-T is a generalized judgment comprised of dozens of individual ranking factors. Search engines like Google use E-A-T to determine a website's topical relevancy and vertical expertise.

Time and again, Google has favored websites that provide accurate and consistent information with in-depth content which uses trustworthy citations and sources and has several external backlinks.

Is E-A-T an Official Ranking Factor?

While E-A-T is one of the most important ranking factors in SEO, it is not a ranking factor in the traditional sense. E-A-T isn’t something you can “hack” to boost your website’s ranking.

E-A-T is a compounding ranking signal. It’s something that Google and other search engines take both time and several factors together to determine your website’s relevancy. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve your E-A-T score, though. At the same time, there are no directly measurable metrics that can help you find your E-A-T score. However, there are ways to infer and even get a rough sense of how you fair against your competitors.

E-A-T is essential and cannot be ignored.

Your brand’s E-A-T is something you should always be working on improving. Even if you’ve been in business for years and your website has a long history, you should still be trying to improve your E-A-T. Realistically as long as you have a business and digital presence you will always be working on your SEO and your expertise, authority, and trust online.

What Factors Determine E-A-T?

Several temporal and spatial factors determine your E-A-T score regarding your search presence. Some are things you can control, and some you can’t. The notion of E-A-T originally came from Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. These guidelines are a detailed document that human quality raters use to assess the quality of Google search results and develop ranking signals. Think of these guidelines as a set of overarching rules on what you can do to help rank your pages high on SERPs for target keywords.

Google has never publicly disclosed the formula they use to determine the E-A-T of a website. It is clear though that they look at more than just your site's content.

They also examine your website’s design, user experience, website speed, and overall digital presence in the industry within search. Hence ensuring a fast-loading website with a good user experience and core web vital scores across devices is an essential starting point.

An excellent historical presence in search engines is crucial to clear and consistent relevancy in your industry and subject matter. However, business or brand restructuring is often overlooked when it comes to E-A-T, where there is little regard for content retention. This can figuratively throw a wrench into how Google and even users view your brand/business as a subject matter expert and authority.

Google needs to know that you have taken the time and effort to make your website user-friendly, trustworthy, and uniquely valuable. They also want to see that you have a good reputation and relations within the industry surrounding your niche. Therefore, Google has made it clear that they reward sites with good user experience and valuable and actionable content to its readers.

So how does this all relate to E-A-T? The BERT algorithm update is a good reminder of how important it is to create quality content that is meaningful to your audience if you want to rank well in Google search results.

Now more than ever, Google wants webmasters and site owners who create unique and purposeful content for readers. If you can do that, the chances of getting a positive ranking boost are higher than ever before.

E-A-T And YMYL

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) is information that, if presented inaccurately, untruthfully, or deceptively, may directly impact the reader's happiness, health, safety, or financial stability.

As a result, the stakes are high for this type of content. People's lives and livelihoods could be affected if you create content related to a YMYL topic with bad advice or wrong information.

There is a high level of importance and discernment given to this content by Google. YMYL content needs to be written by experts with both experience and authority. Some examples of YMYL content include:

1. Financial recommendations

2. Legal advice

3. Medical diagnoses

If you write YMYL content, you must be an expert in your field. You need to be able to back up your claims. You need to show that you have the necessary experience and expertise. This experience used to be pretty easy to fake or bypass. But with the rise of big data and artificial intelligence, it is quickly becoming something you can’t simply state. You have to have a digital track record of what is being claimed with respect to experience.

If you are writing YMYL content for a website, the website must have a proven track record of providing reliable information on the topic in question. A brand new site with no history is unlikely to rank well for a YMYL topic since this informational legacy is fundamentally missing.

While this type of content is extremely important and valuable, Google will penalize websites that don’t have sufficient E-A-T scores writing in YMYL search spaces. Google’s July 2022 updates to the Quality Reader’s Guidelines provide more context on what classifies as YMYL topics. Read a summary of the updates here.

Thus, when writing on or about YMYL topics, focussing on E-A-T scores is a must!

These pages need to contain the highest levels of thoughtfulness, carefully planned internal/external association, and topical curation. This will help ensure you hit the mark when it comes to showing you are an expert with the proper authority worthy of search and user trust.

This tweet thread from Glenn Gabe helps add clarity and a real-world example of how these E-A-T guidelines can’t be spoofed for faked for YMYL verticals and industries.

How To Improve Your Web Pages For E-A-T SEO?

To optimize for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, you need to work on improving all three areas of your website: content, usability, and external relationships.

1. The content on your site is probably the first place most people tend to start when it comes to E-A-T optimization. After all why not? It is one of the easiest things you can directly affect and have control over. However, most people don’t realize content alone is not the driving force behind what makes it a valuable factor for E-A-T considerations. Instead, the deeper intent, understanding, and eventual action come from the content.

2. Usability within a site is also a focus and is something quite a few businesses work on here and there. Particularly leveraging things like Google’s lighthouse reporting or even Google Search Console performance data. Again, these are fundamental to what usability means but it is still “just scraping the surface” in terms of the deeper application of how usability impacts E-A-T ratings. Usability should focus on solving user problems and helping them take action. Furthermore, doing this effectively means knowing this and likely having the ability to track these micro-actions and moments systematically.

3. Finally, and probably the one portion of E-A-T that is the hardest to conceptualize and put in place is the external relationship between the brand/business and the industry within search. While some may be tempted to think this just means links or even popularity, it truly means the industry's reputation, credibility, and attribution through search and digital sources. This means your customer reviews, the content within blogs written years ago, and the industry-defining recognition all play a part in helping or hurting your search renown. This effectively means you need to put effort into helping your audience, those in your industry, and anyone looking to learn more about the major and minor facets of your brand/company's knowledge set.

Now that we know what areas of your website you need to improve, let us understand how you can improve your E-A-T scores.

E-A-T SEO Checklist

E-A-T SEO Checklist for Websites
E-A-T SEO Checklist for Websites

1. Let Users Know You

Create an About Page on your site that describes who you are as an organization or business and why users should trust what you say over other sources online. If possible, include social proof like reviews, latest achievements, etc. Getting positive reviews will help improve your E-A-T score.

Add an author bio to the bottom of your articles. Try using real users, and writers found in-house and verifiable on external sources like LinkedIn. This will help users determine if they can trust your content.

If you collect personal data from users, make sure you have a privacy policy that explains how you use that data, and what information is collected from users. For a better user experience and trust, give users the ability to opt-out or remove their data if requested. This kind of care and attention to user needs can go a long way to win user and search engine trust.

Make it easy for users to contact you by adding contact information on each page of your site. You can even look at adding some chat or onsite support functionality to give users varied avenues to engage with your brand/company.

2. Keep your Content Fresh & Up-to-Date

Out-of-date content is not just bad for your SERP ratings but also pulls down your E-A-T scores. So make sure your content is up-to-date and that you are regularly adding new content to your site. This is especially true and necessary for industries that see regular or consistent changes (like tech or educational verticals).

Unique content is another factor in your E-A-T score. Make sure you don’t use the same text on multiple web pages. Instead, aim to provide a new, distinct angle to your content. This will make your content stand out from competing and internal pages.

Use short, simple sentences to ensure your content is easy to read. Use bullet points when appropriate to help break up the text and make it easier to read. Where possible, try to make things visual and even consider adding videos. People are visually oriented and can intake loads of information quickly with imagery.

If you’re writing about current events or YMYL topics, ensure your information is accurate and up to date. Also, make sure you take special care to be factual and leverage carefully curated external sources to help back up claims. If these claims are proprietary or produced by the brand/business, having clear evidence is necessary (images, data, verifiable experts, etc.).

Read our guide on how to create E-A-T-friendly content here.

3. Provide In-Depth and Accurate Information

E-A-T is heavily correlated with high-quality content that helps users accomplish actions. A search engine wants to provide the best result possible when a user performs a query, and in return, users want all the information in one place. Thus, ensuring in-depth articles with all the required information on a topic can help bring up your E-A-T ratings.

If necessary, hire experts to write the content for you and make sure you cover every aspect of the topic you are writing about. Include images, videos, and other graphic elements wherever necessary. Don’t forget to do your own vetting of these “experts” if you can’t find someone's credentials and experience, don’t expect search engines to be able to do so either.

Make sure to fact-check your content and provide relevant and necessary citations and links to other articles wherever required. Ensure you cite legit resources. Again, do your homework here to ensure the source is trusted. Asking and verifying a few simple questions here can help determine if a source is legitimate.

1. Does this source rank for topics related to what you are writing about?

2. Do they have a social following or audience that is active?

3. Are they a household or even an industry name? If not, is there a good reason why?

4. Have they recently updated their content or posted anything new?

5. Would you be proud to sponsor them with real-world dollars?

Suppose you find yourself fumbling to answer or humming and hawing over what should be provided. Then there is a good chance you need to find a better source or take another look at the claim being made.

4. Earn More Backlinks

Backlinks directly tell search engines that other sites see you as an expert and authoritative figure on the topic. It generates trust for different search engines and users when they see other sites referring to you or your content.

Getting backlinks from other sites will help increase your E-A-T score. However, it has to be said not just any old link does the trick here. The same questions and critical eye to giving a link should be applied to gaining a link from an external site.

Taking this a step further, you should be naturally working to gain backlinks and citations. Ideally, your content and industry knowledge should be doing 90% of the heavy lifting to garner more external authority. However, there will be times when it makes sense to reach out to an industry site and source to see if there is some cross-benefit to trading content for links or vice versa.

These partnerships are the core basis of how the internet started and will continue to have value for the internet and search for years to come.

5. Create a Strong Brand Association and Image

A positive brand reputation can boost your E-A-T scores. It signals to search engines that you are brand users can trust. Your brand's reputation can have a profound “multiplier effect” regarding your content, usability, notoriety, and external authority.

One of the best ways to improve your brand image is through thought leadership. It can be in the form of a blog post, interview, and/or videos. You want to share insights that are unique and valuable to your users. This can result in positive brand association and possibly lead generation for your brand/business.

Community sponsorship or even cultivation can be huge for some industries and brands. Helping support, increase, and drive an industry's community can go a long way toward building lifelong brand associations and images.

Think about some of your favorite brands; why do you care so much about them? What did they do to garner your trust and favorability? Did they prove, show, or demonstrate something you deeply care for? Chances are they did at some point, and you have been a fan since then. As a brand/business, you should strive to do the same for your users and industry community.

Continually Strive For Better E-A-T

E-A-T is a powerful ranking signal that can help your website rank higher in search engines. When you have good E-A-T, it shows Google that you are an industry figurehead on the topic and that you know what you're talking about. It also makes your content more valuable to users, helping them find exactly what they are looking for. It also helps build brand/business credibility and long-term returning users.

The above tips will help you improve your E-A-T ratings, and in turn, help you rank higher in search engines. Make sure to care for and implement them regularly to see the results and take better care of your users!

About The Author

Colton Miller

Colton Miller is the Sr. SEO Success Manager at Quattr. He has 12 years of experience in selling, servicing, supporting, and strategizing SEO. He has dealt with thousands of sites across hundreds of verticals and has also helped create and define scaled solutions for hundreds of thousands of SMBs and enterprise clients alike. Colton writes about SEO, search engine insights, and algorithm updates. He is always available for questions or comments on Twitter feel free to connect!

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Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

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