Improving E-A-T increases traffic. It also futureproofs websites for further Google Quality updates. What is your E-A-T and how can you best optimise it?
What is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. The Google Quality Rater Guidelines lay out a framework for raters to determine the quality of any website. Google’s focus is on the helpfulness of websites for the user. If it doesn’t meet their guidelines, it will indirectly affect their ranking. This means that E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor. However, it informs Google’s algorithm. It is a significant factor in determining the User Experience (UX) of a site.
According to the Quality Rater Guidelines, publishers should keep in mind:
- The expertise of the writer of the MC (main content.)
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
- The trustworthiness of all of the above.
This means that not only does the content have to be helpful and informative, but the background of the writer is taken into account. Do they have the credentials to talk on the topic? This is a really important aspect to take into account. Google considers articles written by people with real-life experiences on the topic the most valuable and helpful.
For this reason, it’s best to have an author bio at the bottom of an article that explains their authority on your niche.
What is a Quality Rating?
Aside from Google’s algorithm, quality ratings for websites are partly determined by human judgement around the world. They are given very specific and thorough guidelines by Google on how to rate a website. The website must be helpful, be an authority on a topic, and not be harmful to the user. This is an effort to combat misinformation and irrelevant or dangerous content.
This is especially important for ‘YMYL’ (Your Money or Your Life) sites. These are medical, financial or legal in nature. As such, these websites are influencing users to make major life decisions. Don’t be so quick to discount yourself if you don’t fall under this category, though.
If you’re selling any product or service, your user needs to trust you before they part with their card details on your site. All of your content, therefore, needs to be accurate and trustworthy.
Addressing low-quality pages
As well as the author's trustworthiness, you can improve your site's quality rating by addressing thin content. Google punishes thin content, so it’s important to know what qualifies content as ‘thin’. This is what Google themselves have to say:
“Purely scraped content, even from high-quality sources, may not provide any added value to your users without additional useful services or content provided by your site; it may also constitute copyright infringement in some cases.”
This could include:
- Splicing together content from various sources on a topic together just for the sake of having content, without adding anything original
- Reposting an article without any original commentary
- Slightly editing other people’s content to feign originality
- Not showing any clear value of using embedding people’s content
Of course, research has to be done for articles. Often, you will need to quote a source (as above). This is integral to good journalism. However, you should be aware of how much original writing you provide in an article. Above all, ensure it’s helpful to the user. If they’re not and they blatantly plagiarise other sites, they could be subject to a manual penalty, wounding your SEO.
The bottom line
E-A-T principles relate to the viewer’s perception of the site and its writers. Ways to improve this perception include author expertise, original content and providing real value to the user.