When Google introduced E-E-A-T— a standard for judging the quality of web pages—in 2014, search engine optimization (SEO) experts wondered if these three letters could crack the code of its famously secret algorithm.
While it didn’t swing open the door, it did offer a peek inside what Google considers when serving up search results. The acronym, which stands for experience, authoritativeness, and trust became E-E-A-T in late 2022, when “experience” was added.
Appearing at the top of search results is a goal for many businesses, and a struggle for small retailers. Creating content that uses the principles of E-E-A-T can help you connect with audiences and give you a better chance of ranking in search engines. Here’s everything you should know about Google E-E-A-T, its impact on search rankings, and how to use it to grow your business.
What is Google E-E-A-T?
Google E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. These are a set of standards found in the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, a document Google employees or third-party raters use to rate page quality (PQ).
During the Search Quality Rating process, real humans provide feedback on search results, which Google then uses to confirm the algorithms it uses to display search results are working correctly. PQ ratings are not direct ranking factors in that they do not directly impact the algorithm, which decides where in the search results a web page appears. Instead, Google uses them to measure the quality of search results based on E-E-A-T and to identify potential bugs in the algorithms. Knowing the individual components of Google E-E-A-T can help you with your SEO marketing.
Experience is when content is based around the firsthand experience of the creator, or others’ life experience. It speaks to users’ growing trust in demonstrated firsthand knowledge of products or solutions. Think product review videos on TikTok and YouTube, a favorite memory or family story on a recipe blog, or case studies and testimonials on a retailer’s website.
According to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, content that is successful in this space is created by people with a wealth of personal experience.
Brands should consider leveraging customers, fans, and influencers to create product reviews, videos, and testimonials. This content could be used on its own or added to product pages to improve trust and improve SEO.
First-hand experience is valuable, but a level of expertise is expected from content creators, especially for topics that can cause significant impact or harm.
What constitutes an expert varies depending on the topic, but content creators should have the necessary knowledge or skill for the subject, according to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines.
Categories that value expertise are called Your Money, Your Life (YMYL), and include health and safety, financial security, and anything that could negatively impact the welfare or well-being of society.
If you publish content in this space, tell your audience about your experience and knowledge on the topic. Not an expert? Interview an expert in the field or hire a fact checker or other industry professional to review your content.
For example, you might interview a board-certified dermatologist for a blog post on skin care and include quotes from them throughout. You could also ask a doctor to review your work before publishing. Incorporating information about who reviewed or fact-checked your article at the top of the post can enhance your credibility.
Authoritativeness comes from being the “go-to” source associated with a topic. Your own website and social media accounts are the go-to sources for information about your brand.
If you want to become an authority for a product category, topic, or topics associated with your industry, you’ll need to prove your knowledge. There are two main ways to build authority around your brand: link-building and topical authority.
Link building refers to the number and quality of websites that link to your website. This tells search engines other people trust your authority in a subject and reference you. Formerly known as PageRank, this is the backbone of Google’s search algorithm, but it can be hard to generate backlinks without appearing spammy or buying them. You should work with trusted influencers who will link back to your website and content to build authority
Another way to become the go-to source for a topic is to produce lots of quality content about it. For example, if you sell date syrup and want to rank for the keyword “date syrup,” you can build topical authority by creating content for all of the keywords related to this product category, such as “what are dates” and “date sugar vs. date syrup.”
Google calls trust the most important member of the E-E-A-T family. For ecommerce businesses, trustworthiness means your online payment is secure, customer service is reliable, and product reviews are honest.
Independent sources should have a favorable opinion of your business, and your content shouldn’t present any conflicts of interest. Independent reviews are valuable and trustworthy, while reviews from an influencer who has been paid to promote a product is untrustworthy because it is a conflict of interest.
All the content on your business website should build trust by being accurate. If you work with content creators, ensure they are identifiable, with experience and authority in your business category.
Instead of paying an influencer to review your product, you could interview them for a blog post or hire them to create content on a topic where they have a strong authority. For example, you could ask a wellness influencer you know uses your product to share their morning routine, which includes their go-to oatmeal recipe, sweetened with your date syrup.
Is Google E-E-A-T important for businesses?
While E-E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, you’ll still need it to create high-quality content that’s well-positioned to rank on the first page of Google. That’s because the principles of E-E-A-T are at play in Google’s ranking algorithms.
As Google continues to release updates to its algorithm, there’s evidence E-E-A-T is still a key focus. Google’s August 2022 helpful content algorithm update indicated creators should consider producing content that provides first-hand experience and in-depth knowledge to users.
Following E-E-A-T means you won’t have to change your SEO strategy every time there’s an algorithm update, since your content is fundamentally aligned with Google’s principles.
Beyond improving your search ranking, these principals are a framework for building up trust in your brand. Being seen as an authority on a topic sets you ahead of your competitors, while incorporating customer experiences through honest product reviews and feedback convinces shoppers to buy quicker.
Leveraging your expertise and aligning yourself with experts your customers know and trust elevates your products in their eyes. Creating content with a foundation in E-E-A-T will help you bring in more customers and convert them quicker.
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Google E-E-A-T FAQ
Can Google E-E-A-T be measured?
Google E-E-A-T cannot be measured. Experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are subjective qualities Google asks its human quality raters to look for when reviewing page quality.
Can a low E-E-A-T score negatively affect my website’s search ranking?
E-E-A-T does not directly affect search rankings. However, there is some overlap between the philosophy behind E-E-A-T and how Google’s algorithms rank pages on the search engine results page (SERP), and producing trustworthy content certainly won’t harm your website.
Does E-E-A-T play a role in Google’s algorithm updates?
Search Quality Ratings (informed by E-E-A-T criteria) play a small, indirect role in Google search algorithm updates by alerting developers to potential bugs and providing “examples of helpful and unhelpful content” for machine learning.
How does Google use E-E-A-T to rank websites?
Google does not use E-E-A-T to rank websites. E-E-A-T is part of the guidelines Google gives to human quality raters, people who check sites for quality to ensure that Google’s algorithms are doing their job. According to Google’s explanation of how it ranks results, aggregated feedback from its search quality evaluation process is used to further refine how its systems discern the quality of information.
How does user-generated content impact E-E-A-T?
User-generated content, including reviews of your business and comments on your blog posts, can impact the perceived trustworthiness of your website. Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines suggest that raters read comments and independent reviews to gauge a site’s reputation.