E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. It is a part of Google’s algorithm.E-A-T is mentioned in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines-a 168-page document that human quality raters use to assess the quality of Google search results. The document was published online in 2013 to help webmasters better understand the factors that Google considers when ranking a web page.
The Importance of E-A-T
The importance of E-A-T depends on the search query. Suppose you are searching for pictures of cute dogs, then E-A-T doesn’t matter much. The topic is subjective and Google’s algorithm may return pictures of dogs you don’t think are cute. No big deal!
However, if someone is trying to find out the correct dosage of aspirin for a pregnant woman, then E-A-T is very important. If Google’s algorithm were to return an article written by an amateur, clueless writer and published on an untrustworthy site that lacks authority, then the probability of the content being inaccurate or misleading is too high. Given the nature of the information being sought in this case, inaccurate information can cause more than just mild inconvenience-it can jeopardize the safety of the person.
E-A-T is also important for topics that can impact a person’s financial stability, happiness, health and stability. Some examples of such topics include, “how to improve my credit score”, “how to save tax?”, “ how to lower blood pressure” Such topics fall in Google’s Your Money Your Life or YMYL category. E-A-T is crucial for sites built around YMYL topics.
How Does Google Evaluate E-A-T?
Though similar, expertise, authority and trustworthiness are nonidentical concepts. Google uses a different set of criteria to independently evaluate them.
Expertise means specialized skills and knowledge acquired through education, training or practice. Google evaluates expertise primarily at the content level, rather than at the website or organizational level. The search engine giant looks for content created by subject matter experts. For YMYL topics, Google assesses the formal expertise, education and qualification of content creators. For example, a cardiologist is more qualified to cover topics related to heart health than a person who has read a few posts on the internet. For non YMYL topics, Google assesses relevant life experiences of content creators. According to Google, some topics require less formal expertise. If a writer demonstrates relevant life experience that makes them an expert on the topic covered, Google won’t penalize them or the webpage if the writer does not have any formal training in the field.
Google believes that everyday expertise is enough to cover non YMYL topics. If, for instance, the query is “what is living with arthritis feels like?” Someone with arthritis will be better placed to answer this query than a doctor. Sometimes Google may prefer YMYL content created by a person with everyday experience. For example, articles and posts posted to blogs and support groups for people with specific diseases.
The authoritativeness of a website or content creator depends on how reputable they or the website is compared to other websites/influencers/experts in the industry. When measuring authority, raters use the web to gain insights into the reputation of the writer or the website. They look for reviews, recommendations by experts, references and articles and blog posts written by users about the person or the website.
Raters should rely on information from independent sources, rather than content written or created by the individual themselves or the website admin’s team. Google considers Wikipedia a good source of information. Raters can find information related to a company’s reputation on Wikipedia.
Remember, authority is a relative concept. While Bill Gates and Microsoft Corp. are authoritative sources of information about operating systems, they have little to no authority when it comes to electric cars.
Some websites and people are uniquely authoritative when it comes to certain topics. For example, the most authoritative source of Metallica 2024 tour dates is Metallica’s official website.
The trustworthiness of a website depends on the legitimacy and accuracy of its content. When evaluating trustworthiness, raters look for a number of things including who is responsible for posting content.
Another factor that raters consider when evaluating the trustworthiness of a website is content accuracy. Factually inaccurate content on a news aggregator website, for example, can hurt its trustworthiness. Admins of news aggregator websites should, therefore, have their content team verify the accuracy of content and also cite trustworthy external sources wherever required before posting content.
If you have a website built around YMYL topics, be sure to mention complete and accurate business contact information. Like authoritativeness, trustworthiness is a relative concept. SEJ is a trustworthy source of information about SEO, not building materials.
Tips to Improve E-A-T
In 2018, Google rolled out its infamous “medic update” to improve its algorithm’s ability to assess the E-A-T of pages. Many of the sites audited lacked E-A-T. As a result, traffic to them dropped considerably. Whether your website was affected by the “medic update” or you want to create a future ready website, follow these tips to improve E-A-T.
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