I know, I know, I know. It’s been said so many times before on this blog that it’s almost becoming cliche. If you live by the Google, you’ll die by the Google. This is true, of course, because if you rely completely on the search engine to deliver traffic to your website, you’ll always be at the mercy of the algorithm. It could all disappear overnight. At the same time, it’s also undeniable that Google can be a tremendous source of traffic and you’d be foolish to overlook it.
When most people think about search engine optimization (SEO), their attention shifts to considerations like site structure, keyword density and backlinks. However, Google is placing an increasingly high amount of emphasis on reputation. Remember that we live in the reputation age now, so *who* said something is arguably even more important than *what* was said.
The so-called E-A-T algorithm features prominently in the evaluator guidelines distributed to Google’s Search Quality Rater team members. And it breaks down how Google wants these raters to perceive the reputation of content creators, which in turns has a dramatic impact on search rankings. You can have the best content on the web, but if you lack a strong E-A-T rating, your post probably won’t rank for your target keywords.
The “E” in E-A-T stands for expertise. In other words, Google is interested in how knowledgeable the content creator is on the subject matter being discussed. This is an important distinction. Just because you’re especially knowledgeable about Internet marketing, for example, doesn’t mean that you’ll be equally respected when you write about your favorite restaurants in Orange County. The E-A-T rating is especially crucial in what Google calls YMYL topics. That stands for Your Money or Your Life.
For example, the expertise of the author carries a particular amount of weight when the article covers a medical topic. Ideally, Google would like this person to have official medical training, like a nurse or a doctor. This person should have more expertise than some other random blogger. How they determine expertise varies between circumstances, of course. An established food blogger may be dubbed a suitable expert for a restaurant review, based on past writing and experience.
The “A” in E-A-T stands for authoritativeness. Or simply “authority,” if you prefer. This factor looks into whether the content creator is a recognized authority on the topic, as well as how credible the website is where the content is published. This taps into your social currency, for instance. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to establish yourself as a go-to expert in your niche or industry.
And this is yet another reason why it’s so important that your blog, generally speaking, provides bylines and even author boxes for every post that gets published. Recognized authorities, like The New York Times, will generally be given preferential treatment in the search rankings. If we use the example of the food blogger above, he or she may have a lot of expertise, but if there is little to no record of previous restaurant reviews, he or she can hardly be regarded as a respected authority in the field.
If that restaurant review gets published on some random blog, it may get overlooked. If that same review shows up on Eater, it has a better shot at getting ranked.
And finally, the “T” in E-A-T stands for trustworthiness. Google raters look at how trustworthy is the website where the article is published, as well as the perceived trustworthiness of the author. This is part of the reason why getting an SSL certificate for your website is not only beneficial from a security standpoint, but also from an SEO perspective. If the website links to malicious files or potentially harmful websites, that will demote the perceived level of trust too.
For the author, they may look to public opinion as one source of whether the writer should be trusted. Maybe the writer has education and experience, and the site has a good authority rating, but this author has also been discredited by the online community in some way. If so, the article could be bumped further down the SERPs as a result.
Improve Your Google E-A-T Rating
As with everything else to do with Google and search engine optimization, managing your E-A-T rating is a bit of an inexact science, shrouded in mystery and confusion. Even so, there are several tips and tactics you can employ to improve your E-A-T score (even if you never actually see it). Search Engine Journal has a list of several such strategies.
Do you pay attention to your online reputation? How carefully do you monitor social mentions? How well are you portraying your expertise and authoritativeness on your blog?