Did you know Google ranks content and websites not just through bots and crawlers, but also third-party Search Quality Raters? Google even published an extensive set of guidelines for these raters, explaining what they should pay attention to when rating content. Today, I want to show you one such set of guidelines known as Google E-A-T. And the fact is, it can be a true game-changer concerning the way you write and publish content online!
To understand what Google E-A-T is about, you have to know how Google works. The main goal of this search engine is to provide users with high-quality, useful results. This is true regardless of any changes in the search algorithms. It’s in Google’s best interest to show results people want to click. And such results are usually delivered by people who are experts in their fields, people who write from experience and share valuable, practical knowledge. And that’s, more or less, what Google E-A-T is all about.
What is Google E-A-T?
This abbreviation stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust. Google looks for these three elements in every piece of content they index, especially when it comes to blog posts, white papers, reports, e-books, and other long-form pieces of content. The reason is apparent – Google thinks (and rightfully so!) that people should learn and take advice from real experts, people who are likely to have more knowledge (ideally tested in practice) than them on a given subject. At least, that’s the theory, but it makes sense, doesn’t it?
To show you what I’m talking about here, let’s use a simple example. Suppose you want to open an online store and learn more about e-commerce. Who (and whose advice) would you trust more?
- Richard Lazazerra from A Better Lemonade Stand, who used to work for Shopify and now runs one of the most comprehensive online resources and most active communities of 250k+ e-commerce entrepreneurs in the world
- Some random blogger with no proven history, no case studies, no track of career, or any experience whatsoever?
I think the answer is obvious. You want to learn things that are valuable and have the potential to make your life/work easier or more effective.
So how do you know a given source of information is trustworthy? Be in no doubt; Google has the answer!
Google E-A-T: Three pillars of successful content
Google had to come up with a relatively quick and easy way of verifying whether a given piece of content is trustworthy. And E-A-T is the result of their work. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three elements composing this framework.
This element is all about the author. Is he or she a renowned expert? What are their education and experience? Have they won any awards? Do they have any certifications or special competencies? What do their LinkedIn profiles tell about them? Are these people we can generally call experts?
Here, Google takes the bigger picture into consideration. Does your overall legacy show that you have the authority to talk about a given subject? Major elements to consider are:
- The whole website
- Social media profiles (especially LinkedIn for B2B audiences)
- Other articles you have published in the past
- Backlinks, shares and mentions that your content gets
Are you and your website trustworthy? Do you publish reliable and verified information? Do your texts have sources (and reliable ones, for that matter)? Do they mention market research or reports? Is the advice you share in line with general knowledge and common sense? Is your website safe (think SSL certificate) and easy to use? Do you communicate with your audiences and respond to reviews you receive?
Perhaps you see that these elements have much in common; one could even say that, more or less, they are about the same thing – whether you are perceived as a trustworthy, experienced expert. And that’s the essence of Google E-A-T.
A fourth component (E-E-A-T)
Interestingly, recently Google decided to add a fourth component to this framework, and now, we have E-E-A-T. This additional E stands for experience. Google explains that expertise concentrates mostly on the “necessary knowledge or skill for the topic“, whereas experience is all about “first-hand or life experience for the topic“.
All these components have but one goal – building trust. Google wants to show its users articles, posts, and websites containing safe, reliable and trustworthy information and data.
Do you want to write successful content? Then your goal should be to create it in full compliance with Google E-A-T. Let’s see how you can do so.
How to write in compliance with Google E-A-T: Best practices
For starters, all the text you publish on your website and social media profiles should be verified and well-researched. This means no copy-paste, no blind repeating of what others say.
You should write from your real-life experience and knowledge. And, above all, always keep one priority – your readers’ needs. Write texts and posts that are practical and useful.
Avoid any forms and types of controversial or questionable suggestions, especially if you run a so-called YMYL website (this term includes all websites that offer content that may have a real impact on the health, well-being, or happiness of their readers). Google consequently avoids search results that can be potentially harmful or even dangerous to readers, so steer clear of all that stuff.
As I mentioned earlier, Google E-A-T is not only about the content. It’s also about the author. Your texts should be written by real people (so not AI, but more about that in a minute) with the necessary knowledge, experience, and, in a perfect scenario, recognition. That’s why I talked about in the intro to this post – that’s who you want to learn from.
We trust scientists when it comes to science, doctors when it comes to health, and lawyers when it comes to legal matters (at least in theory). Google also thinks this way and tries to marginalize the role of amateur, homegrown “specialists” who promote dubious solutions and treatment methods, especially if they are potentially harmful.
Lastly, take care to update and verify your content regularly, especially when you mention a market study or report that can simply become outdated or be replaced with a new edition. In such a situation, you should update your post and cite the latest available data, even if it means some tweaks to your content.
How to increase your website’s authoritativeness
Start working on your authors’ online image. Suppose you run a SaaS website that offers services for marketers and marketing agencies. Some of your blog posts are signed with your marketing manager’s name, some with your CFO’s name, and some – with your CEO’s name. All these people should have:
- LinkedIn accounts (and not empty ones, for that matter) with links to them on your website
- Short bio notes and photos (under each post and in the “about us” or “our team” section)
- A list of previously published posts
If you work with external writers (that’s cool), also verify their experience. The role of content writers who today write about skis and tomorrow about the best mortgage on the market will slowly decrease. If you’re after B2B content, work with B2B writers. If you want to write about financial matters, work with authors experienced in finance.
You can also try to go one step further and get some guest publications for these experts in some renowned and valuable sources like Entrepreneur, Medium or your industry media. A personal blog is also a good idea, provided it’s updated regularly.
5 things to avoid
Lastly, I want to show you what to avoid in order to stay compliant with Google E-A-T:
- Automatically generated content: Although AI in content writing is getting a lot of traction now, this technique will never be compliant with Google E-A-T; AI has no authority, it has no recognition, and, obviously, no real-life experience. It’s better to invest in high-quality content written by real human beings.
- Duplicate content: That’s a no-go not only concerning Google E-A-T but anything you do online. Forget about copy-paste.
- Malicious links and content: Don’t link or recommend anything that has ever been even close to things that are harmful or dangerous.
- Hidden texts and links: Google doesn’t like when website owners try to hide something from its crawlers. Be transparent about your content.
- Websites with wrong keywords: Remember this simple rule – one subpage, one keyword. And the keyword has to be adjusted to the given subpage’s content.
Summary: Master Google E-A-T
Contrary to popular belief, content writing is multifaceted work that requires a good understanding of both Google and customer requirements. If you want to build your authority online, make sure you check all the Google E-E-A-T boxes and provide users with battle-tested and practical advice:
- Add examples and case studies to your texts
- Look for market research and use it to back up your thesis or point of view
- Build your credibility as an author, both through your website, LinkedIn and other media
And if you need help with all that, I’m happy to help. Over 11 years of B2B writing experience makes a case for itself! Drop me a line, and let’s see what we can achieve together!