Technique 4 minutes, 15 second read Mark Johnson, Editor, Just.Marketing
These days, to rank highly in searches, Google needs to regard your site or web page as having ‘Expertise, Authority and Trust’ (EAT). Think of EAT as a byword for reputation.
But to build EAT for your site, it is worth understanding how EAT has become such an important metric in Google’s efforts to improve the quality of search results.
The ‘Medic’ update
In August 2018, Google rolled out the so-called ‘Medic’ update. A broad core algorithm update, it created one of the biggest ranking fluxes that year.
It was in recognition of the fact that if you search, for example, for medical advice (hence the ‘Medic’ nickname) it needs to be provided by experts with authority in the field, and whom you can trust. And with the same being true of financial advice, such as for insurance products, these sites have become known as ‘Your-Money-or-Your-Life’ sites.
But regardless of the content type, if Google believes your page has good EAT, it will scale the search engine results, says Melissa Tirey, Chief Operating Officer of international digital growth consultancy Shift6.
“Popularity and user engagement are a mark of a good reputation for Google so ensuring high enough EAT ratings to make gains in search rankings will continually bring people back to your site and create a perpetual cycle that will help build out EAT and reputation scores,” says Melissa.
Why Google had to make improvements
Part of Google’s task in improving quality of results has been to overcome the ‘tricks’ employed by some SEO specialists in the past. These included building out pages crammed with keywords to attract traffic.
Laura Hampton, Head of Marketing and PR at digital PR and SEO agency Impression, says, “Lots of sites did this in the past, so you had, for example, toy sites writing content about the medical implications of toys to capture that traffic whether the business had some credibility in that space or not.”
Melissa also recalls several examples where the system was “‘gamed’ by companies with big enough budgets” by pushing out new content and increasing the number of reviews they received.
She says, “The algorithm used to highly favour novel, relevant content, often to the exclusion of other indicators. Novel, relevant content is still important – it's just not the only important factor any longer. In the past, it was often enough to write quippy blog posts or a few articles a week and post them on your site to see your authority and search engine results pages rise.
“Then, customer reviews were the basis of what built EAT, as increasing the number of user reviews created content that was both novel and relevant. Both of these are still important; but, other factors have increased in importance.”
What is most important
Today, Google factors in, for example, whether a company has won awards or gained recognition from other authoritative websites as part of EAT.
Another way to improve EAT is through ‘authorship’. If you have experts in the company or can source experts in relevant fields to write blogs, articles and other content online, this is an invaluable way to build EAT. In fact, some SEO experts believe it is currently the most important way.
Laura says, “It’s a very tangible win when addressing EAT. Making your content more expert and trustworthy can sound quite subjective but through focusing on building up authorship with author pages in your blog builds trustworthiness immediately and it’s relatively straightforward to do.”
She also points out that this becomes even more powerful when your experts comment on other sites, adding greater authority and trust to that expert.
Melissa agrees. She says, “Many people balk at the notion of being 'an expert' but if you have been working in an industry for 10 years, you likely have a wealth of knowledge others will find relevant. Build out your expert biography pages and then find ways to show off their knowledge. Start with articles on relevant business or trade sites and create contributor profiles on these sites for your experts. Utilize a free source like HARO – Help and Reporter Out – and send out quotes for relevant journalist requests.”
Melissa also offers the following advice for building the EAT for an expert: “For authors, credentials, citations and any awards should be highlighted online and coded properly to ensure the algorithm can pick up exactly what they are.
“As a PR company, Shift6 leverages long form bio pages for any of our clients’ writers and experts to help build expertise, authority and trust.”
Other EAT builders
So while having experts with detailed profiles contributing content to your site is probably the best way to improve EAT, your checklist of other EAT builders should also include:
- ensuring your site is secure
- investing in customer reviews and other user engagement
- referencing primary sources for your content
- conducting and publishing your own research
- making it easy to contact someone at the company.
Added together, they will build a powerful reputation for your site.