Authority & experience-first content: how to satisfy Google's E-E-A-T guidelines
Content creators will have to work harder for engagement in line with Google’s ever-evolving guidelines – Dave Colgate of Vertical Leap has the low down.
When optimizing for Google, consider experience, expertise, authority, and trust. / Firmbee.com
Back in 2015, Google officially released the first version of its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. The guidelines, which are designed for Google’s internal team of search raters, introduced the concept of E-A-T: for experience, authority and trust.
After several updates, Google added an extra E to the acronym – and E-E-A-T now seems to have a bigger impact on rankings than ever. So how can marketers and website owners satisfy the latest version of Google’s quality guidelines?
What’s new with Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines?
In December 2022, Google updated its quality rater guidelines, adding another E for experience. So the E-E-A-T acronym now stands for experience, expertise, authority and trust.
Prior to the update, the need to demonstrate experience was grouped with expertise. However, experience is now its own factor and search raters have to find even stronger proof that page authors have demonstrable experience on the topics being covered.
Here’s a quick summary of the instructions Google gives for assessing each factor in E-E-A-T:
Experience: ‘Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic’.
Expertise: ‘Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary knowledge or skill for the topic’.
Authority: ‘Consider the extent to which the content creator or the website is known as a go-to source for the topic’.
Trust: ‘Consider the extent to which the page is accurate, honest, safe and reliable’.
Google says the type and amount of trust needed depends on any given page. For example, online stores asking people to part with money require more trust than, say, an entertainment article.
Pages that could potentially cause visitors harm with inaccurate or misleading information are considered YMYL ('your money or your life') pages. This includes e-commerce, law, finance, gambling, healthcare, and many others.
The more trust you have to earn, the more you need to demonstrate experience, expertise and authority.
How to optimize for E-E-A-T
Essentially, your website and every page you publish needs to demonstrate your credentials for each element of E-E-A-T. We can’t cover everything in one article but here are some key, practical steps you can take to optimize your pages.
Analyze your pages: Determine how much trust you have to earn. Have you considered a YMYL page and how much expertise, experience and authority do you need to demonstrate?
Create content for people: Google wants you to create content for people, not search engines – and relevant target audiences, specifically.
Stick to your topics: Only publish content on topics you’re qualified to discuss and invite experts for anything that you can’t demonstrate E-E-A-T (eg: interviews, guest posts, etc.)
Show your experience: Prove your experience with case studies, accreditations (awards, certificates, etc.) and partnerships.
Create author profiles: For blog posts and articles, create author profiles for writers with profile pictures, social links and their credentials.
Back up your claims: Use data, case studies and facts to back up your claims.
Use credible sources: Check that you’re getting data from credible sources – and always check the original source of stats, facts and other info.
Build your own data: Build your own data from studies, interviews and research that you have exclusive access to.
Prioritize accuracy: Make sure everything you publish is demonstrably accurate – this is the minimum standard for establishing trust.
Avoid AI-generated content: Accuracy is the biggest weakness of generative AI tools like ChatGPT – don’t use them without a strict editorial and fact-checking process in place.
Update your content: Content quality degrades over time so update pages regularly to maintain accuracy and E-E-A-T.
Network with authorities: Publish guest posts on authoritative websites, participate in industry events and interact with relevant, trusted brands as much as possible.
Search raters need to see tangible evidence that you have both expertise and experience on the topics you cover. They also want to see that you are (or at least, could be) a reliable source of information for visitors.
You also need to provide any necessary protections for users, for example, data protection, secure payments, etc. And, even with all of this in place, you need to demonstrate experience, expertise and authority on every page to fully earn the trust of search raters.
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