If you have been using the Google Search Engine for some time now, you must have had wondered at some point of time about the algorithm and techniques which Google uses to rank different articles related to the search topic on its main search page. The answer to this question of yours might be Google E-A-T which we will be discussing in this article today.
Google E-A-T is a search engine optimization which has been developed by Google and is quite useful in search results. It was introduced by Google in 2018 and the term E-A-T stands for Expertise- Authoritativeness- Trustworthiness. We will be discussing these terms in great detail later on in the article.
It was introduced as a set of quality standards for websites. These standards are a must to be applied when any site is being evaluated by quality testers to know about the quality of content on the website.
At some point in your life, you must have heard about the term YMYL. YMYL stands for Your Money Your Life and it is a very sensitive content. The E-A-T algorithm is of great importance and quite relevant for the evaluation and assessment of articles and documents which cover sensitive content like YMYL topics.
What is Google E-A-T Rankings?
“Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are the three most important aspects of a website that Google uses to evaluate its quality.”
Google describes its new E-A-T i.e Expertise- Authoritativeness- Trustworthiness as the three most important and core pillars in the evaluation process of a website when this evaluation is being conducted by the quality raters. These raters have to do the task of assessing the quality of the search results manually by studying the top-listed results on the website. Google has released a handbook which the quality raters have to follow while rating any website. This handbook is called Google Quality Rater Guidelines and it has also been made public by Google. Here is the link to those guidelines: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com///searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf
In order to excel in any field, you must have expertise in that field. In the context of search rankings, Expertise means that for the Main Content(MC), one needs to show the skills of the creator and then mention it in your own content. There is not much critical role for expertise in humor and gossip websites but it is very critical for websites which are written about medicine, finance or legal advice. The most positive news about Expertise is that every website can show expertise if the content is useful for the users and it is also true.
The expertise of yourself or your writers can help you prove that you have the authority, you are an authority or you have the authoritativeness of the creator for the Main Content(MC). The quality of the conversation is driven from authority if the page in concern is a forum or community discussion. Personal experiences and reviews are just as important as the credentials.
The users need to be shown that they can trust the creators of the Main Content, the website on which the Main Content is published and the Main Content itself. Trustworthiness is extremely important for those websites which deal with financial and eCommerce services like asking for the credit and debit card details of the users and it is thus important that the users should feel safe about their personal belongings and data while they are visiting your website.
It is recommended that when you are just starting with your website, you should atleast get a SSL Certificate because almost 70% of the total search result of Google, uses SSL
Why is E-A-T Ranking so important?
One of the major questions which might be troubling you by this point must be “ If the guidelines established by Google does not affect the ranking of a webpage or a website, why is E-A-T so important”?
The answer to this question is that E-A-T helps in determining the value of your website and this is exactly the reason why E-A-T is so important. Quality raters of a website judge how good a website really is or how informative the page is on the basis of E-A-T guidelines. They always check if the website is able to provide its users with a good online experience and whether or not the content meets the required standards?
A website can earn a high level of E-A-T if the raters who rate the website feel that the website and its content would make the users feel comfortable in reading, sharing and recommending the website’s content to other users.
Thus, E-A-T can be the reason of user’s choosing your website over other competitor websites because E-A-T can be a deciding factor when it comes to Google reviewing or ranking your article on its search page?
The Relation between E-A-T and YMYL?
YMYL or popularly known as “ Your Money, Your Life” by Google, is closely linked with E-A-T.
YMYL pages deals with topics related to finance, medicines, legal advice and anything which can have a positive or negative impact on your life in terms of happiness, wealth and health of its users. Some of the most common examples are-
- Your financial details asked by an online shopping site
- Your credit card details asked by online stores.
- A blog which provides you with parenting advice.
- Legal advice provided by any financial institution.
- Symptoms for a disease listed on a medical health page.
Rankings of YMYL pages is directly proportional to the level of E-A-T of the webpage. This is because if the content meets the requirements of the users, it will draw more traffic. Also a site will have a high ranking if it can make its users feel safe.
Google E-A-T Updates
It was in July 2018 when Google updated their Guidelines for Quality Raters and this helped E-A-T in a big way because now E-A-T managed to enter public consciousness in a very big way. These changed guidelines recommended that all the articles related to health related topics were to be written by medical experts only if these articles wanted to be considered trustworthy and authoritative to meet the required expectations of the users. This change in Google’s algorithm led to huge changes and movements in the health sector and the new E-A-T update was then soon added to Update history books of Google.
Some of the most popular health websites including the likes of healthline.com were heavily affected by these changes and it saw an increase in terms of SEO visibility but for websites like draxe.com, this effect brought some negative SEO results as the visibility was reduced by 50% in a span of just a couple of weeks. And the same can also be seen in the picture attached below.
Some other core updates which were confirmed by Google also had a significant impact on the Health sector. It was a rollercoaster ride for many websites during the era of updates and E-A-T because some updates saw their impressive gains while some others led to decline in the users of these websites.
These observations tell us that till now Google has not been able to develop a uniform and consistent way of calculating E-A-T while evaluating some sensitive YMYL contents like health spaces and financial advice.
Let us look at an example of verywellhealth.com which is a website related to health services.
The year 2018 was a great year for verywellhealth.com when it was one of the biggest winners of the year and it had great SEO visibility. But the following year was not a great year for verywellhealth.com especially after the core update which rolled out in June 2019. But the year 2020 again saw the rise of verywellhealth.com after the core update which rolled out in January 2020. However, this rise could not even come close to the peak SEO visibility levels of verwellhealth.com in the final quarter of 2018.
The figure attached below in this article also proves the same.
YMYL Topics and their E-A-T Relevance
“YMYL is how Google describes search queries in the “Your Money or Your Life” category. Google applies heightened quality standards to these keywords, because false information could have disastrous consequences for a user’s health, finances, happiness or safety.”
Example of some YMYL topics which highlight a few areas of Quality Rater Guidelines are worthy of attention and these include-
While evaluating the Quality of a Page or Page Quality(PQ), the raters should first understand the true purpose which the page aims to serve. The creators should then evaluate the E-A-T of the page of the content based on the interpretation of the content of the page.
A.Health- In order to achieve a high E-A-T score, the content related to health space should be written only by people or organizations who have proper medical knowledge and prior medical experience. The content of the article should also be constantly reviewed and updated in order to achieve high E-A-T scores.
B.News- News articles which have high E-A-T scores should meet the professional requirements of the Journalism industry and they should be able to help the users in understanding the situation better by being objective in nature. News articles which have high E-A-T scores usually have editorial guidelines and they verify the information before publishing them in their articles.
C.Science- Just like articles written on Health, Science articles should also be written by individuals or organizations who have prior experience and knowledge of the related field in order to attain a high E-A-T score.
D.Finance- If the information provided in articles related to financial topics are from reliable sources and verified before publishing, these articles will be scoring high E-A-T scores.
“If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an “expert” on the topic, we will value this “everyday expertise” and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having “formal” education or training in the field.”
Is E-A-T a Google Ranking Factor?
Google has always paid close attention to sensitive YMYL topics when it evaluates the search results and it has also been made clear by the Google’s Guidelines on Quality Ratings.
However, experts at Google have constantly stated that E-A-T is not a ranking factor in itself and it was answered by Gary Illyes in a response to a question asked in the Pubcon Conference.
Improving your E-A-T Scores
There are certain steps which you can follow to increase your website’s E-A-T scores which will help in increasing the rankings of your Webpage.
1. Focussing Topically
Anyone who aims to position themselves as an expert on any YMYL topic should precisely define the cluster of their topic and should focus on one topic and master them instead of being the Jack of All Trades and Master of none. Many forum discussions and Q&A pages have faced many difficulties in the past because they tried to cover a lot of different topics and failed to offer a strong content to its users.
2. Content Quality and Uniqueness
Any website which looks forward to achieving a high rank on search engines should concentrate on creating a comprehensive content which can be trusted by the readers. This content should also be updated at regular intervals after reviewing them. It is also extremely important to write the date on which the article was last modified.
3. Visible Authors
The article should always contain the names of the authors of each piece of content. An author’s expert status can be improved by providing some additional details of the author’s like their CV or a short description of them in the articles. These articles can gain the trust of its users if there is an “ ABout Us” page in the article and also contains contact options.
4. Brand Strength
For gaining the trust of its users, a well established brand which has been built over a long time really helps. Strategic content marketing can get high references and mentions within the relevant industry and it also includes the production of some unique content like whitepapers. If the number of direct users of a website increases instead of being redirected through a search engine, then it indicates Google that more and more users are now visiting the particular website directly to find answers to their queries.
5. Building trust through web design
Many websites now make the use of HTTPS which is quite essential for secure data transfers and these resources can increase the trust of users in a particular website.
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