At the start of the month, we went into detail about how citations will affect your performance in search. Typically, 80% of your website traffic comes from search, coupled with over 3.5 billion searches happening every day – it’s good to understand exactly what factors search engines are using to rank your website.
So, we are going to give you more details on another important ranking factor, E-A-T. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. There are SEO experts out there that doubt whether E-A-T is a true ranking factor. But, like Marie Haynes, we believe it plays an integral part.
Why do we think E-A-T is an important ranking factor for your search performance?
Google has a very long set of guidelines called the Quality Rater’ Guidelines. It’s actually a set of guidelines for their Search Quality Raters (yes, real people who are out there checking the quality of the webpages appearing in SERPs based on these guidelines). It’s pretty handy to understand the guidelines or work with a good digital marketing agency who does, so you know how to create content that performs well in search.
But, if you are interested, Moz has created 30+ important takeaways from these guidelines.
Anyway, the reason these guidelines are important is that they bring up E-A-T quite a lot. 135 times to be exact.
It’s because E-A-T is one of the most important factors for your page quality rating.
And, guess what metrics Search Quality Raters are using to evaluate websites & determine search engine results pages (SERPs)? Page Quality (PQ) and Needs Met (NM).
What is Page Quality (PQ) and Needs Met (NM)?
Page Quality – Search Quality Raters are tasked with giving your webpage a Page Quality Rating. This rating is aiming to evaluate how well the page achieves its purpose. Of course, different websites and webpages have different purposes, so the Search Quality Rater will be looking at lots of factors to determine whether your pages are achieving its purpose.
One of the most important things to remember here is that search engines believe your page should help users, and not be harmful, deceiving or make money with no attempt to help the user. If your webpage is doing any of these, then it will get a low PQ score.
But, you can ensure you are being as informative as possible by giving clear details in your URL, Page Title, Images, Videos, Text and Page Features (this is not an exhaustive list but you get the idea). So simply put, PQ is about understanding the purpose of your webpage & making that purpose clear throughout the content. This is where E-A-T becomes really important.
Needs Met – This differs slightly from Page Quality, as it is looking at both the query asked in search and the results, not just the quality of content on the page. The Search Quality Rater will be carefully considering the query and user intent, and how the webpage meets the needs of the user.
To summarise, Google has people looking at ‘page quality’ and ‘needs met’ of web pages to improve the results in search. One of the most important factors for page quality is Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, so it’s going to have an impact on your rankings.
Understanding Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
Search Quality Raters are looking at the main content of your page when considering E-A-T. Main Content is any part of the page that directly helps the page achieve its purpose, and is directly controlled by you (the Webmaster). It can be text, images, videos, page features (e.g. calculators) or user-generated content (e.g. reviews or anything uploaded by the user).
- Expertise – This is essentially making sure the author of the page is an expert in the subject. This is at the individual and brand level.
- Authoritativeness – Ensuring the creator of the main content, the main content itself, or the website has the authority & weight to deliver the content.
- Trustworthiness – Ensuring the creator of the main content, the main content itself or the website is trustworthy.
We will go into more detail about how to achieve each area later.
Another acronym that’s worth knowing about is YMYL – Your Money or Your Life. Not as scary as it sounds, we promise.
YMYL is used by Google to categorize pages that could potentially impact the future happiness, health or wealth of users. See examples below:
If you are publishing content that falls into these categories, such as information on new building regulations, then making sure it is backed up by the principles of E-A-T is important.
How can you demonstrate that your website has E-A-T?
So, it’s fairly easy to say that you are an expert, authoritative and trustworthy in your field… But, how can you show Google that too?
Possessing knowledge about a particular subject is step one, but you need to show your audience that you have it to get your website traffic booming. Are you using author bios or “about me” pages to show your website users exactly why you are experts in your field? If not, then it’s time to create them. If you are, then review them and make sure it’s clear why you are an expert – your previous work experience, life experience and education all add to this.
Is your content being cited and linked to from other experts in your field? Is your name (or your brand) getting recognised in your expert field? If so, you are more than an expert, you’re the authority on the subject. Citations and Backlinks are two great ways to improve your authoritativeness – but make sure it’s coming from well respected, trusted sources.
Keep an eye on your own Domain Authority too, and work on getting it into the 50/60’s. It’s the barometer that measures your website’s reputation. It is a score out of 100, but generally, a score above 40 is considered good, 50-60 very good, and 60+ is excellent.
It shows that people trust your brand when they are talking positively about it. Building reviews on sites such as Google, Facebook or Trustpilot are going to really help people trust your brand.
After all, real people telling others their experiences of your brand is going to have an impact.
Of course, it’s not always going to be 100% positive, so when you do experience a negative response – make sure you address it and deal with it. Your response to negativity is just as important as the positive stuff. Google will look at both & rate you accordingly. However, if those bad reviews get too much then Google will take it as a sign of low quality.
Here are some straightforward ways to show you are trustworthy:
1. Implement a secure website domain (HTTPS) to ensure your website users data won’t be taken by 3rd parties. Google is hot on website security!
2. Make it clear how to contact your business & associate your business with a physical location
4. If you are sharing knowledge, make sure you have an author biography and link to other sources.
How can you measure the performance of your content?
Building up expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in your content & brand doesn’t happen overnight, and is probably the most difficult part. But, the good news is that there are some surefire ways to understanding if your content is performing well, which are;
Website Traffic – Seems straightforward, but if you are producing good content across all areas of your website (not just the blog pages) then you should start seeing an increase in traffic. For two reasons, Google thinks the content you are producing is relevant to searchers so they rank you higher & the searchers get the answers they want from you.
Don’t be unrealistic, or hard on yourself though, traffic will not increase overnight because you posted one blog using E-A-T principles. Our top tip is to perform a review of your existing pages & produce new content using E-A-T principles, then monitor this over a 6-12 month period to see whether it’s having an impact.
Search Rankings – If search engines begin to rank you higher on their results pages, you can be pretty confident that your content is doing the trick.
Returning Visitors – Ultimately, you want people to keep coming back for more when it comes to your content. Use Google Analytics to evaluate the percentage of returning traffic to your site – it’s a pretty good indicator that people are coming back to your content because it’s useful and relevant.
Engagement – so, there are two things to consider here. Firstly, if you have comments switched on for your website – have you got people commenting? Or, if you are sharing on social media – are people liking, commenting and sharing it to their networks? Make sure you are properly measuring your Social & Website activity to understand what engagement you are getting on a monthly basis.
So, now you know the meaning of E-A-T. It’s clear that however you dissect E-A-T, ultimately, it all comes back down to your content.
Forget “Content is King”, it’s moved up to “God” status. In a digital age, where information is literally at our fingertips, making sure your brand is sharing accurate, and relevant content for your target audience will be the difference to ranking page 1 or page 10.
If your content isn’t hitting the mark for expertise, authoritativeness or trustworthiness – particularly in comparison to your competition, then you can say goodbye to page 1 rankings and position 1-3 will be a distant memory.
There are over 200 ranking factors taken into consideration by Google when determining search results. For a busy construction marketer juggling many projects, that’s overwhelming.
Our in-house team, including Content & SEO specialists, are on hand to offer advice & consultation to take not just your search, but your digital marketing performance to the next level.