2014 brought us so many gifts. Ellen was in that selfie that took down Twitter. The Ice Bucket Challenge raised more than $115 million for ALS research and awareness. Google's E-A-T guidelines debuted for the first time...
It's been six years, and the concept of E-A-T is widely under-considered when creating content. Why should you care? E-A-T factors into how your page and website is ranked. In the last few years, we've seen huge pushes (aka Algorithm Updates) from the Googs to improve search results with high-quality, peer-reviewed, and trustworthy content. Let's break down those three letters into bite-size pieces...I'll see myself out.
W-H-A-T is E-A-T?
E is for Expertise
A is for Authoritativeness
T is for Trustworthiness
Three words that are definition adjacent, but Google lives for a clever acronym, so here we are.
E-A-T is in the official content quality guidelines given to the human content reviewers that Google employs. It should surprise no one that Google breaks down these guidelines in a concise, 168-page pdf. Don't worry, my summary and recommendations will be much more digestible.
I'm sorry. I know it's a problem. I cannot stop.
Once Google's reviewers, human or otherwise, determine the purpose of a page, they then determine how well the page fulfills that purpose. Keep in mind: if the content covers topics involving Your Money or Your Life (YMYL), the page and website may be held to stricter standards than other pages.
Expertise is unique in the trio in that it only applies to the writer. The content creator is subject to expert evaluation. Google's official recommendation is that the writer of the content should have the appropriate experience and/or accreditation to produce reliable content on the subject matter. Has the writer of this study completed the first-hand field research required to write about nocturnal Puffin behaviors in social groups?
Authoritativeness applies not only to the content creator but also to the website on which the content is published. It would seem odd for a Harvard Law Professor with 50 years of experience to publish their case summaries on their celebrity gossip blog, right? Right. Google recognizes that content with high authority from a writer with high authority should be available on websites with high and relevant authority.
Trustworthiness, like Authoritativeness, applies to the content creator, the content, and the platform. Here are a few questions that may help determine if your content is trustworthy:
- Does your article site reliable sources?
- Is your data and/or content peer-reviewed?
- Is your website secure?
- Is the author of the content active in or familiar with the topic?
- Is your content updated when new data or information is available?
The three pillars of E-A-T do not operate independently, so don't put too much effort into making sure your content checks each of the three boxes. The concepts of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are not individually evaluated, but rather considered as a whole. I always recommend that content is created for a reason that benefits the user. Do not create content for the sake of creating content.
Things to remember:
- Websites that deal with YMYL topics are subject to higher E-A-T standards than others
- Your content should be reliable, accurate, and up-to-date
- Your content should be useful and beneficial to the user
- Don't be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling with your content strategy