Google E-E-A-T: Updated with New Experience Factor
By: Dileep Thekkethil
Updated On: March 10, 2023
It’s been five years since we started hearing a lot about E-A-T.
Can you remember the first time you ever heard it? In fact, I still remember.
It was during August of 2018. Back then, I was handling a client in the healthcare industry.
The till-then happy client called me up one night and flung the typical dirty question that any SEO would expect after a ranking drop. “What did you do to my site?”
It wasn’t till the next day I saw this official tweet from Google announcing the roll out of broadcore update.
This week we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains the same as in March, as we covered here: https://t.co/uPlEdSLHoX— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) August 1, 2018
In the days that preceded, the discussion forums and SEO news websites like the Search Engine Land and Journal talked about how health, medical and finance websites were badly hit by the update.
A week later I came across the word YMYL and later E-A-T for the first time.
These terms first appeared in the Google Quality Raters Guidelines, which until 2015, was a classified document that only quality raters had access to.
Back in 2018, YMYL and E-A-T got just a few mentions with the quality rater guidelines and not many SEOs thought these two terms would make such a landslide impact on websites in the days ahead.
Now, EAT has metamorphosed into E-E-A-T, and SEOs consider it as the most significant update to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines in the recent past.
In this article, I will discuss everything about Google’s obsession to rank sites that have E-E-A-T signals and how websites can adapt so that they fall into the league.
What is E-E-A-T?
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, and it’s a term that was first introduced in Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines.
This is a huge 168-page document that’s used by Google’s human quality raters to evaluate the quality of different websites. It’s a vital document that helps Google refine their algorithm and provide better search results to users.
Now, the interesting thing is that the Quality Rater Guidelines are updated regularly to keep up with the latest changes in the digital world. And E-E-A-T is one of the concepts that made its way into the document.
While it only had a few mentions in the earlier version, it now has a dedicated section all to itself. This just goes to show how important E-E-A-T is to Google when it comes to ranking websites.
So, what does this mean for you?
If you’re serious about SEO, you need to pay attention to E-E-A-T. It’s all about making sure your website’s content is accurate, trustworthy, and written by experts in their respective fields.
By focusing on E-E-A-T, you can improve your website’s overall quality and ultimately rank higher in the search engine results page.
Now, let’s dive deeper into what each letter in E-E-A-T means for you as a website owner.
E – Experience
The level of experience that a website or author has in the subject matter they are writing about is now a critical factor. Google’s algorithms are trained to identify if the content creator has first-hand experience in the topic they are writing about.
When a creator provides examples, tips and real life experience within the content, this adds to the trust factor. In fact, Google now understands that everyday experience is as important as the expertise in certain circumstances.
For example, when a mother of three explains the best ways to burp a newborn baby, the content becomes trustworthy and no less important than a content written by a pediatrician.
E – Expertise
Expertise refers to the level of knowledge, skill and understanding you have about the topics you’re writing about. But let’s be honest – expertise isn’t something that just anyone can claim. It takes constant hard work, dedication, and recognition to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Take, for example, a medical website. If you’re publishing content about medical topics, it’s imperative that the content is written or reviewed by a medical expert. After all, you wouldn’t want to get your medical advice from someone who’s not qualified, right?
On the other hand, if you’re writing about a more general topic, like comedy shows, Google cares little for the expertise.
If you are into a serious niche, especially one that falls into the YMYL category, you must have enough articles published under your byline, in multiple websites to position yourself as a subject matter expert.
Authority is all about how much of a go-to source you are for the topic you are creating content for.
For instance, let’s say you’re looking for information on optimizing your website’s meta tags. You would naturally look for information on websites like Moz, Search Engine Journal or Stan Ventures because you know they have a reputation for being authoritative in the SEO and digital marketing space.
This is because they have established themselves as a go-to source for the latest information, strategies, and best practices in the industry, and have built a strong reputation among SEO professionals and website owners.
While there are many SEO experts out there who work behind the scenes and help businesses succeed, not all of them have the kind of online presence and authority that Google sees in the sites mentioned above.
This is where backlinks come into the picture. Backlinks help establish your authority in a particular niche or industry. At Stan Ventures, we receive natural backlinks every day, and this gives Google enough clues that we are one of the best in the industry. And trust me, it gives a huge boost to our authority and reputation.
If you are just starting as a professional, make sure to link your social profiles within the author bio and anything that will help users and search engines establish your authority in the niche or topic. And if you are running a YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) website, then building your digital authority becomes even more critical.
So, to sum it up – the more authoritative you are in your field, the more likely Google is to recognize you as a trustworthy source of information. And in the world of SEO, backlinks can be your best friend in establishing that authority.
Trustworthiness is like a good reputation in the online world. Just like how you would trust a restaurant with high ratings and reviews, Google also looks for signals of trustworthiness when ranking websites.
For example, let’s say you are a website offering digital marketing services. If other high-authority websites in the same niche link to your website or mention your brand positively, this can be a signal of trust for Google.
In addition, having a secure website with HTTPS can also help increase trustworthiness. This is why it’s important to make sure your website has an SSL certificate and is using HTTPS.
Remember, trustworthiness is not something that can be achieved overnight. It’s something that you earn over time through positive interactions and engagement with your audience.
There are also external factors that are equally important.
One of these external factors is social proof. Social proof refers to the positive signals that are generated when other people endorse your website or content. This can come in the form of social media shares, comments, or reviews. When other people vouch for your website, it can help build trust and authority.
Another important external factor is third-party reviews. Third-party reviews are reviews that are published on other websites, such as review sites or directories. When your website or business is listed on these sites and has positive reviews, it can be a powerful trust signal for search engines and users.
What is YMYL?
YMYL stands for “Your Money Your Life” and it refers to a group of websites that publish content related to finance, health, and wellness, which can significantly impact the reader’s life.
Now, you may wonder why YMYL sites require special treatment when it comes to SEO.
Well, that’s because the information published on these sites can have a significant impact on the reader’s finances, happiness, success, or overall well-being. And that’s why Google has set strict quality guidelines for YMYL sites, ensuring that the information provided is trustworthy and reliable.
To rank high on Google, YMYL sites must provide high-quality content that meets specific criteria. The algorithm checks for signals related to experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to determine the quality of the content. In other words, the content must be written by experts in the field, come from a reputable source, and be trustworthy.
If you’re interested in learning more about YMYL sites, here are a few examples of the most popular ones:
If you own a shopping website that has a payment gateway integrated, then users are entering their credit and debit card details. If this information falls into the wrong hands, it can be disastrous for the users. This is why such websites require extra scrutiny by Google before ranking.
Similarly, websites that provide financial advice, investment guidance, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, and college fees fall under the YMYL category. We all know that the web is full of information, and if a user lands on a page that offers unverified or factually wrong information, it can adversely affect their financial stability.
The same goes for medical information sites. As users search the web for health and wellness information, Google wants to make sure that they are sent to highly reputed websites. One wrong medical suggestion can have a long-lasting impact on the user’s life, and Google doesn’t want that to happen. Even alternative medicine sites and nutrition websites fall under the YMYL category and require a high E-A-T score to rank on Google.
Legal advice websites are also included in the YMYL category. Users take most legal moves after thorough online research, and the information they read has a significant influence on their decisions. Any legal site that offers advice and information on divorce, child custody, creating a will, or becoming a citizen falls under the YMYL category.
News sites are also under Google’s radar. While there is news that does not affect a user’s life, local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about significant topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology, fall under YMYL.
And there are a few more niches that fall under YMYL. Sites that provide information on child adoption, auto safety, home security, and privacy are a few examples.
When it comes to YMYL, it’s not just about the information, but it’s also about the impact it can have on the user’s life. So, always remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
When Did Google Introduce E-E-A-T?
The 164-page Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines first introduced the term E-E-A-T. Even though the term was present in the older versions, the first details about E-E-A-T and its implications appeared in the updated Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that was released in November 2018.
The document primarily focuses on helping quality raters identify quality pages on the web. And the inputs of these quality raters are later used when tweaking the algorithm.
What does this mean?
The Quality Raters Guidelines cannot be called the book of all ranking factors, but it is definitely giving enough inputs for webmasters to know what Google cares about when ranking websites.
Before the formal introduction of this document, there was much discussion on SEO forums about Google’s highly sophisticated metrics for ranking websites.
Many even claimed cracking Google’s Ranking metrics.
Putting an end to the clamor, Google first introduced its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to the public in November 2013.
This convinced SEOs across the world that the search engine giant had bigger plans for the future.
Earlier, there were reports that Google has hired human evaluators to enhance Google search quality.
It’s now believed that this core team worked on the draft that was later released as Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
How to Improve Google E-E-A-T Through YMYL SEO?
Our analysis found that Google’s Medic Algorithm 2018 pulled down websites with low E-E-A-T signals and gave a gentle push in the rankings of the ones that followed it.
Websites that were hit by the Google Medic update are the ones that offered no assistance, gave incomplete or uncertain information, or these sites provided misleading information that can harm the readers.
This doesn’t mean all the sites hit by the Google Medic Update lack quality content.
For example, the update has affected pages with high-quality content, and the ones that provide valuable information to the users.
The content rankings fell because it appeared on sites with low authority and trust. Adding to this, if it’s a medical or finance site, the content has to be written by someone with expertise in the field.
If you think that your website was hit by the Google Algorithm update in spite of publishing high-quality content, here is a list of E-E-A-T signals.
By ensuring your website has these quality-signals, you can recover from the current Google Algorithm update and safeguard your site from future algorithm updates.
These SEO factors can help your YMYL site improve your website’s E-A-T signals:
Add Authors Bio
Google Quality Guidelines clearly indicate that it has to know who is providing the information to the users.
As the YMYL sites, including healthcare and wellness websites, contain very sensitive content, Google expects these topics to be drafted by trustworthy and proven authors.
Google’s guidelines also mandate websites to provide the contact information and customer support details if the users land on a product or service page.
Ensure that all blog posts have an author byline to show the trustworthiness of the content to the users.
The engagement of users with the content gives quality signals to Google on how well an author has provided the information.
Build Credibility and Trustworthiness for the Author and Publisher
Google considers credibility and trustworthiness of authors and publishers before ranking websites.
There are multiple Google patents that give a glimpse into the ranking factors that Google looks for when determining the credibility of entities, including authors and publishers.
One such patent is “Credibility of an author of online content,” granted to Google in 2012. If you remember, this was the same time when Google displayed the author’s name on the search results.
According to this patent, an author gets a reputation score based on the topics the person writes about. Based on factors such as reviews, active years, quality of the publishers, and the consistency in producing quality content, the reputation score can increase or decrease.
Additionally, the patent also discusses the importance of displaying the author’s professional expertise (this includes educational qualification and training) and the role in the current organization.
When you put this together with yet another patent titled “Systems and Methods for Re-Ranking Ranked Search Results,” Google takes author reputation as a ranking signal to newer heights.
This patent combines the author’s topical credibility score with a citation score, which is the number of external citations received by the documents authored by the person.
Also, it has to be noted that Google Algorithms can detect the author’s and the publisher’s mentions to assess credibility. For example, when an author gets mentions from highly credible websites (seed sites) in a particular niche, the credibility improves.
Google’s Garry Illyes in 2017 confirmed that unlinked brand mentions on any platform, including websites and social media, can give credibility signals to Google’s Algorithm.
This means constant engagement of the author and publisher in multiple online platforms can help improve the reputation score.
However, if the conversation revolves around negative sentiments, it can adversely affect the author and publisher’s credibility.
In fact, Google has a patent named “Sentiment detection as a ranking signal for reviewable entities,” which clearly states that any reviewable entities such as people (author), places, organizations, and publications are assigned reputation score by Google’s Ranking Analysis Engine that understands the sentiment about an entity from text-based reviews available online.
Apart from this, co-occurrences of the entities in search queries and also on other crawlable content assets such as videos, podcasts, and documents can also give Google more signals about the expertise and trustworthiness of the author and publisher.
Edit or Delete Low-Quality Content
According to the Google search quality guidelines, the E-A-T score of the website is evaluated after calculating the total E-A-T score of individual posts/pages of a website.
So, you have to be careful about each and every post that goes live.
That is why we recommend removing poor-quality content from your website.
This may reduce your traffic a bit, in the long run, but you will benefit as it will improve the E-E-A-T score of your website.
This is also one of the proven tactics to recover from a Google Algorithm Update.
If you’re managing a YMYL website, ensure that the content is curated by experts in your niche.
Since personal experiences are considered legit as per the search quality guidelines, try updating the existing content with personal experiences.
Build your Personal Branding
There are certain quality signals that you have to implement on your website to improve the E-E-A-T score and gain audience trust.
SEO experts recommend enhancing the “About Us” page by mentioning all the publications you’re featured on.
Apart from that, add a schema markup code to give additional information to Google about your content.
Also, try to keep a page listing out the testimonials and customer reviews to boost trustworthiness among the visiting audience.
Build/Earn High-Quality Relevant Backlinks
Google’s PageRank Algorithm, which is considered the god of all Google algorithms, was built around identifying trustable websites.
Over the last two decades, this core algorithm of Google has been nurtured, and now it’s even more capable of what it was initially supposed to do. Thanks to numerous ad-hoc algorithms that enriched the core concepts.
In one of the whitepapers titled “How Google Fights Disinformation?“, the search engine giant confirmed the role played by the PageRank algorithm in helping it identify trustworthy and authoritative content.
It says links on the web (backlinks from trustworthy sources) help understand the authoritativeness of pages.
John Mueller has also confirmed that backlinks and the anchor text have far more significant roles than just ranking websites. According to him, they act as a means for Google to classify a page and the whole domain based on a theme at a macro level.
One of Google’s patents, “Search Results Based on Trust,” clearly states that anchor text clusters are one of the most important ways for Google to gauge trust.
According to the patent, Google uses the anchor text clusters to create a trust label for a website or a URL, which will be recorded in an annotation database.
But all this just doesn’t mean that a handful of backlinks from relevant sources can get you there on the top. Even though the links are relevant, if the website that’s providing you with the links isn’t authoritative, there is little link juice being passed.
This is yet another upgrade to the concept of the PageRank algorithm. It is believed that Google has reduced the ranking weightage for the number of links you get. Now, it’s replaced by the concept of seed links and your proximity to seed websites in the link graph.
In a 2017 Google patent titled “Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a web-link graph,” Google clearly shows it intends to take the PageRank algorithm to the next level.
According to the patent, the ranking score for a linked document (web page) is determined by how close or far it’s from selected seed sites.
Seed sites are the domains that Google identifies as the highest authority ones based on the high-quality content they have produced about a particular topic for the years and its reputation.
The patent clearly states that seed sites are limited by number to avoid manipulation. What’s even more exciting is that Google wants no ranking scores (link juice) to be assigned for sites that are not directly or indirectly linked to the seed sites.
The closer the link is to the seed sites, the more authority it will pass, and as the distance increases, the authority score decreases.
This means that you must build links only from sites that Google recognizes. By simple logic, Google’s recognition comes in the form of organic traffic. However, you must ensure that the traffic generated is to pages that cover thematic topics similar to yours.
Google, in fact, uses the same link proximity graph to assess the authority of entities, including the author and publisher. For example, getting a direct mention or link from a seed site can vastly improve the reputation score of an author/publisher.
Though the patent says the seed sites are manually picked, with advancements made by Google’s algorithm the process by now should be automated.
Secure your site with HTTPS
Google also considers ‘security’ as a major E-E-A-T factor.
Apart from the quality content, backlinks, and author’s reputation, website security is also one of the important factors used for evaluating the E-A-T score of a site.
So, if your website is finding it hard to get back on track after being hit by an Algorithm update, ensure you have an SSL certificate.
You may have come across HTTP sites in Google Chrome browser with a “Not secure” tag.
This is a strong indicator of how Google is pushing website owners to enable HTTPS.
Social Media Activities
Most website owners may not know that the official social media profiles can improve E-E-A-T score.
Being active on social media and sharing content with the target audience and other influencers will help maintain an active website.
It helps you to connect with a more significant audience and garner a positive reputation for your site.
Though this might not aid you directly in E-A-T, it will help you outperform competitors and gain more E-E-A-T signals.
Does Google Have an E-E-A-T Algorithm Score?
There’s no core algorithm based on your E-E-A-T or YMYL scores.
They are, in fact, one of the many tiny algorithms that help Google determine the quality of a website.
Is Google E-A-T a Ranking Factor – SEO Industry Discussions
There has been a lot of confusion regarding Google E-E-A-T and whether it’s a ranking factor.
So here are few facts to clear the air surrounding this common myth.
- Mary Haynes, in one of her tweets, said that E-E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor but a part of thousands of tiny algorithms that signals Google about the quality of a web page.
- There’s nothing as YMYL score or E-E-A-T algorithm score, Gary Illyes confirmed. E-E-A-T only works as an indirect ranking factor.
- Focusing on E-A-T is not an alternative to doing SEO audits or improving technical SEO on a website. The E-E-A-T factor will only improve if other issues on the site are taken care of, such as a slow loading site, broken links, site not optimized for mobile, etc.
- Finally, addressing E-E-A-T changes takes time since improving the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of a site is a gradual process.
Although Google E-E-A-T is not a core ranking algorithm, Google continues to use them as a benchmark for the quality of a website.
In the coming days, Google will continue to push down thin and factually irrelevant content and highlight those written by subject-matter experts.
Therefore, you should focus on improving the quality of content on your site, building authority in your niche, and develop trustworthiness through the best SEO practices.
John Mueller, the Search Advocate at Google during one of the Office Hour Sessions.
The specific question that came up in this regard was on the author’s expertise. The question was, “I have some questions about E-A-T. In Quality Raters Guidelines, the author’s expertise is important. So do you think it’s important for the real algorithm?”
John Mueller asked for more clarification on his question, to which he replied, “I mean, E-A-T is just mentioned in the Quality Raters Guidelines. But I want to know if real algorithms also care about E-A-T factors like author expertise.”
To which John answered, “I would assume that there is some indirect kind of work done to try to do similar things, yes.
I mean, we put this in the guidelines so that we can kind of guide the quality testers to double-check these things and if we think that it’s something important then I would assume that folks on the …search quality side also work to try to understand that in a more algorithmic way.”
John cautioned against thinking of EAT as a ranking factor or metric. Next, he addressed the topic of author expertise and said that it’s more like trying to understand how the content fits into the rest of the web.
Expertise of Content
So, what measures the expertise of content: the credentials of the author or the accuracy of the content they publish?
Ideally, an expert author should be able to write expert content, but is the proof of expertise in the author’s credentials, or is the quality of the content itself?
As per John Mueller, “it’s a very fuzzy area.”
Search Engine Optimization is a highly unpredictable arena.
Since Google sets the rules (at least, for the time being), websites have to follow it, whether they agree or not.
There are times when a website hits rock bottom one day and recovers with a bang after a few months.
Such instances are not rare after Google rolls out an algorithm update.
Google’s August Broad Core Algorithm update 2018 is one such update that shook the internet.
Later, it was found that this update targeted the Health and Wellness industry.
Hence, it was unofficially named as the Google Medic update by SEO experts.
Nevertheless, we witnessed another update after Google’s 20th anniversary which is named the Google Birthday Update on 27th November.
It’s touted as the reversal of a few factors of the Google Medic Update, as websites that were hit by the Medic Update started performing well.
Some websites are yet to recover from the Medic Update of August 2018.
These sites and others can improve the E-A-T score by following the tips mentioned in this blog and ensure that the future Google Algorithm updates work in your favor.
12 thoughts on “Google E-E-A-T: Updated with New Experience Factor”
Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of information online and I really appreciate it and I really hope you write more like this one.
Thanks Collins. Will try to give you more insights on the same in my future updates.
Thanks for these great informations. I did not know that social media is a part of eat. I will create a Twitter account:)
Great article and thanks for the tips!
“Apart from that, add a schema markup in the HTML code to give additional information to Google about your content.”
Is this the normal markup added by Yoast or any other method? Could you clarify more on this line in your article?
Thanks for sharing!
I enjoyed reading all the steps that you listed for recovering from the Medic update. I will put them into practice. Thank you.
Great. Hope you will see a visible difference in the way Google ranks you.
Interesting, It’s very much like the SILO strategy, but includes off-page strategies as well. I’ve taken a look over Googles documentation on E-A-T as well, and think this is on point!
This is great information I ever seen about eat and YMYL i was looking for. Thank you sir!
I wanna know How can I write like you?