Updated 12/16/2022: Google has updated E-A-T to E-E-A-T and no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Before you read about E-E-A-T, it is a good idea to read this article first, as it is the basis to Double E-A-T.
E-A-T has nothing to do with my hunger or yours, but a burrito and cheese fries sure do sound good right about now!
I would be remiss not to make a food/hunger joke when discussing E-A-T, but let’s move on to what it actually is and why it matters for your blog or niche site.
E-A-T is a term that Google came up with and is used in the Search Evaluator Guidelines PDf. It stands for “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.”
As a blogger or niche site owner, why should you care about E-A-T?
Because your site needs to ooze E-A-T or your blog might get EATEN in Google’s search engine! Once you are done laughing really hard, move on to the next section to learn the nitty gritty details about E-A-T.
Why Does E-A-T Matter for Your Blog or Niche Site?
If you have a blog or a niche site, Google wants it to show expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. If your site shows E-A-T, it will achieve the following:
- Help your site rank well in Google
- Build trust with the human reader
- Show that you are an authority/expert in the niche topic
- Help other sites want to link to you
- Compel readers to want to share your content
- Help grow your brand’s reputation
E-A-T is important for blogs and niche sites because it demonstrates expertise, authority, and trustworthiness to potential customers. Customers are more likely to buy products from an affiliate site if they perceive the site as a credible source of information.
If they don’t trust you as a resource or influencer, why would they buy something that you’ve suggested?
By demonstrating expertise in the subject matter, an affiliate site can build trust with potential customers and convince them that the site is a reliable source of information. You can do this over time, with the content you create, and by regularly meeting and exceeding readers’ expectations.
Ultimately, E.A.T. is important for blogs because it helps to build trust with potential customers and convince them to purchase products from the site.
Let’s slow down and address the fact that anyone can create a website without having expertise in a topic. However, Google does not want to reward sites that don’t show expertise or trustworthiness, which is understandable. Google has a big job in determining “legitimate” information. This criteria of creating and establishing E-A-T on your site is especially critical in YMYL niches.
For this reason, I teach you to start a blog in a niche you have experience in and can show it.
What is YMYL?
YMYL stands for “Your Money Your Life” niches, which refer to the financial and health niches. When it comes to these niches, people are looking for critical advice. Imagine if Google’s search engine started returning search results from site owners who aren’t experts in these fields. What are the ramifications of this?
People could make the wrong decisions regarding their health or finances which has the potential to impact them severely.
Looking at things from that perspective, it becomes easier to understand why Google’s algorithm wants to reward websites that show E-A-T factors. In fact, in 2019, Google released their “How Google Fights Disinformation“, Google revealed how they use input from the search quality evaluators to get feedback regarding how their search results are performing. This tells us that Google is constantly improving their search algorithm to “recognize” and reward sites that show E-A-T and de-rank those that don’t.
How Can I Find More About E-A-T?
In 2015, Google released the Search Quality Evaluator Guide in which it reveals guidelines for how the search evaluators should determine ratings regarding search results.
Here is a brief summary of what the Search Quality Evaluator Guide is: Google hires human raters to rate the search results that their search engine is returning. They do this so they can tweak the search engine algorithm to return the best possible results for the searcher. The details of how raters should “rate” these search results are explained in the Search Quality Evaluator Guide in a LOT of detail.
The guide reveals that there is are “Page Quality” (PQ) rating and a “Needs Met” (NM) rating and covers how to rate E-A-T factors. With their feedback, Google’s algorithm is then modified.
For instance, if search quality evaluators are seeing spammy or untrustworthy search results for given keywords, then Google knows it needs to do a better job with its algorithm at detecting those spammy sites and letting them drop in rankings.
Let’s dig into the guide a bit further.
Highlights from the Search Quality Evaluator Guide
Google clearly outlines that medical advice, news/journalist information, home remodeling, financial, taxes, legal advice, scientific topics, and hobbies ALL need to demonstrate some level of expertise in their topics:
Even if you steer clear of financial and health advice, you still need expertise, trustworthiness, and authoritativeness for your blog. If your website is about learning how to play guitar, you need to highlight your expertise on the “About” page of the site in good detail.
Google acknowledges that some topics may require less formal expertise. In the case of folks who share product reviews, restaurant reviews, or share their opinions or advice in forums and blogs, Google is okay with their “everyday expertise”:
Google states that depending on what your site or blog is about, it is okay to have everyday expertise OR formal education. Again, the scrutiny for E-A-T factors is higher in the YMYL niches and rightly so: medical advice and financial advice should be from credible sources and highly impact people.
Back to “everyday expertise”: they give an example of a forum where folks share their personal experiences and loved ones’ experiences regarding a serious illness. They weren’t giving medical advice which Google makes clear should be done by health professionals. But again, these folks CAN discuss information/experiences they have lived through or their loved ones have gone through regarding that illness:
Can you have a website that covers an illness you have experienced or a close loved one has that is purely informational? Yes. However, you should not give medical advice to folks unless you’re a qualified health professional. They are looking at the intent of your information and whether you are qualified to give it.
How Do You Establish Expertise and Trustworthiness on Your Affiliate Site?
In the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google mentions how information regarding who is behind the website and who is writing the content is important. What does this mean?
People visiting your site need to know who is writing the content and what qualifies you to talk about the topics on your site or blog.
If you have a website about losing weight in a healthy manner, are you qualified to share information on this? It’s about the readers of your content establishing trust with you, your brand, and the content you are sharing with them:
If you have an affiliate or informational site, even if they are not YMYL niches, it is CLEAR that Google is checking for certain metrics to determine if you have any level of expertise, whether professional or everyday.
What Qualifies as Poor Content or an Untrustworthy Site?
When the content lacks originality, such as minute details, videos of the author going in-depth, and lack of images (or using videos and images that are being used on plenty of other sites), that is one indication that the page is low quality. Another indication is having an insecure connection on a shopping checkout page of a site or factual inaccuracies regarding a subject matter:
Other factors, including an unsatisfactory amount of main content and distracting ads/grotesque ads/difficult to close ads that pull you away from the content, and an unsatisfying amount of website creator and writer information, also contribute to your page being considered “low quality”.
Checklist to Creating or Improving E-A-T on Your Blog or Niche Site
Each item on this checklist should help build trust between you and your readers and meet Google’s E-A-T guidelines:
1. Create factually accurate and well written content
If your content is factually accurate, your readers will trust you. If they spot factual inaccuracies, they will be quick to exit your niche site or blog. Think about the sites that you trust and the why behind it. It comes down to the accuracy of the content. I will say from personal experience that if I see factual inaccuracies or spelling and grammatical errors when landing on a page, I deem it as spam or a low quality site.
2. Helpful content for your audience
The content you are producing on your blog should be helpful to your audience. If your intent is to share information about sewing, then create awesome content that will help your audience. Use helpful images and videos in your content, as well as break things down as much as possible.
3. Unique content (with product reviews, show unique images and videos as well)
It is important for you to produce blog content that is unique from other sites. If it’s just more of the same information, Google won’t see much, if any value, in your content. If you are recommending a product, especially, they want to see unique content from you, including your own analysis and images and reviews of the product.
4. Cite sources in your content
Where applicable, cite sources to information you are sharing. It helps establish trust when you are citing an established and well known organization or expert.
5. Reach out to experts, especially for YMYL niches
Are you writing an informational blog post and you can get information from an expert in the field? If yes, do it. Again, it helps establish expertise and trust regarding your own content.
6. Update or refresh old content
If your content is old and the information in a blog post has changed, you should update the content. Presenting outdated content to its search engine’s users isn’t in the best interest of Google.
7. Proper ‘About’ Page Which Reveals Author’s Experience
There is nothing more unsettling about a site than when the “About” page doesn’t reveal anything about the author or the site owner. A nice picture of the author, along with a bio and information about their expertise in their niche, is a great signal towards helping to establish your expertise and trust to your readers.
8. Don’t Display Grotesque or Interruptive Ads
It’s common to see ads on sites, but ads that give the feel of “this is a scammy ad built for clickbait” hints at a lower quality page (according to Google’s E-A-T guidelines). Interruptive ads that impact the user experience, such as slow loading times, should be avoided as well.
9. Recommend Helpful Products Your Readers Want
If you have an article that discusses how to start a vegetable garden, it would be a natural fit for you to link out to affiliate products that your readers are interested in such as: planters, seeds, fertilizer, gardening tools, etc.
Recommending products just for your own sake to earn affiliate commissions (and not putting your users first) signals to Google that you are only there for yourself. Make sure to recommend products in a natural and helpful way.
10. Brand Reputation
You want your website or brand to be positively known. If you sell your own products and have garnered positive reviews, you should display them or link to them on your blog.
If you have a few negative reviews, but mostly positive, that is normal. If you have a fair amount of negative reviews, this is a strong negative signal to the reviewer and will contribute to a low page quality (PQ) rating.
If you have a lack of reviews, that won’t be counted against you.
11. Receiving Links and Mentions From Credible Websites
Getting links from other sites isn’t easy, especially if they are from big, credible sites that Google looks on favorably. However, if you create a truly awesome and helpful site, in due time, you should earn links from other sites in your industry, sister sites, and even bigger sites. It’s important to understand, though, that this takes time and I prefer gaining natural backlinks to my site versus seeking them out.