Google’s E-E-A-T framework has gradually become a hot topic in the SEO community in recent years, with studies of recent Google updates such as the August 2023 core update indicating that high E-E-A-T websites benefitted significantly. With a drastic increase in low-quality AI-generated content, it certainly makes sense that Google is taking steps to ensure that this does not replace content written by a human with a substantial level of knowledge and expertise.
As Google search has evolved, the algorithm has moved away from heavily relying on more tangible aspects of a domain such as backlinks and keyword density to determine quality and relevance, to take a more sophisticated approach, at the centre of which lies the E-E-A-T concept.
But what is E-E-A-T, how can you optimise your website for it, and what is the significance of YMYL? Find the answer to all of these questions and many more in this guide as we take a deep dive into how Google determines the quality of a website.
- Understanding Google's E-E-A-T concept
- Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines - the origin of E-E-A-T
- What is E-E-A-T?
- Is E-E-A-T a ranking factor?
- Components of E-E-A-T
- Why is E-E-A-T important?
- Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines Explained
- Significant E-E-A-T changes to the 2022 Quality Rater Guidelines?
- Understanding the website - section 2.5
- Overall page quality rating - section 3.0
- Quality of the main content - section 3.2
- Reputation of the website and content creators - section 3.3
- Experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E-E-A-T) - section 3.4
- What is YMYL and why does it matter when it comes to E-E-A-T?
- YMYL Topics: experience or expertise?
- Other key considerations for YMYL websites
- Brand loyalty
- Personal recommendations
- SERP feature optimisation
- Levels of E-E-A-T
- Lowest E-E-A-T
- Lacking E-E-A-T
- High E-E-A-T
- Very high E-E-A-T
- Can you take E-E-A-T too far??
- Fake E-E-A-T - what are the risks?
- Evaluating E-E-A-T in content
- How to achieve technical excellence
- How to curate content for quality and relevance
- How to demonstrate expertise
- How to build authoritativeness
- How to build trustworthiness
- Using structured data to support E-E-A-T
- Implementing structured data for E-E-A-T
- Schema types to use for improving E-E-A-T
- Measuring and tracking E-E-A-T
- Final thoughts
Understanding Google’s E-E-A-T concept
Before outlining the areas you should focus on when considering E-E-A-T on a website, let’s need to go back to the basics and look at the origins of the concept.
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines – the origin of E-E-A-T
Since at least 2005, Google has been using a large, worldwide focus group of Raters to help review its search results and the quality of the pages that rank highly in its algorithm. These Raters use a document known as the Search Quality Rater Guidelines that outlines, in detail, the various factors and signals that determine the level of page and website quality. While this document was historically confidential, a number of leaks eventually led to Google making the guidelines public. Google semi-regularly reviews and makes updates to these guidelines, adding or amending sections and concepts that refine Google’s assessment of content quality. We’ll discuss the Search Quality Rater Guidelines in greater detail later on in this guide.
E-E-A-T as a concept hasn’t always been a part of the guidelines, and since its introduction in recent years, it has also evolved and been tweaked.
What is E-E-A-T?
E-E-A-T – experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trust – was first mentioned in Google’s Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) in 2014. The framework has gone through several iterations since then, with the most recent in December 2022 adding the extra ‘E‘ for experience to the concept. With this latest update to E-E-A-T, Google also stated that trust sat firmly at the centre of the concept and is the “most important member of the E-E-A-T family”
The QRG is used by independent, third-party contractors outside of Google to allocate quality scores for specific search queries to validate the results the algorithm serves to ensure it’s working as desired and collects data to help inform future updates. Since July 2018, all mentions of “high quality” in the QRG have been changed to “high E-E-A-T”. Jennifer Slegg highlighted at SMX Advanced that the most noticeable change was that Google wanted their Raters to not only judge the reputation of a website but also the content creators themselves.
Whilst most sites will have an ‘About Us’ page, they might not have substantial bios for their authors. Slegg stated that “if the content is created by someone with a great reputation, it makes sense for Google to rank that content higher than someone with a bad reputation since it is generally a better user experience for the searcher.”
In a world of fake news, AI-generated content and conspiracy theories, it is clear that Google’s aim is to ensure that content that is created by creators with great reputations ranks well. It is also apparent that Google hopes to tackle clickbait. In the QRG, they have asked Raters to rate sites as “low” if their title is too sensational and doesn’t match the actual content.
Is E-E-A-T a ranking factor?
While E-E-A-T itself isn’t a direct ranking factor, Google uses a variety of signals that align with the concept of E-E-A-T to determine the quality of a website, which can have an impact on ranking performance, so if your content is relevant and ticks all of the E-E-A-T boxes, it has a good chance of performing well in search.
Components of E-E-A-T
Quality content should demonstrate the author’s first-hand experience with the subject matter. This helps ensure that any insights and suggestions are authentic and have been tried and tested. This area of the concept is particularly pertinent in the face of AI-generated content, as an AI tool can never demonstrate true experiences of anything. It can make assumptions about human experiences, but the content that these tools generate will never be truly unique. Experience is a key differentiator between human and AI-written content.
Expertise is the extent to which knowledge is demonstrated within the content or by the author. This is another important factor in distinguishing between AI and human content. In addition to sending signals to Google, expertise will build confidence with the user consuming your content.
Expertise often overlaps with experience, but they’re not the same thing.
Showcasing expertise can be done in several ways such as including the author’s name, having a descriptive biography that outlines their relevant qualifications as well as links to their social media profiles. Person schema with relevant properties for certifications and professions also assists in this area.
Authoritativeness relates to a website or individual’s overall reputation in a given industry and the extent to which a content creator is a go-to source on the topic.
This can be best demonstrated in the following ways:
- A strong content architecture covering all areas or aspects of a particular topic
- Citations, either via backlinks or mentions, from other relevant, authoritative sites
- Building and showcasing a strong digital profile or personal brand that positions you as an expert on a particular topic.
Looking at these aspects in more detail, topic authority is best achieved through a solid content strategy that ensures you cover everything your potential buyer/user will want/need to know. The best way to demonstrate authority on a topic is to have tangible experience across all different areas of said topic. The more high-quality content successfully indexed by Google, the more authoritative a site is on a particular subject.
Although there are ongoing discussions as to whether backlinks are as influential to ranking performance as they used to be, they are still a good indicator of the authoritativeness of a site. If another reputable source links to your site or references information you have published, it’s a strong signal you can be trusted and have a level of authority and credibility.
Building a digital profile or brand is all about showing Google who you are and what you do, and therefore how much authority and expertise you have on a particular subject.
Martin Lewis, a financial journalist and broadcaster who founded moneysavingexpert.com, does this with great success. Martin’s online presence and demonstrable knowledge mean he is rewarded with a knowledge panel in Google search with a brief description of his background and why he is an authoritative figure in the industry, as well as links to his Wikipedia page and social media.
With that in mind, it is unsurprising that articles written by him rank highly on Google for financial-related topics.
As we already pointed out, trustworthiness is at the centre of the concept, as the best way to earn trust is by showcasing an aggregation of experience, expertise and authority.
Why is E-E-A-T important?
Google, along with many other tech giants, are keen to reduce misinformation and harmful low-quality content appearing on their platforms, and with an increasing amount of our daily lives and decisions influenced by web-based information, it is clear to see why.
In a recent study conducted by Eli Schwartz, 77% of Americans admitted to going online to diagnose medical symptoms. Given the potential negative impact on an individual’s health, if fed incorrect or misleading information on this topic, it is critical users are shown the most trustworthy and accurate information possible.
Google provides an excellent example of why E-E-A-T is important in its Search Central Blog; someone searching for how to fill out their tax returns correctly is going to want to see content produced by an expert in the field of accounting such as a tax advisor or accountant to be sure that they are getting accurate and trustworthy information.
Google wants to provide users with the most accurate information possible, so to rank in the top positions, you need to demonstrate E-E-A-T. The concept can apply to both individual pages as well as whole sites, but as established in the example above, its importance can vary based on the topic and intent behind the search. We will touch more on this later when discussing YMYL.
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines Explained
Google has made its Search Quality Rater Guidelines public since March 2013, and while they are a unique opportunity to get a better understanding of how Google determines a quality website, it is important to remember that the quality raters Google contracts to assess search results in relation to the guidelines cannot alter search results directly.
Google states that Search Rater quality scores are used in the same way that restaurants might use feedback cards. Google uses Rater data to validate the aspects of the algorithm that are working well and identify areas where the results served don’t completely align with the results Google wants to serve, leveraging these insights to inform algorithm updates and tweaks. This means that sites that receive high-quality scores from Raters in live user tests are the types of sites that Google wants to rank well.
Quality Rater Guidelines are not a roadmap of Google’s algorithm update. We’re not implying that at all. It is, however, worth remembering that every time a core update occurs, Google advises webmasters to understand how raters assess good content, a large part of which is applicable to E-E-A-T. In turn, Google says that this will help you improve your own content and perhaps do better in Search.
Significant E-E-A-T changes to the 2022 Quality Rater Guidelines
With the December 2022 version of the guidelines, specific updates were made that are pertinent with regard to E-E-A-T. We will break these down below and explain what they mean and why they are relevant.
Understanding the website – section 2.5
The updated guidelines around identifying who operates a website were as follows:
“Start by finding out who is responsible for the website and who created the content on the page… Then, look for information about the website and/or content creators on the website itself.” (page 15)
From this, it can be deduced that it’s increasingly important for Google and the user to know who actually owns and operates the website. With the reputation of content contributors also mentioned and not just the website itself, it seems that the reputation of individuals is also more of a factor when evaluating a website.
Overall page quality rating – section 3.0
Google also drastically revised the order of its advice around rating page quality which further reinforces the importance of E-E-A-T, especially in the case of YMYL content.
The updated QRG offers a new 3-step process for assessing Page Quality:
- Assessing the true purpose of the page and how harmful/deceptive it is
- Assessing the potential of the page to cause harm or otherwise be untrustworthy or spammy
- If the page is not harmful, the quality rating is based on how well the page achieves its purpose
As part of this section, the rater is also asked to consider the “extent to which the topic of the page is YMYL”. We’ll touch on the importance of this later in this article.
Quality of the main content – section 3.2
Google has slightly changed the wording to the section that outlines how raters should assess the quality of a page’s main content.
In the previous QRG, the time taken to create was mentioned as a factor that could influence the perception of page quality. This has now been replaced with “originality”, and given Google’s recent focus on original content, this isn’t much of a surprise.
The emphasis here is how much actual work and effort went into creating the content, as opposed to tactics that rely solely or heavily on automation without oversight or manual curation. In addition to this is the element of originality whereby there is a clear presence of insights that cannot be found elsewhere.
Reputation of the website and content creators – section 3.3
Google has extended its recommendations for understanding the reputation of both a website and its content creators with the addition of asking raters to consider the reputation of the content creators “in the context of what the page is about”. This essentially means that reputation research should consider that a website may be a go-to source for one type of content, as well as an untrustworthy source for another, but that doesn’t mean it is inherently untrustworthy.
Experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E-E-A-T) – section 3.4
The introduction of “experience” to the concept of E-A-T is consistent with many of Google’s updates over recent years, particularly related to product review content.
Because having significant experience with a particular subject lends itself to trustworthy advice, Google now focuses on the extent to which content creators have “necessary first-hand life experience for the topic”.
What is YMYL and why does it matter when it comes to E-E-A-T?
YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. But, despite the ‘M’ in the title, it’s not just about money; YMYL actually covers anything that is considered to affect the health, wellbeing, safety or financial security of people.
In most situations, this is fairly clear-cut. For example, if your business is in any of the following industries, it will be considered part of YMYL:
- Car insurance
- Credit cards
- Medical advice
- Retirement planning
- News about important topics such as politics or business
- Social services
It is important to remember that the impact or harm is not limited to the person directly viewing or using the content, but also to other people who are affected by the person who viewed the content and groups of people or society affected by the actions of people who viewed the content.
|Type of Topic||Clear YMYL Topic||May be YMYL Topic||Not or Unlikely YMYL Topic|
|Information||Evacuation routes for a tsunami||Weather forecast||Music award winners|
|Advice||When to go to an emergency room||How often to replace a toothbrush||How frequently to wash jeans|
|Opinion||Personal opinion about why a racial group is inferior||Personal opinion about why an exercise is inferior||Personal opinion about why a rock band is inferior|
|News||News about ongoing violence||News about a car accident||News about a local high school basketball game|
|Social media||A Tide Pod challenge post||A hot sauce challenge||A music video|
|Reviews||Purchasing prescription drugs||Review of a type of car||Purchasing pencils|
The two ways in which Google says it determines whether something can affect the health, wellbeing, safety or financial security of people are:
- The topic itself is harmful or dangerous. For example, there is clear and present harm directly associated with topics related to self-harm, criminal acts, or violent extremism.
- The topic could cause harm if the content is not accurate and trustworthy. For example, mild inaccuracies or content from less reliable sources could significantly impact someone’s health, financial stability, or safety, or impact society, for topics like symptoms of a heart attack, how to invest money, what to do if there is an earthquake, who can vote, or needed qualifications for obtaining a driver’s licence.
When determining whether a topic is YMYL, you should consider whether the following types of harm might occur; is there a health and safety concern, where the content could harm mental, physical, and emotional health, or any form of safety such as physical safety or safety online? In terms of financial security, it is important to understand whether the topic could damage a person’s ability to support themselves and their families. With regard to society, YMYL topics include those that could negatively impact groups of people, issues of public interest, and trust in public institutions. More generally, any topic that could hurt people or negatively impact the welfare or well-being of society is likely to be scrutinised by Google to ensure it is trustworthy.
The reason that Google’s guidelines matter so much in YMYL – and why Google tends to be much stricter and impose new regulations on these sites first – is that YMYL sites, by their very nature, affect important areas of people’s lives. It’s essential that the websites Google serves in response to YMYL queries are trustworthy, expert and of high authority.
That is where E-E-A-T comes in. In order for a YMYL topic to be trustworthy, it must align with the E-E-A-T concept as this is what Google primarily uses to determine whether a webpage or website can be trusted. If you’re creating a page for a clear YMYL subject, the E-E-A-T will be under the highest level of scrutiny, and without demonstrating those signals, will almost certainly not rank highly in search.
YMYL Topics: experience or expertise?
YMYL topics can be covered by a variety of pages with different purposes, and this impacts the weighting of the importance of the specific elements within the E-E-A-T concept. Google even discusses this in its QRG.
|YMYL Topics||Valuable sharing of life experience||Information or advice best left to experts|
|Sleep challenges when pregnant||Safe and non-medical tips and tricks for sleeping in the last trimester of pregnancy, provided by people who have personally struggled with this challenge, for example: how to use pillows to sleep comfortably in a position that is safe for babies||Sleep medications that are safe during pregnancy|
|Liver cancer treatment||A sincere and respectful forum discussion where people are describing how they’re coping with liver cancer treatment||Different treatment options for liver cancer and the associated life expectancies under such treatment|
|Filling out tax forms||A humorous video from a non-expert content creator about the frustrations of doing taxes||Instructions on how to fill out tax forms|
|Saving for retirement||Reviews of retirement saving services by people with first-hand experience using these services||Advice on how to invest for retirement: how to save, what kinds of assets to invest in, how much money you will need to retire by a specific age, etc.|
|How to vote||A social media post by an ordinary citizen describing why they personally believe it is important to vote in local elections||Information about who is eligible to vote or how to register to vote.|
If a page’s primary purpose is to give information or advice, it’s likely that more of an emphasis on expertise is required to ensure that information is trustworthy. Conversely, there are situations in which pages are created to share the author’s own personal experiences. In this example, factual information from experts and authoritative sources is not necessarily required. Pages that share these first-hand experiences are considered to have high E-E-A-T, as long as the content is trustworthy, safe, and consistent with well-established expert consensus.
Other key considerations for YMYL websites
E-E-A-T isn’t the only factor to bear in mind when investing in your online visibility as a YMYL brand. As the needs of the online audience continue to evolve, and with technology improving and broadening the opportunities to reach audiences via the web, YMYL sites will undoubtedly be investing in a wide range of activities to support their growth.
Particularly in sectors like insurance, brand loyalty can be difficult to achieve due to the fact that many purchase decisions are made on price.
In order to retain their customers beyond their renewal date, YMYL sites will need to invest in strategies to build up relationships with their customers beyond the time of original conversion.
Tactics that may be utilised in developing customer loyalty include:
- Email marketing; sharing valuable content with your customers on a regular basis will help keep your brand top of mind
- Social media; your use of social media as a brand, when done well, can help to maintain relationships with customers beyond what you have to sell
- Digital PR; because PR requires you to talk about topics other than solely the thing that you sell, it provides an opportunity to tap into other areas of interest amongst your audience
- Content marketing; the production of content to help/advise/entertain your audience will facilitate relationship building and potentially make you their brand of choice regardless of price
The use of personal recommendations is of particular importance for YMYL sites, where the opinion of a friend, family member or simply a trusted audience sector will instil confidence in potential converters.
Practically speaking, one tactic you might consider would be the use of referral schemes and referral fees.
You should also give thought to the use of ‘similar audiences’ and connections of converters when investing in social media advertising, as this will give you access to people who have an affiliation with those who previously bought from you. Craft a campaign which references the positive experience of someone’s friends or people similar to them, and you may find greater conversion rates and increased loyalty.
SERP feature optimisation
The creation of content isn’t solely about providing your audience with useful insight once on your site; when crafted effectively, your content can also occupy a greater portion of the Google search results pages (SERPs).
The increasing prevalence of featured snippets such as people also ask boxes gives opportunities to businesses in YMYL to provide valuable explanations of complex topics and answers to common questions.
Levels of E-E-A-T
E-E-A-T is a broad and nuanced spectrum, and it isn’t a simple case of saying whether a website complies or not; there are various levels. Google’s search quality rater guidelines provide guidance on what E-E-A-T looks like at these various levels. These levels are especially pertinent in cases of YMYL, as these sites should strive to showcase the very highest level of E-E-A-T in order to perform.
It is important to note that the majority of websites won’t have low E-E-A-T, provided the content and information on them is genuinely helpful and is not deliberately misleading. The very lowest E-E-A-T websites will look and read spammy, whereas the very highest E-E-A-T level will be difficult to achieve.
Naturally, webmasters will be keen to achieve the highest possible level of E-E-A-T as quickly as possible, but realistically it’s a gradual process of moving through the levels over time and this will generally mean years of building topical authority and sharing good knowledge that serves your audience at every step of their journey.
Pages with the lowest E-E-A-T will look and feel spammy to the human eye and often have a poor page experience for the user. Even though obstructed or obscured main content is more of a page experience consideration, it is also emblematic of untrustworthiness.
The following other characteristics are outlined in the QRG as signs of an untrustworthy page:
- Inadequate information about the website or content creator for its purpose.
- Deceptive purpose, deceptive page design, or deceptive intent.
- Characteristics of scams, malicious downloads, or other harmful behaviour.
- Any webpage or website designed to manipulate people into actions that benefit the website or other organisation while causing harm to self, others, or specified groups.
A website may lack E-E-A-T on a certain subject, despite a positive reputation elsewhere. This is where the importance of page and topical relevance comes in.
Low-quality pages are often the result of a lack of E-E-A-T for the specific topic or purpose of the page, such as a content creator lacking adequate experience or expertise, such as a restaurant review written by someone who has never eaten at the restaurant or an article on how to cook lasagne written by someone who has no expertise in the subject. Similarly, if the website or content creator is not an authoritative or trustworthy source for the page’s topic or purpose such as legal advice given on a cooking website or an ecommerce website without any secure payment information.
Websites with high levels of E-E-A-T will achieve and demonstrate a solid level of experience, expertise, authority and trust. Google describes these high E-E-A-T websites as news or government sites but also highly relevant videos, small business websites and blog posts.
Very high E-E-A-T
High E-E-A-T pages will satisfy search intent and will be home to high-quality, well-written articles with evidence of knowledge and expertise. Google expands upon this in the QRG by stipulating that the highest quality pages will differ significantly depending on the purpose, topic, and type of website. They give the following examples of the highest-quality original content:
Can you take E-E-A-T too far?
The concept of over-optimising can be a real thing in SEO marketing, whereby a page has been subjected to so many on-page optimisations to rank that it starts to detract from the user experience. But, does this also apply to E-E-A-T?
As with any SEO endeavour, it’s essential to put the user first. If, by including a load of information in the attempt to achieve the highest E-E-A-T signals, you are completely devaluing the purpose of the page and making it difficult for the user reading it to find what they are looking for, then you will most likely be doing more harm than good and Google will recognise this. Helpful content needs to be supplemented by these signals to reinforce its trustworthiness, not be drowned out.
Think about the appropriateness of what you are including on the page. If you are publishing a blog on car insurance for example, is it helpful for the user reading the content to be bombarded with constant reminders throughout the post reminding them that the author has the credentials to be regarded as an expert on the topic? Most certainly not.
The best way for webmasters to understand the appropriate level of E-E-A-T for their content and website is to read the relevant sections within the Quality Rater Guidelines and understand the way in which Google determines the best signals for demonstrating E-E-A-T for that particular type of content.
Fake E-E-A-T – what are the risks?
As with any element that influences ranking potential, certain groups of webmasters will naturally attempt to exploit or ‘trick’ Google, and as you would expect, fake E-E-A-T has been happening for a while.
Fake E-E-A-T includes but is not limited to the following:
- Fake author profiles with AI-generated profile pictures
- Claiming authors are experts in their field when they are not
- Stating that articles are fact-checked when they are not
- Listing a fake address
- Claiming that articles have been reviewed by qualified experts when they have not
Thankfully for users and those producing genuine high E-E-A-T content, Google has been quick to ensure these fake E-E-A-T pages/websites are not rewarded, and it appears many blatantly websites adopting this tactic were heavily impacted with the October 2023 Google core algorithm update.
High E-E-A-T takes time and patience to build, and any attempt to create fake signals to shortcut this will likely result in greater harm than good in terms of your SEO performance.
Evaluating E-E-A-T in content
One thing to bear in mind here is that there is no tangible E-E-A-T rating – which, in the SEO industry where we love to be data-driven, can be difficult to swallow – meaning it’s not something you can measure or monitor. Instead, we have to rely on common sense and what users think. At the end of the day, user engagement is what it’s all about!
With that said, there are some ways to measure E-E-A-T, but we’ll come back to that. For now, let’s consider the ways you can improve your E-E-A-T.
How to achieve technical excellence
The technical foundation of your site is more important than ever with E-E-A-T as a consideration.
You’ll want to be sure your website works as it should and in a secure manner. At its most basic level, you’ll need an SSL certificate in place, so that your website URL begins with HTTPS (the secure protocol) rather than HTTP. At a deeper level, it’s about making sure your site is hosted on secure servers, that it provides a secure experience for users (especially when it comes to payments) and that all data is secure on your site (using correct cookie implementations and so on).
Your site also needs to be fully accessible to users across devices and with different needs. Consider this to be the technical foundations to best serve the people who use your site; if there’s something that doesn’t work but should, now’s the time to get it fixed.
How to curate content for quality and relevance
The usability of your content will affect the perceived E-E-A-T too.
This isn’t to say that you need to be writing reams and reams of new content, nor that you must invest all of your budget in complex, long-form content pieces – necessarily.
Instead, it’s about auditing your existing content to ensure it best serves your target user. If that means reducing the complexity of the content, then do! Remember, people read online content very differently from the way they read a book or a report, so make it easy to skim, highlight important points using features like bold, italic or bullet points, and be sure to utilise visual graphics where it better communicates your point.
If your content is too thin though, you’ll likely also see the impact of this in the perceived E-E-A-T of your site – and not in a good way. Think of it like this; as an expert in your field, you should be able to cover every topic comprehensively but also in a way that your audience can fully understand.
A quick way to identify ‘thin content’ on your site is to look at Google Search Console for “Crawled, not indexed” pages, which suggests Google has reviewed and chosen not to store a page in its index nor serve it to users – these pages would be a good place to start your ‘thin content’ review.
Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines have an entire section on low-quality pages. It states that if a page has one or more of the below characteristics, the “Low” rating applies:
- An inadequate level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness
- The quality of the main content is low
- An unsatisfying amount of main content
- The title of the content is clickbait, intentionally shocking or exaggerated
- The ads or supplementary content distract from the main content
- There is an unsatisfying amount of website information or information on the content creator
- The website has a mildly negative reputation, based on extensive reputation research
The QRG goes on to say that they will consider content to be of low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, talent or skill. Pages will also be considered low if they have a small amount of content for the purpose of the page. Such as an encyclopaedia article on a very broad topic, such as World War II, that only has a few paragraphs.
Also, think about the authorship of your content. If it’s a standard web page, it’s important to consider how the credentials of the brand behind it are displayed and proven, and to utilise outbound/external links to reference high-quality, high-authority sources like government websites or academic reports where appropriate.
When it comes to something like a blog post, consider how the individual behind the post is represented and whether they communicate their message as fact or opinion. We have seen a number of sites now utilising peer reviews alongside outbound links to cite their sources, and more doing their own research/writing reports / achieving specific accreditations to further add to their credentials.
In addition to quality content, using schema.org structured data to inform content and give search engines more context for specific on-page attributes such as information about the authors and contributors, as well as the organisation itself to help add an extra layer of credibility. We’ll go into more detail on structured data and how it can support E-E-A-T and rankings later on in this guide.
How to demonstrate expertise
Another area to consider in your website’s E-E-A-T is the credibility and expertise of the authors behind not just your content by the representation of your brand around the web.
If your business lacks spokespeople, there’s the possibility that users – and Google – will question the voices behind the brand. Now, there may be legitimate reasons why you don’t have willing spokespeople and that’s fine, but if you can assign spokespeople for your brand, you’ll likely benefit.
One brand in the YMYL sector which has done this particularly well to date is Go Compare, which utilises niche-specific experts to represent their insurance types both on and off-site. In the image below, we see the use of Ryan Fulthorpe as a spokesperson for the car insurance part of the business:
If we then Google the name ‘Ryan Fulthorpe’, we see that Ryan has been Go Compare’s spokesperson in newspapers and across the web:
However, this focus on authorship should not be considered a ‘silver bullet’. It will not ‘fix’ all E-E-A-T issues and should therefore be considered as a tactic in correlation with broader PR-style activity. For example, thought leadership/guest posting is a valuable part of a ‘layered’ PR strategy, as explained in more detail here.
Of course, authorship isn’t solely a PR-driven consideration; the author of your content will likely be assessed by Google even when that person isn’t a spokesperson for your brand and simply exists as a partner who provides peer reviews of content to add to its credibility and attest to its accuracy.
We have seen sites in the YMYL space such as Healthline benefit from E-E-A-T updates. Winning sites generally tend to disclose who their authors are and utilise expert reviewers where possible. The screenshot below, taken from Healthline in September 2023, shows how the site is using ‘medical reviewers’ to ensure their content is accurate:
In fact, running a site search of Healthline.com in September 2023 and looking specifically for ‘medically reviewed’ reveals that over 78,000 articles exist on the site backed by a medical reviewer:
Google has not, at this time, specifically referenced this as a ranking factor – and it is valid to suggest it might use different signals for different sectors. That said, it is logical to see how, given the need for content accuracy in YMYL, such peer analyses are so important, whether that analysis comes from someone within your own team with the appropriate credentials or an external party.
How to build authoritativeness
The links that point to your website are a key factor in the way Google perceives your site and its relative authority amongst other sites. For this reason, it’s important you always maintain a natural and beneficial backlink profile that comprises quality websites with relevance and authority in your niche.
As E-E-A-T has grown in importance, so too has the need for a positive backlink profile. Gain links through unethical means, such as paid-for links or link exchanges, you’ll see the detrimental effects even more so than before. But invest in activities that earn you high-quality links from authoritative and trustworthy, industry-relevant sources through activities such as content creation and digital PR, and you’ll reap the rewards.
How to build trustworthiness
Another area where your trustworthiness as a brand is very clear is in the reviews and ratings provided by real users.
If appropriate, you might utilise a platform like TrustPilot or Google’s own Google My Business reviews to make sure that users – and Google – can quantifiably see how trustworthy your brand is.
Using structured data to support E-E-A-T
Using structured data properly can be beneficial in terms of E-E-A-T for a number of reasons.
Primarily, it helps establish and solidify the relationship between entities (records of knowledge regarding specific subjects such as people, objects or locations within a database e.g. Google’s Knowledge Graph), especially among the various places they are mentioned and discussed online.
Google itself has come out and said that this markup “helps” with understanding the content of the page while also gathering information about the web and the world in general by providing explicit clues about the meaning of the page and specific elements on it.
By using structured data, webmasters can help streamline Google’s ability to assess the E-E-A-T of a given page or website by reducing ambiguity among entities, creating new connections Google wouldn’t have otherwise made in its Knowledge Graph, as well as providing additional information about an entity that Google might not have obtained without the structured data.
Knowledge Graph and Google patent expert, the late Bill Slawski, explained why structured data is important in search:
“Structured data adds a level of preciseness that a search engine needs, and might not grasp, because it doesn’t have the common sense of a human.”
Without confidence about what entities are on a page, search engines may struggle to accurately assess the E-E-A-T of those entities and the page by proxy. With the proper use of structured data, you can remove any ambiguity which is undoubtedly important when evaluating E-E-A-T.
An example of this in practice is a situation where you have a person who is the subject of a page that shares a name with someone else. You can use the SameAs structured data property to point to a page on them on a knowledge base such as Wikipedia to make it clear which person you are referring to.
Structured data effectively spoon-feeds Google crucial information about the topics on your site as well as the individuals who contribute to it which enables it to accurately assess the trustworthiness and credibility of both the content and its creators.
Implementing structured data for E-E-A-T
There are several ways to implement structured data including Microdata and RDFa, but the most common way and preferred by Google is JSON-LD.
In terms of E-E-A-T, the method of implementation is far less important than the types of Schema marked up on the website. For E-E-A-T, webmasters should leverage as much information as possible about the credibility, reputation, and trustworthiness of the authors and experts who work for an organisation or contribute content to the website.
Structuring Schema correctly is vital to ensure that search engines can understand the various properties of a given entity and those properties’ relationships with other entities. This involves nesting schema whereby you specify which item properties belong to a certain item type.
Nesting Schema is important for search engines crawling the page to be able to get an understanding of the main entities on the page and their relationship to one another, eliminate the occurrence of multiple redundant or conflicting Schema types on the same page, as well as being able to easily read the resulting Schema from a Structured Data Testing Tool.
Schema types to use for improving E-E-A-T
There are a number of Schema types and properties that help send the right E-E-A-T signals about your website and contributors to search engines, and below are just a few of the most essential when it comes to showcasing your website’s overall trustworthiness:
- Person Schema
- Organisation Schema
- Author (Schema property)
- reviewedBy (Schema property)
- Citations (Schema property)
It’s important to remember that like E-E-A-T itself, structured data such as Schema is not a direct ranking factor, but with Google consistently encouraging its usage as much as possible to help search engines make sense of your site, it can only be presumed that by better understanding your content and the entities included, your site is better placed to demonstrate its E-E-A-T and quality signals.
Measuring and tracking E-E-A-T
It is very difficult to tangibly measure E-E-A-T. It is not a ‘rating’ that is measured by a number, nor something we can run through a tool and monitor over time.
However, there are clear proxies for E-E-A-T measurement that all brands investing in it should consider, including:
- Search rankings; how well your website ranks in the SERPs will be influenced by Google’s perception of your E-E-A-T, so any work you do to improve E-E-A-T should (where all else is equal) result in improved ranking positions
- Organic search traffic; your improved search rankings should result in increased organic traffic, especially where your E-E-A-T efforts improve the perception of your brand to encourage greater click-through rates
There are also engagement metrics that should be considered when investing in E-E-A-T because E-E-A-T is all about creating better experiences for your users. Therefore, you should also consider monitoring metrics like:
- Time on page; the amount of time a user spends digesting your content is often indicative of how involved in it they are and how useful it is to them – bear in mind that it can also suggest that the content is too difficult to get through, so consider this metric alongside others like how long it ‘should’ take to read and engagement rates
- Engagement rates; the propensity of users to exit your website after viewing just one page for a short amount of time is indicative of them either not enjoying the content, or it could be that your content has served its purpose without the need to move around – in the case of the former, invest in improving the content and in the latter, think about how to use structure to encourage people to move around your site and perform desired actions such as clicking through to a commercial page or submitting an enquiry form
- Conversion rates; the number of users who choose to complete desired actions – be that making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, submitting a form and so on – is an indicator of how compelling your website experience has been and how much they trust your brand
Qualitative feedback can also be helpful in assessing your E-E-A-T. Speak to your target audience, or distribute surveys amongst your colleagues to better understand how trustworthy real people think your brand is.
With something seemingly so important in modern-day search marketing that is not easily identifiable or measurable, E-E-A-T may appear to be an overwhelming concept for webmasters and content creators. Google looks at a multitude of factors to determine a website’s quality and trustworthiness and these are areas that cannot be built overnight. It requires a gradual and consistent process of curating specific areas of your site and reputation online to showcase strong expertise, experience and authoritativeness in your relevant industry or topic.
The important thing to remember is that while E-E-A-T considerations are certainly not to be ignored, especially for YMYL topics and industries, it isn’t a silver bullet for achieving the top ranking positions in search and should be part of a wider holistic SEO strategy. If you are creating original, high-quality content that serves the needs of your audience and is created primarily to provide users with valuable answers or information, you are already laying down the foundations for decent levels of E-E-A-T.