According to the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of B2B marketers and 70% of B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. But not all content is good content. As more and more B2B companies invest in SEO content and content marketing campaigns, you must work smarter, not just harder, when creating content.
Building up your site’s reputation is about more than publishing tons of SEO articles in an attempt to trick Google’s search algorithm. Creating EEAT content is how you can work smarter and get maximum ROI from your B2B content investment.
What does the Google EAT acronym stand for in SEO?
The Google EAT acronym was created by Google and added to its Search Quality Guidelines to help website owners and Google’s quality raters determine whether the content is helpful and relevant. The acronym E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness which Google wants to be exhibited in top-ranking content.
Goodbye, Google E-A-T content. Hello, E-E-A-T content.
As part of its ongoing effort to encourage website owners and search engine professionals to create high-quality content, Google announced in 2022 that it was adding another E to the E-A-T acronym: Experience. Now, high-quality content must demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
As Google explains, “There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.” This announcement also included updates to Google’s quality rater guidelines that its teams use to assess the content quality of search results.
For example, Google’s quality raters are asked to answer the following question about a page’s main content:
- Does content demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as showing actual use of the product, visiting the place, or communicating a personal experience?
The addition of Experience to the Google EAT acronym comes on the heels of Gen Z’s emerging preference to search TikTok, Reddit, and other social media platforms before search engines like Google. Last year, TechCrunch shared that internal Google data showed 40% of younger consumers turned to TikTok or Instagram instead of Google Search or Google Maps.
An overview of Google EAT guidelines and Search Quality Rater criteria
Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines are a set of instructions and best practices used by Google’s team of human evaluators to assess the quality of search results. These guidelines are used to provide feedback to Google’s search algorithm to help improve the relevance and accuracy of search results for users.
It’s important to note that Google clearly says that “No single rater can directly impact how a particular webpage, website, or result appears in Google Search, nor can they cause specific webpages, websites, or results to move up or down on the search results page.” Instead, Google uses the feedback from its human quality raters to determine the helpfulness and relevance of Google search results for its users.
Google has focused on YMYL websites
Google’s E-A-T updates to its search quality guidelines, combined with its Helpful Content update to its search engine algorithm, are just some of the recent updates that Google has released to improve the rank of content that people find useful and relevant to their query.
In its search quality guidelines, Google places a particular emphasis on ensuring high-quality content related to YMYL topics. The acronym YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” and includes topics that can “significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society.”
In Google’s quality rater guidelines, it breaks down YMYL websites into the following categories to aid its team of search quality raters:
- YMYL Health or Safety: Topics that impact a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health, physical health, or online safety.
- YMYL Financial Security: This category includes YMYL websites that discuss topics that impact a person’s ability to support themselves and their families.
- YMYL Society: This group of YMYL websites cover topics that negatively impact groups of people, issues of public interest, and trust in public institutions.
- YMYL Other: This category of YMYL websites covers topics that could hurt people or negatively impact the welfare or well-being of society.
Understanding EAT guidelines can help you avoid using worthless metrics like word count or a certain number of images to assess your content’s performance. Instead, you can focus on building an authoritative website with accurate, trustworthy, and helpful content – without worrying that you’ll lose to people producing low-quality content and trying to game Google’s search quality rater guidelines.
Page quality considerations
Google’s guide for human raters includes instructions for rating the quality of webpages based on specific criteria and assigning it a score based on the page quality. Every page is ranked on a scale between Highest and Lowest.
The following E-A-T areas are considered and used to determine Page Quality Rating:
- The purpose of the page: If a webpage is obviously harmful or designed to trick users as to its purpose, it will receive the lowest rating. If a page is clear and helpful for users, it will trend toward the highest end of the spectrum.
- The potential for the page to cause harm: Within this category, pages that contain spammy content or content that can cause harm to people will be rated Lowest.
- The page topic and extent of YMYL relevance: Pages that have content included within YMYL categories will be held to a higher standard of E-A-T guidelines.
- The type of website: Page quality is assessed differently depending on whether the website is a hobbyist or corporate site, whether it collects financial or personal information (like online stores), and whether the content was created by volunteers or professionals.
- Self-descriptive E-A-T information from authors themselves: While Google notes that an author’s description of their expertise is hardly authoritative, it does admit that it can be a great starting point for human raters to perform reputation research to objectively assess the author’s experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
- The quality of the page’s main content and how well it achieves the stated goal: We’ll talk more about Main Content in the next section, but for now it’s enough to note that this is a scoring consideration for E-A-T guidelines. Is your content quality a priority or does it come in second to word count or keyword stuffing? Your E-A-T score will tell the story.
- The page title: The title of a webpage is considered part of the page’s main content, which means its relevance and helpfulness to the page’s purpose is considered during E-A-T and quality assessment.
- How ads or sponsored content impact the user experience: Google specifically states that it is concerned with the impact of advertisements or paid content on the user’s experience of a webpage, and does not penalize a website’s ranking or E-A-T score if it has ads or sponsored content.
- The results of reputation research on the author(s) and website: This aspect of E-A-T guidelines concerns the online reputation information of your website and its authors.
Main Content, Supplementary Content, and tips for quality in both
Within its search quality guidelines, Google defines Main Content as “any part of the page that directly helps the page achieve its purpose.” Next is Supplementary Content, which is content that either helps a page fulfill its purpose or detracts from the overall user experience.
For example, if I publish a blog post about pizza, the main content would be the blog post and the supplementary content would include the navigation menu for the website that appears on the page, as well as the footer and the suggested articles following the end of the article.
Here are the E-A-T guidelines Google’s page quality reviewers use to determine Main Content quality:
- Effort: This criterion measures the amount of human effort involved in the creation of a page’s Main Content. This can vary since an online calculator requires more development work initially and a forum can be the effort of hundreds of people, not just one person. So, it’s best to think of this aspect of Main Content quality as a standard for weeding our auto-generated spam.
- Originality: Along with auto-generated websites, Google also dislikes massive copy-paste campaigns that recycle content from other websites with little commentary or new information added.
- Talent or Skill: This third aspect of E-A-T guidelines for Main Page content asks whether a page was created with sufficient expertise to be of use to people and fulfill their needs.
- Accuracy: For YMYL sites, accuracy is paramount and Google’s E-A-T raters are asked to compare information on YMYL websites with the opinions of well-established professionals within the specific industry.
Assessing the reputation of a website and content creators
Reputation is a primary concern within Google’s algorithm, especially when it comes to assessing the everyday expertise of authors on company websites and YMYL sites. Here is an overview of the instructions given to Google quality reviewers for YMYL websites:
- Check what independent organizations and publications have to say about the website and author.
- Look for mentions in credible, established industry publications, if applicable to the website. Google’s reviewers are told to search other websites for mentions of the website or its authors. This points to the importance of obtaining high-quality backlinks for your website.
- Validate any self-described titles or achievements with the sentiment and references made by journalists, peers, and other websites about the site or author.
- Pay attention to the content of positive and negative reviews, not just the rating. Google instructs its teams to discern whether a bad review is from a disgruntled customer or a one-off bad interaction with staff, or if it’s indicative of negligence or wrongdoing on the company’s part.
Scoring expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness
The Google E-A-T guidelines are an essential part of its Page Quality Guidelines. It measures experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness by asking reviewers to ask the following questions of webpages:
- Experience: To determine Experience, raters are asked to consider the extent that content creators have had first-hand experience with the topic at hand. This can be particularly important for product reviews.
- Expertise: This category of E-A-T guidelines considers the expertise of the author and asks whether the quality rater deems the author to have the necessary familiarity and everyday expertise with a topic to produce content about it.
- Authoritative: This E-A-T category determines whether a website is an authority on a particular topic. For a driver’s license or passport change, a government website is the most authoritative site. But, for a small business, the business’s website is often the most authoritative source.
- Trustworthiness: How accurate, honest, safe, and reliable is the website? The standard for determining trustworthiness varies depending on the type of site. Online stores should have secure online payment and product reviews should be accurate so they help buyers make purchasing decisions. Informational YMYL pages should be accurate to avoid misinformation and harm to users.
What is a low-quality page, according to Google E-A-T guidelines?
Just like other search engines, Google is concerned with providing users with the most helpful content that is relevant to their search query. When asking about low quality according to Google guidelines, remember that the new E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This means that a low-quality page is one that:
- Has a harmful purpose or is designed to trick people as to its true purpose.
- Contains content that is harmful or misleading to the user or others.
- Is hacked, defaced, or otherwise altered to be confusing and nonsensical for users.
- Shows very little human effort involved in its creation, such as auto-generated content or content that was copied from other websites.
- Has Main Content that is fully or partially hidden from users due to sponsored content or paid advertisements on the page.
- Has an online reputation for malicious, harmful, or inaccurate information (specifically applicable to YMYL websites).
What is a medium-quality page, according to Google E-A-T guidelines?
Unlike low-quality pages, Google considers medium-quality pages as those that have a purpose that is beneficial for users and contains Main Content and Supplementary Content that achieves that purpose. This means that a medium-quality page:
- Contains content that is unlikely to cause harm to self or others.
- Meets the standard of Trust that is relevant to its category as a YMYL or non-YMYL website.
- Have page titles that clearly and accurately summarize the content.
- Has advertisements and sponsored content, if applicable, do not impede or disrupt the user’s experience of the Main Content or Supplementary Content.
- Has sufficient information about the website and content creator to determine the author’s expertise and experience with the page’s topic.
- Shows clear signs of being created with a sufficient amount of skill, effort, and originality to achieve its stated purpose.
What is a high-quality page, according to Google E-A-T guidelines?
To increase the rank of your B2B content, you should strive to align your website and content with the requirements of a high-quality page. This is because you will likely fall within a YMYL categorization and will consequently be held to a higher standard than non-YMYL websites. Be sure to create a website that:
- Contains content that has a beneficial purpose to your audience and will not cause them harm.
- Meets the standard of Trust that is relevant to its category as a YMYL or non-YMYL website.
- Has a page title that clearly and accurately summarizes the Main Content.
- Has advertisements and sponsored content, if applicable, do not disrupt the user’s experience of the Main Content or Supplementary Content.
- Provides enough information about you, your company, and other content authors to determine your expertise and experience with the Main Content’s topic.
- Is created with the proper amount of skill, effort, and originality to achieve your purpose.
- Has a very positive reputation online, with numerous high-quality backlinks and favorable mentions from credible publications and respectable newspapers.
Needs Met Rating Guidelines for E-A-T Purposes
Google uses a “Needs Met” rating scale to help website reviewers score the helpfulness and relevancy of a website’s Main Content to a searcher’s query or “need,” based on the following categories:
- Fully Meets Need (FullyM): All or almost all users will be immediately satisfied by the result and will not need to view other results to satisfy their needs.
- Highly Meets Need (HM): Helpful for many or most users, though some may want to see additional search results.
- Moderately Meets Need (MM): Helpful for some users, although many users will want to check additional results.
- Slightly Meets Need (SM): There is a connection between the content and the query, but it is not sufficient to fully address the query. Most users will want to see additional results.
- Fails To Meet Need (FailsM): All or almost all users will want to see additional search results because the content does not address the searcher’s query.
Is E-A-T a ranking factor for Google?
Every time Google updates its algorithms to refine the quality of its search results, website owners and SEO professionals everywhere try to determine the extent to which the update will impact search rank positions. Initially, E-A-T was synonymous with Page Quality, but Google has now updated its guidelines to show E-A-T as being one aspect or criteria for determining Page Quality.
But is E-A-T a direct ranking factor?
In Google’s Core Update article, it posted the following notice about an alleged E-A-T score or E-A-T as a ranking factor:
“Since we originally wrote this post, we have been occasionally asked if E-A-T is a ranking factor. Our automated systems use a mix of many different signals to rank great content. We’ve tried to make this mix align with what human beings would agree is great content as they would assess it according to E-A-T criteria. Given this, assessing your content in terms of E-A-T criteria may help align it conceptually with the different signals that our automated systems use to rank content.”
In short, although E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, you should make every effort to align your content with Google’s guidelines to increase your chances of outranking competitors who are likely investing in their SEO as well.
How to create EAT content Google ranks and customers love
As Google continues to focus on ranking authoritative websites, you can improve the ranking factor of your website’s E-A-T adherence by improving E-A-T elements throughout your website. This way, when quality raters assess your website page quality, you can pass their inspection.
Increase each author’s E-A-T criteria adherence
Since Google’s quality rater guidelines focus on ranking high-quality content that shows everyday expertise, you must improve each author’s E-A-T relevance by showing accreditation, certificates, role-related titles, and post-nominal letters like Ph.D.
You can also leverage author expertise by describing their personal experiences and proven track record related to your main page content. For example, lawyers can discuss cases won and manufacturers can discuss project specification challenges and how they overcame them.
If your staff happens to publish original research or unique content on other websites, be sure to ask for high-quality backlinks from those websites to support your link-building efforts. Wherever you mention that author’s name on your website, adjust your internal linking to link back to their author profile on your website.
Refine your E-A-T content quality to meet Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines
Most companies err in one of two ways when it comes to creating SEO articles:
Either they create content with low page quality that inserts keywords into every spot imaginable (Google calls this “keyword stuffing”). Or, they create factually accurate content that isn’t optimized for search and consequently doesn’t get the deserved traction.
In your content, you can avoid either scenario by creating content Google quality raters view as high-quality pages. A good guideline for what Google refers to as high-quality content is a Wikipedia page.
Specifically, you can take the following actions:
- Link to credible sources when making an assertion within each page’s main content. For example, if we say 98% of people check online reviews for local reviews, we would link back to local SEO software BrightLocal’s 2023 Local Consumer Review Survey since this company expends significant resources to publish its original research.
- Cite quotes from relevant, credible experts and publications that are relevant to your topic. For example, an SEO article might refer to articles on blogs like Search Engine Land or Search Engine Journal.
- Keep your content fresh and up to date. Just like each Wikipedia page is continually updated to reflect the most recent information, you can demonstrate E-A-T by regularly reviewing your page for outdated information and updating it.
Communicate your honest perspective to build trust with your audience
A word of caution is in order: If you create content solely to meet EAT guidelines, you may end up producing content that lacks originality, quality, and relevance.
For example, if your authors copy and paste content from credible and authoritative websites, or parrot the popular opinion without adding any personal commentary, you may damage the trustworthiness and relevance of your content.
Or, if your content is not aligned with your company’s honest perspective, it may damage your company’s credibility and authority in your industry.
Instead, create content that reflects your authentic perspective or invites reasonable discussion from your peers about your industry and services or products. When you do this, you will establish your website as a credible source within your industry and gain the trust of your target audience and peers.
Content that is unique, informative, and relevant to your industry or service will attract more visitors to your website. It may also increase backlinks since divergent perspectives tend to accumulate mentions from bloggers and news outlets.
Offer proof points to fulfill the Expertise part of Google E-A-T
In marketing, proof points are examples that support your claims about the quality, importance, and uniqueness of your company and its products or services. While proof points look different for every industry, here are some examples you can use a website owner:
- Professional awards or certifications that your company or individual staff have won for a particular accomplishment.
- User-generated content like Google or Yelp reviews or photos from social media users raving about your company. Showing this type of third-party content on your website is an excellent way to build expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness and comply with Google’s search quality rater guidelines.
- Studies and statistics that underscore your point and lend credibility to its truthfulness. Link to the most recent information since freshness is a prominent ranking factor, particularly for YMYL websites.
- Descriptions of challenges you’ve overcome. For example, you can create case studies that show the problems customers faced, describe the methodology you followed to address those problems, and highlight the results they achieved because of your work.
Build your online reputation through link-building and structured data markup
Just like in real life, your website reputation is built on content created by customers (like positive reviews and negative reviews) and links from authoritative sites and site domains. For example, if you’re discussing medical topics, you’d want links to and from credible medical sites.
Another indirect way to build your reputation information is through structured data markup (also called schema). Although this is a highly technical task and not a direct ranking factor, it does increase your chances of appearing in Google’s knowledge panel for questions related to your topic. Google’s page on schema explains why:
Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page.
There are many types of schema markup you can use to increase your website’s E-A-T adherence while also increasing your position in search results. Here are a few schema examples:
- Article: lets you describe each article’s meta information to the Google algorithm so it understands when and how to display them to searchers.
- Breadcrumb: improves the page quality by making it easier for human quality raters to understand how pages relate to your main page content.
- Q&A: Answering questions from customers is a less formal expertise tactic that is nonetheless valid and aligned with Google’s quality raters guidelines.
Ready to create content Google (and your customers) love?
The E-A-T content guidelines Google introduced have prompted numerous discussions in the SEO community and spawned many articles on blogs like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land as SEO professionals discuss the minutia surrounding E-A-T.
But one thing is clear: Google’s algorithm will continue to reward websites that follow its E-A-T guidelines for conveying experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Are you interested in an SEO strategy that aligns with Google E-A-T updates and demonstrates your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness to Google? We provide site audits, help with schema, and many more marketing services that are designed to improve your competitive position online. Visit our SEO services page, then contact us to discuss your specific project.