Whether trying to buy a car or looking for legal advice, you want to have confidence that the information you are reading is accurate and comes from a trustworthy source. Google, the world’s most used search engine, wants the same thing. In today’s search pages, Google doesn’t just want to serve users with relevant information, but also the most correct and effective search results. This is particularly true if your site discusses topics about happiness, health or wealth.
How do you know what information Google considers important when determining high-quality content? In this article, we will cover the basics of E-A-T SEO and Your Money or Your Life websites, as well as actionable steps you can use to make your website as trustworthy as possible.
What is E-A-T SEO?
E-A-T Stands for experience, authority and trust. While not a confirmed ranking factor, studies have shown that websites that make updates based on E-A-T guidelines can, over time, improve rankings over their competitors.
According to Google’s Gary Illyes, Google does not have a single score for E-A-T. It is not an individual ranking factor but is instead made up of many algorithms that determine page usefulness, correctness and relevancy in Google’s core algorithm.
What are Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites?
Any pages with topics that could potentially impact a person’s happiness, health, financial situation or safety are considered YMYL pages.
Examples of YMYL page topics include:
- News and current events
- Government and law
- Health and safety
Considering E-A-T for your Content Strategy
The goal of E-A-T SEO is to build a strategy based on providing the most trustworthy, high-quality information to your users. When you do this consistently, you build up authority in your industry, both with users and Google. Over time, you prove your website and writers to be experienced in the space.
When considering E-A-T and what it means for your website, it is important to understand that it is not a replacement for technical SEO. It is also not the only factor affecting your website during algorithm updates.
E-A-T is not a quick or easy thing to add to your content plan. You are also unlikely to see an immediate boost in website performance like you can with technical SEO fixes.
Practical Steps for Your E-A-T Strategy
There are factors that can help establish your business as trustworthy and authoritative, even if you have a smaller, newer website.
Include a Clear Owner or Author in an Easy to Find Place
Google’s Rater Guidelines states that unless there is a reason for anonymity, a website is considered untrustworthy if there is no information about the owner. Your website should include an easy way to contact your business and be transparent about any privacy or customer service policies.
Your website might benefit from one or more of these page types:
- Contact pages with phone number, physical address, email or contact form
- Return policy
- No show/no call policy
- Billing and/or insurance policy
- Term and conditions
- Awards and accolades
Editorial Policies & Ad Quality
An editorial policy shows your users how you conduct business with affiliates and advertisers. Having editorial standards helps you establish and uphold your reputation as a trustworthy information source.
Important factors to include in an editorial policy for any business:
- How do you fact-check and review content?
- How do you determine which citations you will use and ensure that they are trusted resources?
- If you have sponsored content or ads, how do you differentiate that from organic content?
- Are there specific products or services that you will not endorse?
Experts as Writers
When writing on topics that fall into the YMYL category, hire subject matter experts with experience in his or her field to give your content more credibility. You should also add an author bio to showcase the writer’s expertise.
An author’s bio should include:
- Relevant experience and skills
- A link to the author’s website or LinkedIn profile
- The role of the expert. Are they an editor, researcher or copywriter?
Grammar: Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s
Have you ever read an article and seen a typo or a sentence structure that was just slightly off? Did it make you question the legitimacy of the website, business or author? For most users, it will.
Google has previously stated that grammar is not a ranking factor and that there are better ways to determine low quality. However, if users are expecting a certain standard of writing, their behavior will indicate to Google if your web page is the best for answering their queries.
Create Content that Follows Scientific Consensus
Pages that directly contradict well-established medical consensus are considered low authority and will likely suffer in search engines.
According to Google’s Search Rater Guidelines, “Users need high-quality information from authoritative sources when researching products, especially when products… represent a major investment/important life event.” It also states the “YMYL content that contradicts well-established expert consensus” falls under the category of pages that potentially misinform users.
Reputation and Online Sentiment
Reviews and ratings matter everywhere because users are only interested in seeing top rated companies in their searches. If you go to Google and type “Best BBQ Restaurant” you will see that the local knowledge graph is set by default to only show restaurants with a rating of four or more. How much potential business could you be losing if your star score is below that standard?
If you have negative reviews or a low-quality BBB profile, it is worth your time to clean up your review profile to improve your rankings, particularly in local searches.
Link & Citation Quality
Google’s algorithm grades each page on a website and it is given a score called PageRank. Part of this calculation is backlinks. If you have backlinks from websites with high PageRank, it is a signal that your content is widely considered trustworthy and an authority on a given topic.
The opposite is also true. If you have links to your website from low-quality sites, it could be part of the reason why your webpage is not ranking well.
This also applies to external links. Include high-quality citations in support of your copy with facts from trusted resources, and make sure that these websites follow your organization’s quality guidelines. As a rule, good websites usually link to other good websites. Spammy websites do not.
In today’s digital landscape, it is not enough for content to be relevant to a user’s search query. It must be useful. If your content is old and there have been changes since it was published, determine if the content is worth updating.
If the content is on a topic that will never change, consider changes in the search landscape. Are users more likely to be using voice search to find this information? Is the page optimized for desktop when your visitors are on mobile? Are you utilizing structured data markups to give your page the best chance to appear as a featured snippet?
Sometimes, updating old content, particularly if it was a profitable page for your business, can help increase your website’s search engine reach.
If your YMYL website also generates phone calls or other leads, it is vitally important to consider E-A-T factors in your content. If your content is meant to sell, it stands to reason that you are not also educating your users with 100% trustworthiness. Your webpage is likely fostering a viewpoint that is putting your service or product in the best light, which may not be what is considered most useful for the user.
When writing a page, determine its primary objective early and ensure that you are adhering to the guidelines for that type of content throughout the creation process.
Focus on Long-Lasting Benefits Instead of Quick Wins
We are past the time where tricks and quick wins will take our websites to the top of search engines. The good news is that the time you spend upfront focusing on on-page quality and building true authority for your brand will have positive, long-lasting benefits. It will also make it easier, over time, to see the positive impacts of your digital marketing strategy.
If you are interested in content marketing, contact Lucid Advertising today at 850-760-0478.