E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Starting with the Medic update in 2018, Google has been trying to make those factors increasingly more important in judging the quality of a page.
The higher your E-A-T, the bigger the chance your page will rank high in related search results. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, and a great E-A-T rating needs some work.
Below I broke down the key changes you can make to your website to “impress the quality raters” and improve your E-A-T.
Google E-A-T guidelines
The QRG, or Search Quality Rater Guidelines, is a lengthy document Google first published back in 2015 to make their quality ratings more transparent. It is a manual designed to show Quality Raters how to judge the quality of a page.
Google has never stated that the ratings impact the search results directly. It has been confirmed, however, that information gathered during this process is fed into Google algorithm updates.
A page can receive anything from a “Lowest” to “Highest” quality rating. It’s worth investing some time to get to know the document to know how to improve your website’s quality.
When it comes to your E-A-T however, I’ve got you covered. In this article, I am hoping to give you concise tips you take on to improve your E-A-T rating. If you want to know more about the background or theory behind the concept, check out my What is E-A-T? in-depth analysis.
E-A-T content quality checklist
Here are some tips that will improve every site’s E-A-T rating when applied.
Some topics, like medical and legal, may have more requirements than for other sites, but we’ll talk about that in more detail below.
Nonetheless, these 11 methods are essential to make sure your page is of good quality as understood by Google. Let’s dive in.
⌧ Let the users know who you are
Create “About” and “Contact” pages for your website. Include the following information:
- Does the website represent a person, organization, business, or company?
- What is your area of expertise?
- What makes you or your collaborators qualified to provide information on your chosen topic?
- Have you received any awards or prizes for your work in this area?
If you don’t know how to place such information on your site, here’s a great example from Mayo Clinic.
⌧ Choose the right content creators
Make sure the people who are working towards building your great content are skilled and knowledgeable about what they are writing about or creating.
- If you are providing information about guitar playing, make sure the creators can play the guitar.
- If you are reviewing a product or service, the creator should have some experience with that product.
- If you are reviewing a destination spot, find someone who has physically been there.
Business Insider does a great job in this area.
⌧ Credit your experts
Each blog entry and article should clearly state who the author is. You can do this either at the top or bottom of the text.
Include your creator’s experience, skills, or education in the field of interest. Photos go a long way. Adding links to their websites can further prove your trustworthiness. Talk to your experts about including contact information so that users can be confident that they are real people they can reach out to.
Have a look at this article from The Guardian. The author and her Twitter handle are easily accessible, and you can quickly access other pieces she wrote for The Guardian.
⌧ Lay out your editorial process clearly
Make good use of your “About” page. It’s also a good idea to create a separate page to make clear what the editorial process is like.
- Who does research?
- Who creates the content?
- How is the information verified?
Investopedia is a great example of this.
⌧ Let your users know where the money comes from and where it goes
A high-quality page needs funding. Even if you are a non-profit organization, you are likely going to have to pay writers and experts to create content. You may even be paying for advertising.
In order to make this possible, you have to make money. There is nothing wrong with ads or sponsorships, and Quality Raters are instructed not to penalize pages for this. Just make it clear where money is coming from, where it is going, and which content is sponsored.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness goes a step further and even publishes its financial reports.
Build up your trustworthiness by providing quotes and sources of your information. Let your users know the stuff they are reading is backed up by research, studies, queries, or any other real-life data.
It may seem counter-productive to link to websites that are ranking high in your niche, but that way you are letting Google know the facts you’re presenting are consistent and well-researched. Your job is to make sure that the content you create is better than your competitors’.
Any article on Healthline that quotes studies or surveys clearly links out to the source of data. This way claims about findings are not just “to be trusted”, but have clear support from third-party pages such as Wiley Online Library or NCBI.
⌧ Make great content
Make sure the content you create is 10x better than anything else out there.
No matter how great your design, marketing, or outreach program, if your content is thin, auto-generated, misleading, or copied from somewhere else, Google won’t rank it high.
Avoid practices such as keyword stuffing and click-baiting. Google wants to show users great, quality content, and having that content is the only way to get organic traffic.
Make sure your page has a purpose. All content you create should be cohesive and authoritative. Don’t publish random articles on topics your users aren’t going to be interested in.
A great way to rank high in search is to have users return for more information. And why would they return? Because they know what kind of queries you are likely to answer well!
⌧ Present other points of view
Do not be biased with your content. One-sided copy and pages may be deemed of low quality, especially if they pertain to YMYL topics.
If you are reviewing products or services make sure to include pros and cons sections. Reach out to different experts and specialists to provide opinions. Let your users know if there are downsides to the tips you provide.
This Bankrate article is a good example, as it includes a “risks” section after each investment idea.
⌧ Take care of your reputation
Encourage your customers and clients to leave reviews on third-party websites like Yelp.com. During their reputation research, Quality Raters are instructed to examine what opinions are going around about your business or site.
A few negative reviews are not necessarily a bad thing. There is hardly a company out there that has left 100% of their customers satisfied. A lack of critical opinions and reviews is telling.
If your page has been featured or linked to on a website that is considered of poor quality, contact them to remove the information. Association is a big part of trustworthiness. As it turns out, there actually is something called bad press.
⌧ Format your ads and sponsorships clearly
All sponsored content should be easily distinguishable from the rest of your website. Advertisements should not distract from the purpose of the page. Pop-up ads that are annoying and hard to switch off are a big no-no.
Make sure you review the content your partners provide, as it should not be
- offensive, or
A marketing policy available to the public is also a good idea, as partners can review it before asking you to collaborate.
Making quality content may come with free publicity, as other sites will want to use it to raise their own trustworthiness. This is the last point of the checklist, but you should keep it in mind along the way.
“Your money, your life” and E-A-T
YMYL, or, your money, your life pages should pay special attention to E-A-T factors. The process of rating quality on such pages is significantly harsher.
This is because this kind of content can impact a person’s finances or happiness, and Google does not want to be responsible for ranking misleading or damaging information high.
YMYL topics include:
- medical advice
- the financial sector
- news and current events
- civics and government
- groups of people
as per Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines.
Here are four main YMYL categories and the unique things they should take extra care of.
All medical content has to be incredibly accurate and up-to-date. The information must be either created by doctors or experts with medical degrees or at least thoroughly reviewed by them.
The texts must be written in a professional and formal style. Links to studies help raise trustworthiness a great deal, as users don’t have to rely on your word with each claim.
The biggest concern for news outlets is that they should all be up-to-date and factual. If the website isn’t updated regularly, perhaps even daily, it’s hardly a “news” outlet.
Quote your sources and provide evidence for your claims. Spreading misinformation can cause irreparable damage to your page’s credibility.
Tips and advice on any money-related topics have to come from trustworthy sources. Experience and professionalism are key. Make sure your writers know what they are talking about and that their words can be trusted.
Users interested in information on stocks and investments may be juggling large amounts of money. In order to have them trust you and return to your website for more information, you have to be sure the tips you provide are going to pay off.
Any website that asks for credit card details or money in any way must have a secure connection. Using HTTPS is an absolute must-have in the eCommerce sector.
Return and exchange policies must be clearly laid out.
Review sections are important.
User content such as pictures of products they have purchased go a long way.
For example, if you are selling clothes, users are going to be interested in how true-to-size the items are. You may not be able to present this yourself for each product.
Customers, on the other hand, are often ready to provide such information for free. It’s a win-win situation!
There is no magic checklist Google provides as a recipe for a top-ranking website. There are, however, many things you can do to adhere to Quality Rater Guidelines, and improving your E-A-T score is a good stepping stone. Raising your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness lets the quality of your page speak for itself.
You can definitely think of quality as a ranking factor, and showing E-A-T is an important element of quality, especially for your money or your life pages.
While high quality doesn’t mean your visibility will be off the charts, a low-quality rating is sure to hurt your website.
I hope this checklist will help you bear what’s important in mind while creating the best possible content. You can download this website improvement checklist as a PDF to make auditing your own texts easier.