Sometimes, even Google just wants to eat. E-A-T, that is.
Modern search engine optimization is complex, but it boils down to a few important concepts. Above all, Google wants to make sure that websites ranked at or near the top of its search results are credible, based on facts, and authoritative. Enter EAT, a shorthand for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Google’s publications suggest that EAT is especially important for websites it calls “your money, your life”, which have a real impact on their readers’ physical and mental health. Examples range from online stores accepting credit card information to pages offering medical advice.
In an effort to protect its users, the search engine places a special emphasis on these sites following its EAT principle. But in reality, following the same principles matters just as much to any website, providing a good template for how to build your online presence and SEO efforts. Let’s dig in.
What is Google's EAT?
As described by Search Engine Land, EAT is “one of many guidelines that determines whether content (on a website) is valuable to readers, and whether it should rank well. It’s designed to indicate to Google’s algorithms whether a piece of content is actually beneficial to its readers, answering the explicit or implicit questions asked in their search queries.
Crucially, that doesn’t mean it’s an algorithm update or even a ranking factor on its own. There is no automated crawler that scores your website’s content on expertise, authority, or trustworthiness, and then ranks it accordingly.
Instead, it’s an internal guideline that helps Google’s internal evaluators and algorithm builders determine how to judge a website’s quality. That, in turn, means that understanding the EAT principles and organizing your website accordingly can go a long way toward building strong, SEO-optimized content.
Exploring the Expertise Portion of EAT
The first part of following Google’s EAT is making sure that you show off your knowledge on a specific subject. The search engine largely judges that knowledge based on a few factors:
- Your ability to describe your expertise on your website, like on an About Us page.
- The connection between your stated expertise and the topic you write about in a given piece of content.
- An in-depth understanding of the search intent that led visitors to a given piece of content.
- Links to relevant, primary sources on high-authority websites (more on authority below).
- The ability to go beyond the surface of the topic, while still keeping the content engaging.
Again, the key here is that because EAT is not a specific ranking factor, there isn’t a checklist to follow. These tips, though, can go a long way towards making sure that your expertise shines through.
Aspiring to Authority to Satisfy EAT Requirements
Beyond your own internal expertise, do you have the authority in your field to speak confidently on the subject? Are others citing you or linking to you on similar pieces of content? Answers to these types of questions determine how well Google judges you on the authority part of the EAT equation. You can get there through a few steps:
- Engage in strategic, white label link building to get more, and more credible, websites to link to your content.
- Create a strategy to increase your brand mentions on other websites. While not as authoritative as direct links, mentions can still boost your authority.
- Regularly disavow bad backlinks to your site from low-quality websites that might diminish your authority.
- Share your content on social media, and create engaging social posts that encourage others to share it.
- Look to boost your branded search volume, meaning searches from your target audience that include your brand’s name in the query.
As is the case with SEO in general, building authority in Google’s eyes is a long-term game. In the end, though, it’s well worth the effort and resources you put into it. The more authoritative your website becomes, the higher it will rise in relevant rankings.
Tailoring Your Website to Build Trustworthiness
The final piece of EAT can best be described as credibility. It’s Google’s way to estimate how much your audience can trust the information you give them. A lack of trustworthiness, in fact, might just mean that your rankings go down even if you have high levels of both expertise and authority.
Fortunately, you can increase your website’s trustworthiness in more than one way:
- Offer clear and easy ways for your audience to contact you with any questions or concerns, like a contact us form, phone number, and email address.
- List a physical location for your business, ideally consistent across both your website and any external profiles like your Google Business Profile.
- Manage your online reputation, encouraging positive reviews and responding to negative reviews on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, etc.
- Monitor negative brand mentions on social media and respond to questions and concerns.
Some of these steps are easy to take, and can be done one time for lasting impact. Others, like managing your online business reviews and interacting with social media brand mentions, are more comprehensive and require constant attention. All work together to signal to Google that your website, and the content on it, is trustworthy enough to rank highly in relevant results.
E-A-T SEO As a Gateway to Comprehensive Website Optimization
Is it too early to make another food pun? After all, following Google’s SEO guidelines means not just EATing anything. Instead, you have to EAT well in order to nourish your website’s long-term rankings and success.
The good news is that EAT actually provides a great framework not just for specific content, but your website’s SEO strategy in general. Because these guidelines are woven into most of Google’s ranking factors, following them means drastically increasing your optimization over time.
Getting there is not simple. It takes both time and ongoing effort. The rewards, though, can be significant. Even some surface-level digging shows that almost every page 1 search result follows these guidelines.
In other words, using EAT as a template for your SEO strategy might just be what you need to optimize your website for the long haul. And wouldn’t that be worth a good meal?