Everyone has to eat. Food is the fuel that keeps your body functioning.
Everyone has to eat. Food is the fuel that keeps your body functioning. But did you know that your marketing efforts have to eat too? Well, we say eat, but we mean E-A-T. Following extensive changes to Google’s algorithms in recent years, businesses must be fuelling their brands by regularly publishing content which builds their expertise, authority and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in their chosen industry / discipline. So what exactly is E-A-T content and how do you go about producing it? Read on to find out…
As we’ve explored in previous articles, marketers and businesses have always tried to game Google’s algorithms. Using tactics such as keyword stuffing, cloaking / invisible text, and paid links these marketers and businesses were for a short while able to get poor quality pages and sites to the top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). However, Google soon picked up on these issues and began to make changes to its algorithms that would remedy the situation – relegating poor quality content to the bottom of search results (where it belongs in our opinion!).
Which brings us to the algorithm change which is the subject of this article; Medic.
Rolled out in August 2018, the algorithm update garnered its physician-themed nickname as it initially seemed to impact websites offering health and medical advice (over and above any other topic).
However, it’s important to note that the change wasn’t confined to one algorithm update. Rather, it’s become an ongoing process of refinement on Google’s behalf to ensure that the right pages rank. And, most importantly for you and your business, it’s a change which has (and will continue to) impact on every website on the internet.
So, how exactly does this ongoing refinement work? What should you be doing to account for it in your digital marketing efforts?
Well, firstly you need to become familiar with some new terminology, acronyms and initialisms (yes, more marketing acronyms!):
The central theme of this article concerns E-A-T, an acronym introduced by Google to describe the kind of content it wants brands to publish online. Namely content which demonstrates Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness within your chosen industry / sector. (We’ll go into more depth on E-A-T later in this article).
This is a quality rating that stands for ‘Your Money or Your Life’. This relates to content which could have a direct impact upon a searcher’s happiness, health or wealth. If Google determines that your content falls within this bracket, then it will go to great lengths to assess whether your content is not merely relevant to the search query, but also provides correct and accurate information. In an age of fake-news and post-truth, Google wants to be certain that if it is recommending sites that could have a material impact upon a reader’s life, then that site is consistently demonstrating a high level of expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG) set out what Google considers to be high- or low-quality content. The Guidelines have been written for Google’s human rating team who spend their days performing hundreds of searches for important topics/queries and then evaluating those websites that appear at the top of searches. According to Moz, Google currently employs over 10,000 people to carry out these manual checks on websites, which in turn helps Google to refine its algorithm further. This feedback has a tangible impact upon Google’s algorithm. In 2017 alone, more than 2,400 changes were completed in response to evaluators’ feedback.
An important take-away from this is that if you’re looking to produce authority content that ranks at the top of SERPs, you need to be writing for humans, because it will be humans that are assessing how good (or not) your content is. Or to put it another way, there are no shortcuts for your content creation.
Google’s algorithm is clever. But it’s not so clever that it can determine (on its own) whether a piece of content is true or false. In order to determine the ‘truthfulness’ of a piece of content, Google’s algorithm relies upon ‘trust signals’; patterns which indicate that a piece of content is trusted by people who have expertise on that particular topic. To quote Google directly, “It (Google’s ranking system) is specifically designed to identify sites with high indicia of expertise, authority and trustworthiness.” If you’re looking to create authority content, you want other authorities within your industry to be linking to and talking about your content. That’ll help Google recognise and rank your site.
Shortly after the 2018 algorithm update Google made some additions to its ranking guidelines which stated that not only should their assessors be reviewing a website’s E-A-T score, but also a content creator’s E-A-T score too! It’s an additional ranking factor which you can leverage for your business; but it also means more work. You need to be attributing content on your website to an author, and developing author pages which include a biography, links to the author’s work on other sites, and including author schema markup (i.e. structured data which helps Google to connect the author to other authority signals such as author profiles on authority sites, social media channels etc).
These are some of the key factors and terms which influence how Google now ranks websites (and their content).
Let’s now take a more detailed look at each element of E-A-T.
You may be an industry-leading expert but to get your website to the top of SERPs you need to do more than getting your thoughts on a page.
Google wants you to demonstrate your expertise; but in such a way that is easily understandable, in a way that is engaging, in a way that is interesting.
The way we talk about this at Kenyons is: “They ask, you answer.”
Before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), ask yourself: “What is my audience searching for? What kind of questions are they seeking answers for?” Then, go a step deeper and try and understand the intent behind those searches. Think about where the searcher is likely to be in the buyer journey. They may well be looking for a detailed explanation of a product or service; but an explanation which makes sense to them and isn’t overly complex or jargon-heavy.
However, if you really want your content to be viewed as truly expert, then you also need to go a step beyond answering the searcher’s initial query. Think about the next queries a searcher may have – and answer those too. Ideally you should have a ‘funnel’ of content which is accessible and internally linked on your website.
Being an expert in Google’s eyes is to become the go-to source of information for your target audience(s).
Isn’t being an authority the same as being an expert?
You may be an expert within your industry or discipline, but if nobody is referring to you as such or nobody knows your level of expertise, then Google won’t see you as an authority.
So, when Google is looking to identify authorities in a particular subject, they are looking for brands, websites, web pages which are cited by other experts or influencers. Once your name becomes indelibly connected with your industry or discipline – then you’ll have reached authority status.
So far, so subjective.
How does Google actually measure the authority of a brand and their website?
How do you demonstrate your trustworthiness to Google? It’s not like you’re dealing with them face-to-face where it’s easy to demonstrate what a great brand you are…
Well, there are ways and means.
Google seems to use sentiment as its main source of information in judging how trustworthy a brand/website is.
If you want to complete the T in E-A-T then you’ll need to minimise any negative reviews you may be receiving on social media and review sites, as well as encouraging positive reviews and feedback on those same platforms.
Depending on what service or product your brand offers, here are few other tactics that will help Google to view you as trustworthy:
If you’ve read this far then hopefully you’re convinced that you need to be producing content which demonstrates Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s about serving the reader. The searcher. The person who, if they love your content, will likely become your next customer.
But getting content right is both an art and a science. As you’ll have just read, there are myriad factors which you need to account for if you are to be rewarded with those top SERP spots.
Luckily, you’ve landed in the right place, as Kenyons’ in-house content marketing team are experts at producing content that gets results.
Want to know more? All you have to do is send an email… firstname.lastname@example.org