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BruceClay – E-A-T and SEO: You Can’t Have One Without the Other

Expertise, authority and trust. Three little words with big implications when it comes to your website and search engine rankings.

Each letter in E-A-T represents a concept around quality. And they are all tied together. Like the anatomy of a human body, one system does not exist without impacting another.

And, E-A-T cannot exist without SEO. Quality SEO creates websites that embody expertise, authority and trust. Here, I’ll discuss how interconnected each of the factors in E-A-T are, and four times when an SEO strategy supports E-A-T.

E-A-T Primer

E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, came about in a little manual called the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG, also called the Quality Raters Guidelines). The information Google provides in these guidelines gives major clues on how E-A-T contributes to the kind of sites the search engine wants to rank.

Let’s go over the basics of E-A-T using some of the information in Google’s SQEG, along with my insights …

Expertise is a page-level assessment and considers the expertise of the content creator and the content creation process itself.

Here, you want to make sure it’s clear who wrote the content and what their credentials are. What makes them an “expert” on the topic? Another thing to consider is how similar or different your content is compared to other expert, high-quality webpages.

Authoritativeness builds on expertise, and considers the following:

To achieve authority, you must be a recognized expert in your field, whether we’re talking about a brand or a person. And, of course, you can’t be an authority without first being an expert.

Links and mentions across the web are also an important contributor to authority, though not directly mentioned in the SQEG.

Trustworthiness builds on expertise and authority, and considers:

Trust is about reputation. When you are an expert and authority, trust matters and is intrinsically connected. For example, does this expert and authority practice what they preach? Do they provide value and a good experience?

Google explains further in the SQEG:

A website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users, as well as the opinion of people who are experts in the topic of the website. Keep in mind that websites often represent real companies, organizations, and other entities. Therefore, reputation research applies to both the website and the actual company, organization, or entity that the website is representing.

Now that we’ve got a refresh on E-A-T, let’s look closer at how an SEO strategy supports it.

4 Times Your SEO Strategy Supports E-A-T

1. When You Put Content on Your Own Website, Not Others

We believe that your content should be on your own site as a part of a larger “demonstrating expertise” program.

Contributing content to other websites should be a hobby. And it should be a hobby that happens only after you create quality content for your own site.

If you can’t take care of your own site before you start tending to others’, then you have a big SEO problem.

The more quality content you put on other websites, the more you make those sites an authority, not your own. And the more you drive traffic and revenue to those sites, not yours. This is a put-your-own-mask-on-first kind of situation.

Remember: When writing content for your site, it must be written by experts to receive the trust it needs.

2. When You Have a Link-Earning Program, Not a Link-Building Program

We believe that links should only be earned and not placed to be authentic. Only then will authority be recognized by Google. So focus on link earning instead of link building.

If enough relevant and quality sites naturally link to your website with favorable sentiment towards your brand, your site becomes a more trusted authority by association. So you want the best sites, not the most, linking back to you.

Remember: Earned links must be from trusted sites to count the most.

3. When You Have Positive Sentiment

We believe that trust is earned through consistent positive behavior resulting in positive sentiment about your site and brand.

Trust is a big deal to Google, and it can impact a website’s performance. One way Google may determine trust is by evaluating user ratings, reviews and sentiment. The solution? Watch your reviews and sentiment online, then repair problems when they arise.

4. When You Have a Well-Designed Website

We believe that unless a website is designed and built in a specific way through SEO architecture, the search engines will not see you as worthy of a “subject matter expert.”

SEO siloing is a way to organize your website content based on the way people search for your site’s topics. The goal is to make a site relevant for a search query so that it has a better chance of ranking.

Siloing is a great way to prove E-A-T to both the search engines and your visitors.

As a result of this strategy:

E-A-T Is for Every Website

To summarize, expertise, authority, trust and SEO all are tied together. And you cannot succeed at any without them all.

All websites (even small businesses) should aim for E-A-T. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. As a quick example to demonstrate this, Google says in its SQEG that this webpage has a high level of authority:

Because:

This is an “about us” page on a restaurant website. This page provides information on when the restaurant opened and what visitors can expect. Other pages on the website provide information about the restaurant including the address, menu, other contact information, etc. This website is highly authoritative because it is about itself.

And that this webpage has a “high level” of E-A-T:

Because:

The purpose of this page is to display the official US Naval Observatory Master Clock time in 7 different time zones. The page displays the clock information in a clear, easy-to-read format. The Naval Observatory is highly trustworthy and authoritative for this type of information.

My advice is to better understand how your specific website can demonstrate E-A-T. To start learning more about E-A-T now, I suggest reading our guide to the basics of E-A-T.

Partnering with a quality SEO professional or agency can help you do this. If you would like to discuss your website with us, use this contact form to request a free consultation today.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce’s author page.

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