How does your content authority measure up against Google’s standards? SEO expert Gert Mellak is our guest once more. And this time, he shares a simple framework by which Google determines site ranking.
Tune in as Gert and James talk about expert content, brand reputation management, why you should google yourself, and more.
Our SEO go-to Gert Mellak has been on the show quite a bit, and every time he doesn’t fail to deliver value.
On this guesting, he tells us just how Google determines site ranking, and what you can do to stay on their good side.
It all boils down to a neat little acronym, EAT:
E – Expertise
A – Authoritativeness
T – Trustworthiness
EAT comes up a good deal in Google’s criteria guideline, the reason being that Google has a growing problem. It’s getting progressively harder to determine what online content is legit and what isn’t.
It’s a growing issue for Google’s machine learning algorithm to decipher: does the writer really know what they’re talking about? When an author gives a recommendation on health, finance or what have you, do they do so with expertise, or are they merely copying, pasting and rewriting?
Google’s AI against content-creating AI
What could make it harder in the foreseeable future is if AI is successfully taught to produce content for websites. Once that becomes a reality, the next step will be AI creating content and websites at scale. Potentially millions of sites can be produced at virtually no cost. What a headache, then, for Google.
What’s legitimate authority content? What isn’t?
When determining legitimacy, Google wants to know: is there someone behind a website? And do they really know what they’re talking about?
To this end, quality raters are asked to check:
Is there an author?
Is there an about page?
Is there a contact page?
This is especially important if the subject is in an area that’s called “your money, your life”. Anything having to do with the user’s money, life, happiness and the like is very much a concern of Google.
“Google doesn’t want to give bad information.”
Google doesn’t want to give bad information. It comes back to Google trying to make users happy. So they need mechanisms to figure out what is good advice in areas like finance and health, very often sticking with what’s mainstream.
How to boost EAT on your website
Taking EAT into account, there are a number of things you can do to optimize your site.
1. Tell Google who you are
Telling Google who you are and who is behind the site (not necessarily you, this can be someone else) is going to be good. This is where an about page is important.
Gert has seen many sites drop in ranking that lacked this information, and typically they were affiliate sites. Needless to say, the old affiliate concept that eschews branding and real value no longer works.
“You can’t rank any more if you’re not putting yourself out there.”
2. Invite communication
A lot of sites don’t put up either an about page or a contact page because they don’t want to be bothered by interaction. This, says Gert, is simply an impossible scenario these days. You can’t rank any more if you’re not putting yourself out there.
3. Sign up for Google My Business
As soon as you have a certain authority in a space, very often Google is going to put up what’s called a knowledge panel. You will see this come up at the right hand side of the screen when you search, and it will contain details about the person or company searched.
If you don’t have this yet, a way to improve your branding in Google is to sign up for Google My Business. This allows people to give reviews for you or your business. Getting a lot of good feedback will be a very, very positive sign for Google of your legitimacy.
4. Work with a subject matter expert
If you have an interest in a space but are not yourself an expert in the field, you might partner up with people who are experts. If you have a health site, for instance, you could connect it to doctors who are willing to put their name up for compensation or for glory, whatever they want. But you want to connect critical information to an expert.
SEO and your brand reputation management
Controlling your online reputation is important. It could affect your ability to get jobs, contract work or customers. A good starting point is to run a search on your name online.
If you think you and your business don’t need SEO, that paid ads are enough, consider: people are going to search for your brand, and what they see will impact their impression of you. If someone claimed once upon a time that your service is trash, that could still be floating online somewhere.
So SEO is a good step to owning and controlling your brand.
The reputation risk with affiliates
Some affiliates may put up sites and try to compete with you and rank for your brand. If you have an affiliate program, you can prevent this by consulting a lawyer about terms and conditions that expressly forbid buying or bidding on your own trademark names or pretending to be you.
“You really have to protect your brand. And you have to go out and grab it with both hands before someone else does.”
And as you increase your expertise and authoritativeness in the marketplace, you will start to dominate for your own brand name. The easy win after that is to scroll down to the bottom of the page and see what else Google thinks people are looking for when they search for your name. You ought to find suggestions there that you could be optimizing for as well.
When someone else is using your brand
Another shady move is when someone uses your brand to promote their similar product. They could be trying to ran for your name as a brand example, but trying to sell their own program. Your best move there would be to trademark your brand name while you can.
Filling in the missing dots
SEO is a gap game. Gert recommends asking:
Google has recently implemented a way of getting more information about a search result. You can click on the three dots below the search bar to pull from their database more details about the result.
They have a sense that people might not necessarily trust the result site itself, and that they will want more information from Google about whether they’re legit. So we’re definitely heading into an era, Gert thinks, where only experts are going to be allowed to talk. And Google, unfortunately, will tell us who the expert is.
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