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E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. All three are general factors that are part of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator General Guidelines and are used to help quality raters assess the overall value and relevance of a brand and/or website to specific queries and keywords.
Google historically has updated these guidelines roughly once a year since they first appeared in 2013. In March 2014, they were first updated to include E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These remained relatively static until December 2022, when Google updated the guidelines and specifically added the second “E” to their acronym: Experience.
Although they are not discrete ranking factors, knowing what makes for good E-E-A-T can be a helpful way to understand SEO and ultimately improve your rankings on Google.
Let’s break down E-E-A-T a little further.
Experience in SEO content creation refers to first-hand knowledge of a topic. Lived encounters can overlap with school, training, and credentials (which are also part of Expertise and Authority), but they also describe an author’s ability to write original content about a topic. Just as experience can come in many forms, there are many ways you can demonstrate your experience to Google and to searchers online.
When you write a review, your experience should allow you to provide unique insights, opinions, and guidance — and possibly include original photos, rather than stock images. Any reviewer can copy and paste product features and specifications directly from a retailer’s website. Likewise, you aren’t adding much unique value if you simply summarize the opinions of others or quote reviews on external sites. To demonstrate experience, you need to describe your own personal encounters and your feelings.
Demonstrating experience isn’t just important for reviews. For SEO purposes, experience signals can include anything that makes your content unique, original, and non-derivative. Satisfying searcher intent and using important keywords can homogenize content, making the SERP look like a sea of sameness. But you can’t beat the competition just by copying them. While you need to fit in to be seen as relevant, you also need to stand out on your own merits and creativity to outrank the rest.
Another good signal of experience to keep in mind is authorship. Simply having a byline on content that indicates a real human, with relevant knowledge and depth within the field wrote it, can help bring originality and authenticity to the page. If that author byline connects to a library of other content they’ve written, or lists links to their socials, that goes even further to demonstrate they are a legitimate, experienced writer. A short description of the author’s credentials, areas of expertise, and background can cement their experience and the value of their voice commenting on topics they have a strong connection to.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines expertise as “the skill of an expert/expert opinion or commentary.” Your ability to explain the topic from the ground up may indicate your overall expertise. In terms of web content, you might have blog posts or other pages that explain any query relevant to your niche, industry, or domain — from defining basic terms to addressing long-tail questions, with equally high-quality, comprehensive content.
Expertise is also evident when you can present a unique and accessible take on your subject. Just because there are already ranking results for certain queries or keywords, doesn’t mean readers aren’t hungry for a better explanation or a more user-friendly resource on the topic. When your site lacks expertise, this could be because previously published pages lack accurate information or provide little to no explanation as to what you’re talking about. Your content could be too generic, or it could suffer because your article shows signs of keyword stuffing, which is bad for SEO and for readers.
For instance, if you create a lot of content stuffed with keywords and phrases you wish to rank for, but have no unique commentary or value to add, your site may not show topical expertise because of the overuse of keywords. It takes more than keyword spamming to create truly optimized keyword-focused content and stand out from existing answers to your target queries. This is why you need to conduct keyword research prior to constructing your article: to ensure that you not only know how searchers look for information but also understand what they actually want and need from the results they discover.
Other factors that can damage your signals of expertise include:
Part of being seen as an expert can also mean offering a compelling and unique opinion. Likewise, being able to rank in search isn't just a matter of having the "right" answer, but demonstrating that your content provides something valuable to searchers. Experts have a history across their content of offering unique, compelling, value.
A website that shows authoritativeness is one that can be trusted and that users can rely on. Authoritativeness is defined as being “clearly accurate or knowledgeable.” In order to be seen as a reputable source, you must have authority. Your site’s authority can be determined in part by:
Google may not know what a “fact” on any subject is, but it can easily compare different pages with each other and come to a consensus. As a content creator, you have the ability to leverage the insights and commentary of other experts, while still providing a unique spin on your own content, standing out from the rest. This can really be helpful when trying to demonstrate E-E-A-T.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trustworthiness as “worthy of confidence” or “dependable.” It’s simple — in order to draw traffic to your site, users must trust that you know what you’re talking about. They also need to trust that their personal information (i.e. name, address, credit card info, etc.) is secure if they choose to subscribe to your services or purchase online — particularly if you are running an e-commerce site.
You can promote your site’s trustworthiness by:
It is important to note that gaining initial trust is easy. However, regaining the trust of a customer/client that once was wronged by you, your company, or your website, can be very difficult.
E-E-A-T is important for your content marketing efforts not only because it helps guide you toward making content that is appealing to users, but because it is also appealing to Google. It is just a simple way to contextualize the many different ranking factors Google uses to assess and rank content. Google also uses E-E-A-T to help train amateurs to assess content. If Google believes E-E-A-T is important for understanding and measuring content quality, then it is safe to say that it is worth considering for your own site as well.
Your Money Your Life (YMYL) pages are pages that have published content on financial, legal, and medical advice, as well as other topics that typically affect a user’s well-being. For example:
E-E-A-T is especially important for these YMYL pages because pages that have high levels of E-E-A-T are typically the ones that users gravitate to first.
For example, let’s say a user is searching “How do I increase my credit score?” If they click on your site per the results of the search pages because you have an article published on the topic, however, your domain is dedicated to recipes and baking tutorials, users might see you as an untrustworthy source.
Just because a site has an article published on ways to increase your credit score, doesn’t mean they automatically know what they’re talking about.
If you notice that your website may not be as trustworthy as it should be, don’t fret just yet. There are many ways you can improve your site’s E-E-A-T. For example: