The E.A.T. Paradigm for Google: How You Can Up Your Game in 2020

There’s no way around it: Google controls Internet traffic. Knowing how to operate within the search engine’s algorithm lets you maximize your SEO and score higher in search rankings. To do this, you have to understand Google’s E.A.T. paradigm. It lets you prove your bona fides and attract the kind of clients you’re looking for.

Understanding E.A.T. could be central to determining your website’s success or failure. Consider how important Google is to securing traffic. Statistics show that search engines drive 93% of web traffic, with Google accounting for most of this. In fact, the world’s biggest search engine provides about 3/4 of all desktop traffic, and about 6/7 of all mobile traffic.

Clearly, learning how to operate within Google’s algorithms is imperative to your online business. Achieving a high search rank allows you to attract users, and bringing in the right type of audience increases your ability to convert sales.

That’s why E.A.T. is such an important concept. It’s one of the ways Google judges the value of a website. It plays into the way the search engine evaluates website quality and usefulness, ultimately impacting where it appears in search rankings.

What are the basic facts you need to know about E.A.T.?

We’ll get into details about the various aspects of E.A.T. in a little bit. First, it’s important to understand the basics. As such, here are some of the fundamental attributes of the E.A.T. paradigm:

  • E.A.T. stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.”
  • Fundamentally, E.A.T. measures the potential value a user could get from your site. It looks at whether you are qualified to discuss the topic your website covers, and whether the content provided can be trusted.
  • E.A.T. represents a key component of Google’s Page Quality rating.
  • The details of E.A.T. are laid out in the guidelines for Google’s Search Quality Raters, humans who judge website quality as part of the process the search engine uses to fine-tune its algorithms.
  • Since its important to the process Google uses to improve its search algorithms, a high E.A.T. score corresponds to improved SEO and higher search rankings.

These attributes define what E.A.T. does and how it impacts your website. Now, let’s look at each aspect in a little more detail…

What are the main components of E.A.T.?

Google EAT might sound like a new food delivery service…maybe with dinner brought to you by a self-driving car and a Google Wing drone flies your meal the final few feet to the door. But in reality, E.A.T. represents a concept used to shape Google’s search algorithm. As such, it expresses a key part of the equation that draws users to your website.

As an acrynym, E.A.T. stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust.” Think of it as the three-legged stool of any content’s online reputation, at least as judged by Google. The E.A.T. protocol is part of Google’s Page Quality category. As such, it represents a set of guidelines used to judge the potential value a website provides.

Let’s break it down a little more, giving some details about each of the elements:

  • Expertise – Basically, this component seeks to measure whether you know what you are talking about. First, Google wants to see that you authored the content on your site, and that you have the appropriate level of expertise to speak intelligently on the subject.

Generally, expertise involves having credentials in the topic at hand. Health advice should be given by a doctor, financial advice by a money manager, etc. However, Google takes a relatively wide view of the matter. As an example, the company notes that forums for a particular disease might get a high E.A.T. rating, since people living with the disease would count as experts on that life experience.

As Google says in its guidelines, “we will value this ‘everyday expertise’ and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having ‘formal’ education or training in the field.”

  • Authoritativeness – How you present your information matters as well. Google makes a point of highlighting tone as an important aspect of the E.A.T. equation. The guidelines note that “medical advice…should be written or produced in a professional style” and that “news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism.”

Again, though, Google doesn’t take a narrow view on the subject. The company realizes that different websites will take different approaches to a subject. The guidelines specifically note that humor websites, or gossip websites, can have high E.A.T. ratings.

So, it’s not a matter of maintaining a high, serious tone. It’s more a matter of showing that your content is well produced. If your site appears slapdash, with grammar/spelling/punctuation mistakes, it will suffer in this area.

  • Trustworthiness – Think about how you earn trust as a regular person, IRL. You need to be open about who you are, and your motivations have to be clear. That’s how you build trust in everyday, interpersonal relationships.

The same applies to a website. You have to be perceived as upfront and honest. This involves having an “about you” page that details your company and what you do. It also helps to provide easy-to-find contact info, including customer support. Also, make sure to secure your site with an SSL certificate.

How is E.A.T. judged?

Don’t view each of the E.A.T. elements as separate. Under Google’s paradigm, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness become interlinked and intertwined subjects. In other words, imagine E.A.T. as a singular concept, not as three distinct ideas. It has three elements, but these operate as components, not as separate items.

Think of it as a stew, consisting of meat, potatoes and carrots. When you judge the meal, you consider how the stew tastes overall. The quality of the meat or the potatoes enter into the equation, but ultimately the grade is given to the stew as a whole.

So, there’s a singular E.A.T. rating to consider, rather than a separate rating for expertise, for authoritativeness and for trustworthiness. This score is given on spectrum, from low to high.

The result of this evaluation can have important implications for your business. High E.A.T. content leads to higher Page Quality ratings. Google is constantly updating its algorithms to seek out those high PQ sites. That means that a strong showing on E.A.T. will ultimately lead to higher page rankings and more customers.

Let’s look at this last bit in a little more detail…

How does E.A.T. impact search results?

Imagine you run Google (not a bad job to have…is it time for the company masseuse yet?). You get literally billions of search requests per day. Your business depends on matching those requests with the right answers. In other words, you have to translate queries into reliable, actionable links.

Meanwhile, all this matching takes place through a computer. It’s not like there are human operators, taking search requests and manually matching them with the best answers. Instead, the evaluation takes place through a series of algorithms, complex mathematical equations that crunch numerous data points to provide what we receive as Google’s search results.

Here’s where the concept of E.A.T. comes into play. It answers the question: How can you evaluate the value of each website, judging the reliability and efficacy of its information?

The short answer is: you can’t. But you can do the next best thing. By running experiments, and using human quality evaluators to guide those experiments, you can fine-tune your algorithm. This constant improvement allows Google to provide the best possible search results.

E.A.T. is part of that process. The concept is detailed in the guidelines Google provides its human evaluators. Websites are given a rating, from low to high, on their E.A.T. Using these scores, Google improves its algorithms, so it can provide more accurate and relevant search results.

What is the purpose of E.A.T.?

Because Google operates as the main pipeline for web content, every web-based business works hard to maximize its ability to fit into the search engine’s algorithms. For legitimate businesses, this might just be a matter of tweaking its webpages to suit quirks in the process. However, there are a lot of illegitimate websites out there attempting to soak up traffic – clickbait content mills or scams that exist only to game Google’s algorithm.

This means that Google has to stay vigilant. The company works hard to separate legitimate sites, which provide significant value for its users, from the low-quality and scam sites.

That’s the purpose of Google’s E.A.T. paradigm in a nutshell. It allows Google to target its algorithms toward high-quality sites. High E.A.T. sites contribute meaningful information and actionable advice. Fundamentally, the paradigm separates useful sites from those only interested in driving cheap traffic.

As Google puts it in its guidelines, the first step in determining Page Quality is to eliminate pages that “are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users.”

The company instructs its Search Quality Raters to give these dregs of the Internet their lowest ratings. From there, a key judge of the quality of the remaining websites comes down to their E.A.T. score. Improving your E.A.T. separates your site from pack, highlighting the additional value you can provide that others can’t.

How does Google’s E.A.T. paradigm work?

We talk about E.A.T. as having a score. However, you shouldn’t get focused on that, as if there were a specific number you could discover, or a particular equation you could study. It isn’t quite that precise. It’s not an ACT or SAT score that you can look at.

Instead, E.A.T. operates more like a guiding principle. As such, it impacts several aspects operating within Google’s algorithm. You should do everything you can to improve your position, because it trickles down to your site ratings in various ways.

Don’t be fooled, though. There may not be a one-to-one correspondence between a single score and the concepts of Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. However, that doesn’t mean that E.A.T. doesn’t hold significant power in maximizing your SEO. It may not come down to a solitary numerical representation. But those concepts will impact your search results.

Think of the way a talent like “speed” shows up in sports statistics. No sport keeps an official “speed” stat. However, a fast player will do better across the board, in a wide variety measurable data points.

That’s how E.A.T. works within Google’s algorithm. It’s not a single thing. Instead, it describes a collection of data points that weave their way through the entire process of ranking search results.

What does E.A.T. mean for you?

As we’ve seen, Google uses the E.A.T. metric as a key component in determining the quality of websites. It influences the way the company’s algorithm is updated, which, in turn, makes it an important part of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

So how do you put E.A.T. concepts into action?

Google is a little vague on this point. The exact definition of each of the E.A.T. elements will depend on the particular situation. Since Google operates across such a broad cross-section of websites, its advice on how to E.A.T. should be applied tends to remain very general.

For instance, Google’s guidelines say this about subject of judging the expertise of a website:

“Think about the topic of the page. What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well? The standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page.”

In other words, the concept can only be applied on a case-by-case basis. However, just because something has a flexible application doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a concrete basis. Let’s look at some specific actions you can take…

How do you improve your E.A.T.?

So, now you understand how E.A.T. can impact your SEO and, ultimately, your Google rankings.

But that’s just the first step. It’s not enough to know that E.A.T. represents an important concept in getting a prime ranking for your site. Now, you have to put the concept into practice, despite the fact that Google leaves the application purposely vague.

It all begs an important question: what are the practical steps you can take to leverage this concept?

Here are a few basic steps you can take to improve E.A.T. on your site (as compiled by Search Engine Journal):

1. Include author names and biographies for all editorial content. Knowing who you are and what your background is forms the basis for establishing your expertise in the topic at hand.

2. Take care of your branding. A professional presentation, along with a strong reputation, will boost the authoritativeness element.

3. Cut or edit low E.A.T. content. Don’t let a few bad pages drag down your search results. Concentrate only on high E.A.T. pages, so that your entire site can benefit.

4. Moderate user-generated content. This fits into the same category of avoiding any low E.A.T. content. User-generated content is fine (Google specifically says forums can qualify as high E.A.T. pages), but it falls under the same rules as everything else. It doesn’t get an exemption just because you didn’t produce it directly. As such, you need to monitor it closely to keep it up to the proper standards.

5. Take care of your website security. It’s central to trustworthiness to know that you can’t be hacked.

What are some other ways to improve your EAT?

The items listed above are steps you can take within your own content to improve your E.A.T. ratings. But maximizing your online reputation requires another step as well. Not only do you have to monitor your content for the highest possible quality, it helps to develop a strong relationship with other sites as well.

After all, your reputation is dependent on what other people think of you, and, more importantly for Google, how they talk about you. This starts by having the content you post optimized for E.A.T. You also get a boost by getting positive mentions elsewhere on the web.

Here are some specific points that can help your E.A.T. standing:

Good Reviews – If other people speak highly of your site, its a concrete sign that the outside world places a high value on your content.

Wikipedia Mentions – Wiki citations mean your website is being used as a reliable source of fact…a clear showing of expertise and trustworthiness.

Forum Mentions – Similar to the wiki mentions, getting talked about positively on forums means your information is getting used by people in their everyday lives…a clear sign of E.A.T. at work in the real world.

What other value does E.A.T. provide FOR your website?

Ultimately, Google has a particular goal when it crafts its algorithm. The company is trying to match users with information they can use. It’s a search engine…take that designation seriously (as in, an “engine for searching”), and the company is just trying to help users find the answers they need.

This is important to keep in mind. Often, it’s easy to get lost in the gamesmanship of maximizing SEO and getting the most out of Google’s algorithm. But remember, the best way to get noticed is to have meaningful, actionable content.

In this way, E.A.T. exists as more than just Google’s attempt to better target its algorithm updates. The paradigm can operate as a set of guidelines for an attractive, effective sight as well. After all, who doesn’t want to visit a site that provides expert advice, that can be trusted, and that operates as a source of authoritative information? Google targets those sites, because those sites are useful to people searching the web.

By maximizing your E.A.T. score, you get more than a better Google ranking. The same improvements will make you more appealing to users, hopefully leading to easier conversions and helping you develop long-term relationships with your audience.

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