SEO is a world of acronyms. Heck – SEO itself is an acronym (Search Engine Optimization) though most of us forget that as we talk about and work on our SEO every single day.
Unfortunately, SEO is an active process for most website owners – after all, the word is “optimization,” not “optimized.” The SEO strategy that used to work for you might not work anymore, and you need to be constantly learning and adjusting to help your website succeed with Google.
As you’re here and reading this post – you smarty pants – you’re probably aware of some new concepts in SEO and want to learn more. One important concept that every website owner needs to know and focus on is E-A-T. This post will introduce you to E-A-T (for those not familiar) and give you ways to demonstrate E-A-T on your site (for everyone).
What is E-A-T?
Whether you’ve heard of E-A-T a million times or it’s a brand new concept, it’s helpful to start by defining E-A-T as laid out by Google in the Search Quality Rater Guidelines:
- Expertise: “The expertise of the creator of the Main Content (MC).”
- Authoritativeness: “The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.”
- Trustworthiness: “The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
These three qualitative factors are part of how Google tries to understand whether your content is “good” and worth showing to readers – and as you can see, it’s not just about the content, you as the writer, or even your whole website: it’s about all three factors and all three areas you need to demonstrate Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Why E-A-T Matters
Why does E-A-T matter? Do you really need to focus on it?
Well, I’d like to think I’m smart enough to not write 2,500 words on a topic that isn’t important, but here’s the reality: E-A-T is a concept that many site owners have known about for years now (Google first released info about it back in 2016). This means that E-A-T is now a default part of SEO.
If you’re not doing it, you need to be. Why? Your competitors are focusing on E-A-T. I am focusing on E-A-T.
So if I’m focusing on something Google has asked us to focus on and you’re not, I have an advantage. If you’re focusing on it and your competitors aren’t (yet), then you have the advantage.
Either you need it just to be competitive (if many people in your niche are already focusing on E-A-T), or it will give you an advantage (if most people in your niche aren’t focused on E-A-T yet). Either way: E-A-T is now part of your SEO strategy, ya hear?
Is E-A-T a Ranking Factor for Google?
As you learn about E-A-T, you might wonder: does it actually affect my Google rankings?
In short, the answer is no, E-A-T is not a ranking factor in the traditional sense. Getting better at E-A-T doesn’t directly translate into some 0s and 1s in an algorithm somewhere that helps you score more highly and earn better rankings.
However, E-A-T has a powerful impact on the qualitative assessment Google makes of your site, and as Google gets better and better at qualitative tasks (like natural language processing and contextual awareness through AI), you can imagine how E-A-T does affect your rankings – even if it doesn’t determine them.
Quick Glance: Ways to Demonstrate E-A-T
Before jumping into the specific details of the techniques to demonstrate E-A-T that I advise, here’s the shortlist of each one:
- Talk About Your Direct Experience
- Write Comprehensive Content
- Write Multiple Posts on the Same Topic
- Ensure Your About Page is Strong
- Add an Author Bio to All Blog Posts
- Ensure Accuracy in Everything You Write
- Agree with the Consensus
- Keep Content Updated Regularly
If you’re already doing all of these things, great! If you want to learn more about them and how to add them to your site strategy and to-dos, read on.
Ways to Demonstrate Expertise
In the world of many fake influencers and course-schlepping gurus, Expertise – real expertise – can be hard to prove. That’s why Google cares so much about it; they know that it takes lots of experience to build expertise. So to demonstrate all the experience you have to Google, there are some things you’ve gotta do – and these will in turn demonstrate your Expertise.
1. Talk About Your Direct Experience
This might sound silly or obvious once I say it but: if you don’t tell Google (and your readers) that you have direct experience in the thing you’re writing about, how will they know?
Think about it: if someone is writing about baking a chocolate cake, but they don’t have any photos of themselves baking and they don’t say something like “I made this chocolate cake recipe a few weeks ago and it was delicious!” how can we as readers know that they actually made the cake? Maybe they just used a bunch of stock photos and modified a recipe from their favorite cookbook but never actually enjoyed a delicious slice of cake.
My point is: tell your audience – including Google – your direct experience. Literally write it in a sentence of your introduction.
This may be something like:
- I visited [destination] in [year]…
- I made [recipe/craft] in the past [timeframe]…
- I listened to/read [book/podcast] recently…
Obviously, you can make it less rudimentary – spice it up a bit – but be sure to always mention your direct experience and the details of your experience. Then Google – and your readers – know you have direct experience and are more likely to trust your expertise.
✅ Action Task: Go through your top 5 blog posts and ensure they mention your direct experience in that topic, in your intro. Then come up with a system to ensure all new blog posts also have this sentence (or similar) in the introduction.
2. Write Comprehensive Content
To be fair, this is advice we’ve known for a while. Dating back to 2016-2017, SEOs have been advising that comprehensiveness is key for making Google happy.
Unfortunately, this morphed into some weird mutant concept: write the longest post possible covering every single topic possibly related to the original topic. 10,000 words is great!!!!
This 👏 is 👏 bad 👏 advice. 👏
Longer posts don’t mean they’re more comprehensive in the right way. Instead, your post should be long enough to answer the user’s query, briefly provide relevant info on related topics, encourage on-site clicks through relevant internal links, and get the h*ll out of there. Give them what they want, and not one song more – we all hate an encore that goes on too long, even if we love the encore.
Word count is a useful proxy for comprehensiveness, but instead, I’d focus on understanding the user intent of the query/keyword you’re targeting, and provide that answer – and only that answer. (Which brings me to…)
✅ Action Task: For any posts struggling, do an audit of your competitor’s word counts, but also look at the SERP and People Also Ask box to ensure you adequately answer the query without going overboard by thousands of words.
3. Write Multiple Posts on the Same Topic
If you have a lot to say on a topic, great! That is a good sign you’re an expert.
So instead of putting all of that expertise into one post, why not break it up into several? In fact, having multiple related posts on the same topic is a great way to demonstrate Expertise to Google (and readers).
Every time you sit down to write a post, you should be able to articulate at least three other blog posts you have, can, or will write on related topics. (Then you also need to write those posts.) Every post you write should fit within the ecosystem of your content – past and future. It should be easy to add internal links in the post you’re writing to your other posts – and to add backlinks from those posts to your new post.
If you don’t have any related content now, you should plan on prioritizing those related posts in the next few months after your first post is published, to help them all prop each other up and give good Google signals.
✅ Action Task: For each new blog post you plan to write, identify 3+ posts you’ve already written and/or plan to write that relate to the same topic and you can internally link between.
✅ Bonus Task: Audit your blog posts to identify any “orphans” which do not have good/enough related content. Either create new content to supplement them, or re-home them to other blogger’s sites in exchange for backlinks.
Ways to Demonstrate Authoritativeness
Authoritativeness (not Authority, which I say wrong all the time) is about your authority, your blog post’s authority, and your site’s authority. Authority is a wily concept like Expertise, but is perhaps a bit easier to prove through various credentials.
Credentials might be degrees or letters after your name, but they might also be years of doing a thing/visiting a place/etc. Credentials for you and your industry will vary, but the idea here is to demonstrate your Authoritativeness by ensuring logical credentials are evident to Google (and your readers) in some key places.
4. Ensure Your About Page is Strong
You already have an About page, right? Of course you do! It’s one of the first things we set up when we start a new site.
… But when’s the last time you updated your About page? Much less ensured it’s helping your SEO?
Now admittedly, your About page doesn’t have much impact on SEO ranking factors – but it can have an impact on E-A-T, specifically your Authoritativeness.
So head over to your About page and take a look at it. Rewrite it to make it better – but also make sure you share any relevant credentials you have in your niche, to help Google and your readers understand that you are an authority on the topic you’re writing about.
✅ Action Task: Go audit your About page and updated it with relevant authoritative credentials.
5. Add an Author Bio to All Blog Posts
Here’s one that might stir up some discussion, but it’s absolutely essential for demonstrating Authoritativeness as part of E-A-T: add an author bio to your blog posts.
Now if you run a single-author site (i.e. just you), you might wonder: do I really need an author bio when it’s just me and I have a bio in my sidebar?
The answer, dear fellow site owner, is yes. Why? Because Google asks its search quality raters to look for author bios as part of assessing E-A-T.
So if you don’t have one, you literally just miss the opportunity to earn extra “points” in the E-A-T assessment of your site.
Sure, most readers will never read it, and it can’t include much (though it should include those all-important credentials!), but when Google asks for something, we give Google what it wants.
✅ Action Task: Go turn on author bios in your theme and write a credential-rich bio for yourself and any contributors you’ve had.
Ways to Demonstrate Trustworthiness
Finally, Trustworthiness. As my mother used to say, trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. Most people, I think, are generally trusting on the internet – or at least neutral. That means that we have a greater chance of losing trust than we have to focus on gaining it. Here are some tips for maintaining your trustworthiness with readers.
6. Ensure Accuracy in Everything You Write
This might also sound silly, but if your content is inaccurate, how can your readers trust it? If you have wrong details – prices, opening hours, weather predictions, whatever – and your reader does even a cursory search (or clicks your affiliate link) to see that you’re wrong, they’re going to be less trusting going forward.
Instead, you need to be accurate as much as possible. In the details, sure, but also in your general advice. This is especially helpful in the travel industry, which is where I focus most of my effort and know many of you do too.
For example, I once had readers email me and say that because I mentioned a restaurant they know is great in Estes Park, Colorado (an area I am admittedly NOT an expert about), they were going to trust my suggestions for Alaska travel too (an area I am an expert in). The little gems of your unique experience and knowledge can also serve to enhance trust if you give good recommendations and they turn out to be true.
✅ Action Task: Double-check all details before you hit publish.
7. Agree with the Consensus…
Or able to demonstrate why your advice deviates.
Here’s a tricky piece of advice: generally, Google ranks things well which agree with the consensus on that topic.
- If you write about baked chicken and most people advise 400° for 45 minutes, but you say 350° for 85 minutes, Google’s going to wonder about that.
- If you write about visiting a destination and everyone includes five similar must-dos but you don’t include three of those, Google’s going to wonder about that.
- If you write about gardening and advise planting your bulbs in the summer instead of fall, Google’s going to wonder about that.
Generally, your content should agree with – and include – most of the information that is part of the consensus about your topic.
However, that doesn’t mean you should just have the same things in your content that everyone does. You can certainly deviate where it makes sense – especially when you then directly address your deviation and why your advice is better.
I do this all the time, throwing shade at other sites who I think give bad advice – and stating why I think their advice is bad. Google (and readers) can see all and can then judge for themselves how trustworthy your advice is.
✅ Action Task: Audit your competitors before publishing, to make sure you’re not missing any obvious consensus advice that your post should also inculde.
8. Keep Content Updated Regularly
Finally, one of the most important ways to keep trust with your readers is by keeping your posts updated regularly. This is, admittedly, the bane of every site owner’s existence at a certain point: keeping the garden tidy isn’t nearly as satisfying as watching new flowers bloom, ya know?
However, old content can easily erode trust – especially if your niche was affected by the pandemic in any way. For me in travel, I’ve started working to update every piece of my content from 2019 and earlier to ensure readers know that it’s accurate and trustworthy.
Finally, when you do update content, I recommend adding a blurb somewhere in the text (I do it at the end of the intro) that documents the paper trail of improvements you’ve made. Here’s one I recently published:
This literally tells readers (and Google) that I keep my posts updated and they can trust my advice.
✅ Action Task: Come up with a system to keep posts updated as needed.
✅ Bonus Task: Add a blurb to all future updates to document the history of the post and any changes you’ve made.
And that’s it – all the ways to demonstrate E-A-T that I employ on my many sites to help improve my SEO efforts. Have any questions about these techniques for improving E-A-T? Let me know in the comments!