Alongside all the algorithms, did you know that Google also has human quality raters, who assess the quality of search results? Well, they do – and those quality raters use a set of guidelines to inform their work. Those guidelines are a very long read but throughout you’ll see the E-A-T acronym crop up regularly.
Standing for expertise, authority and trustworthiness, E-A-T is not technically a ranking factor but it is what Google strives for its algorithms to be able to assess. As Ben Gomes, Google’s then vice president of search in 2018, explained in a CNBC interview:
“You can view the rater guidelines as where we want the search algorithm to go. They don’t tell you how the algorithm is ranking results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do.”
So, if they aren’t a direct ranking factor, why should you be keeping E-A-T guidelines in mind when creating your next content strategy?
The guidelines matter because they form the backbone of what Google’s algorithms are trying to achieve – so using them to guide your strategy is a great way to ensure you’re creating content that will help to demonstrate expertise, authority and trustworthiness, which is great for users but also great for your SEO.
That’s why this blog explores ten ways to use E-A-T to inform and guide your next content strategy – so you can feel reassured that you’re creating content that demonstrates expertise, authority and trustworthiness…
1. Look at off-site factors such as reviews
I’m starting with this point because it can be so easy to neglect content that is user-generated and not sitting directly on your site. It’s easy to forget about (or maybe ignore) content like reviews because it doesn’t stare at you in the face when you look at your website.
Yet, we know that Google reviews are used by Google as a ranking factor but using E-A-T guidelines suggests that reviews elsewhere online are another indicator of trustworthiness. Take time to look at review sites where customers may have left rankings – these might be industry specific websites, or more widely used platforms such as Trustpilot and Tripadvisor – and of course keep an eye on Google reviews too.
Factor reviews into your content strategy by collaborating with customer services teams to consider how you could gather more positive reviews.
Always aim to leave a polite, thoughtful response to reviews too – you can get your point of view across but be conscious of how your response will read to other potential customers. Negative reviews happen, so don’t bury your head in the sand; prepare a structured response and be honest about whether you can learn from them – that in itself shows a level of trustworthiness.
2. Link building still matters
Link building is best done over time, and with authenticity (in our opinion). By that I mean not paying for links, gathering links that are off the back of genuine relationships and generating links as a result of expert, authoritative content.
When creating your content strategy think about how you can amplify your content, helping it to reach new audiences and potentially generate links as a result. Look at ways you could use PR to help gain mentions and links on authoritative websites.
If you want some tips on how to create a press release (and get it out to the press), have a read of our PR manager’s blog.
3. Don’t forget to revisit old content too
Much like off-site content often gets forgotten, content created in years gone by can often be neglected too.
When it comes to the E-A-T guidelines you need to be showing expertise and authority – and to do that, your content needs to be factually correct and reliable! I’m sure your industry is just like many others where legislation changes, advice develops over time and market trends fluctuate – and all of this could make the advice in old content of yours irrelevant, or worse, incorrect and misleading.
Look at your most visited website content using Google Analytics and consider how you could update and refresh it to be more relevant to today’s audience.
4. Avoid trying to be a ‘Jack-of-all-trades’
When creating your content strategy focus on the topics which you are genuinely experts in. Whether that’s your products, your industry or a particular discipline, you want to focus on these topics and generate content that is relevant to them – that way you’ll naturally be creating content with authority.
It can be difficult to generate content ideas around a niche or defined topic, so speak with a content marketing strategist to see if they can help create a content plan that focusses on your area of expertise, but which doesn’t simply repeat itself or lack depth.
5. Point to your references and sources of information
When creating content, don’t be afraid to include sources and references where people can find more information or corroborate your advice. Backing up your statements with trustworthy sources will only confirm the trustworthiness of your own content too.
6. Factor in the user journey at every point of your strategy
The E-A-T guidelines from Google explicitly state that for websites which concern matters of ‘your money or your life’ (e.g. YMYL are websites that could influence your spending or your health, for example) then customer service details should be easily accessible and visible. It’s a sliding scale though, and some websites which don’t hold the same gravitas (a humour website, or one-man-band blog, for example) wouldn’t be expected to have the same level of contact details made available.
Whatever your situation, assess your website and your business to think about whether:
A) Customer service details or easy to access contact details would benefit your website users
B) If you already have these details on your website, are they visible enough – particularly at pivotal points in the customer journey?
7. Work closely with other experts
I mean experts in two senses here – content experts and experts in other fields that could support your content to make it more authoritative.
If you work with content creators, then make sure you share your expertise with them. Whether that’s by collaborating with them on topics for the content strategy or by providing them with resources and guidance on the topics themselves. Good content creators will always do their own research too and should always be able to create content that resonates with your audience and offers value, but you can – and should – have an input too! That’s why we always work so closely with our clients to get to know their industry and work with the experts in their team to create authoritative, readable and fascinating content.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to work with experts in complementary fields. Working with others on your content can help to build great relationships with other businesses, widen the reach of your content (as they’ll hopefully share it with their audience too) and adds authority to the topics you’re covering.
8. Use your credentials, awards and achievements to your advantage
Now is not the time to be shy about your achievements! When creating your content strategy consider awards you may want to enter, look at how you can share your team’s credentials on your site and if you have reached milestones, or other achievements, make sure you share them. All of these factors add to your portfolio of expertise and authority.
A great way to share your team’s know-how is through blogs, author bios and meet the team profiles – so factor these in to your next content strategy.
9. Share unique insights
This is, undoubtedly, a trickier one to nail. Unique insights will take more time (and budget) to develop – but they are worth it if you’re to take your content strategy seriously, and you want to tick boxes for the E-A-T guidelines.
We’ve worked with clients to gather unique data, to comment on new industry developments and to create content that, quite simply, hasn’t been done before – and we know that it is often this content that can help demonstrate authority in a particular field and build quality links and mentions (when amplified and shared well too).
Think about whether your business could fund or support new research, if there’s a new angle you could take on existing data, or whether there is data that your company holds, which could provide new insights and an opportunity for commentary.
As I say, this is often a core – but more challenging – part of a content strategy, so don’t hesitate to work with content professionals who can bring creativity and expertise to the process, to make the most of your efforts.
10. Whatever content you create, keep users at the heart of it
Whatever shape your content strategy takes, and whether you include none or all nine of the previous points in this blog, make sure the content you create is right for your target audience.
Essentially, E-A-T guidelines focus on identifying content that is great for users – and so in turn it’s great for Google to surface it in its search engine results pages. So whatever route you take, always think about whether the content you’re creating adds value to whoever reads it. If the content is on your website, offer a positive user experience and credible sources. If the content is off-site, think about how it is an extension of your brand.
Are you looking for more ways to ramp up your content marketing? Have a read of these five clever content marketing tactics