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What is E-A-T and How Can You Optimize Your Website for It?

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E-A-T, Expertise, Authority, Trust graphic

E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust, is a collection of factors that, while not used as actual metrics or ranking factors, helps Google evaluate the legitimacy of a website.

E-A-T is not a new concept—Google has been using authority and trust signals in its ranking system for years—but it has been getting more attention since August 2018, when Google increased its focus on measuring the trustworthiness of websites in order to show searchers the best, most accurate results.

Here’s what the three terms mean, according to Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

Expertise

Expertise refers to the creator of the content, and whether they qualify as an expert on the topic. The definition of “expert” depends on the topic of the website content. If it’s medical content or another type of content that requires specific credentials, those qualifications should be posted on the site. For less formal topics, Google also accepts “everyday expertise,” meaning that the content creator may not have any official experience or training, but they have relevant life experience.

Authority

Authority takes expertise to the next level. An expert can be an expert even if no one listens to them or consults their opinion. An authority, on the other hand, has expertise that is recognized by others. One thing that shows the authority of a website is how many incoming links (backlinks) it receives from other websites. A backlink shows that another website was confident enough in the content of a website that it created a link to direct its own visitors to that external site for more information.

Trust

Establishing trust is important in any relationship, and the one between you and your site visitors is no exception. When looking at the trustworthiness of a website, Google looks for positive online reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings and reviews, website security, and whether the website has posted terms of use, a privacy policy, a physical address, contact information, and, for ecommerce sites, a clear return and refund policy.

How You Can Improve Your Website’s E-A-T

E-A-T is not something you can really “optimize” for in the same way you can optimize for actual ranking factors like mobile friendliness and page speed. E-A-T isn’t a metric and Google doesn’t generate a score for it. Because it’s based on subjective opinions about your site, there’s no way to guarantee a high E-A-T score by going through a checklist of tasks or updates to your site.

The best way to optimize for E-A-T is to offer consistently excellent, authoritative content on your site, and follow these tips to demonstrate the quality of your website content.

  1. Include author names and biographies for blog posts. Google not only examines the E-A-T of a website, it does the same for the content creators associated with the site. Use bios to prove that “editorial” content on your website, such as blog posts, case studies, and whitepapers, are written by authoritative experts on the subject. If the subject matter requires specialized training or certification, be sure to list all appropriate qualifications.
  2. Polish your brand’s online reputation. The better your company’s online reputation, the more trustworthy your website will be in Google’s eyes. Improve your online reputation by claiming your business, establishing a strong social media presence, monitoring your reviews, being responsive to customer questions and complaints, posting testimonials on your site, and providing excellent customer service.
  3. Perform a content audit. To make sure all the content on your website is living up to high E-A-T standards, use a content audit to identify any content with poor E-A-T and either delete it or improve it so it doesn’t hurt the authority and trustworthiness of your overall site.  
  4. Offer strong website security. Trustworthiness goes beyond subject matter—it also includes site security. A website with a high E-A-T score will not only be providing content that a user can trust, it will be providing a secure online environment that will not expose their personal information to hacking or other types of online fraud. If you haven’t already, upgrade your site to the more secure SSL/HTTPS connection, use a virus checker, keep software up to date, make sure you’re using a secure website hosting provider, and display secure site seals to show you are keeping your visitors’ information safe.
  5. Build backlinks. According to Google, backlinks—incoming hyperlinks from other websites to yours—are one of the top three most important ranking factors. To improve the authority of your site, work on getting high quality backlinks from other sites by creating valuable content that generates interest, finding good link candidates and asking them to link to your site, and removing or disavowing low-quality backlinks.