Google has more than 10,000 human 'quality raters' worldwide, who use the search quality rating guidelines to evaluate its SERPs. They are given searches to conduct, and they then rate the quality of the pages that appear in the top results.
In July, Google updated the guidelines that are given to these raters and, among the changes made, there is now a much stronger emphasis on a page's E-A-T rating. Those letters stand for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. When creating and publishing content on your website, it's well worth keeping these factors in mind.
So, what steps can you take to boost your E-A-T rating and give your website a better chance of ranking highly for the queries you're targeting?
Add bylines and bios to your content
Google's search quality rating guidelines now say that "understanding who is responsible for a website is a critical part of assessing E-A-T".
How raters assess this is based on the type of site they're looking at. For example, Google categorises any page that includes information that could affect someone's health, happiness, safety, or financial stability as a YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) page, and they prefer these pages to be written by experts that are authoritative on the topic they're covering.
When it comes to landing and product pages, this means that your customer service or business contact information should be easily accessible. And, for blog posts, information about the author needs to be available, so an evaluator can decide whether they're qualified to be writing about that particular subject.
The guidelines say: "The reputation and E-A-T of the creators of the MC (main content) is extremely important when a website has different authors or content creators on different pages." So, if an author's information isn't clear, this could have a detrimental effect on your content's E-A-T score.
Put plenty of work into developing your personal brand
While Google doesn't necessarily expect small and newer brands to have fully formed reputations, it says: "You should expect to find reputation information for large businesses and websites of large organisations, as well as well-known content creators." And, if the website or content creator's reputation is "lacking for the purpose of the page, the Low or Lowest rating is appropriate".
Google's raters are also encouraged to take note of third-party reputation information, as brands and authors can't always be trusted to assess their own expertise accurately.
This means it's incredibly important that your brand has a positive and trustworthy reputation. If other brands and companies outrank you in the reputation stakes, it's very likely they'll outrank you on Google's SERPs. Additionally, if the authors you employ are known for spreading misinformation, this could have a detrimental effect on how everything they write is ranked in the future.
You can improve your reputation in a number of ways, and these include:
- Telling your story to create a more authentic connection with your audience.
- Using your social media profiles to interact with influencers and your audience.
- Securing product placement or bylines on trusted platforms.
This should help you to earn those all-important third-party endorsements and reviews, allowing you to develop a positive reputation as a result.
Delete or edit low E-A-T content
Although Google's guidelines say that websites with numerous authors should be judged on a page-by-page basis, having low E-A-T content on one page could have a negative effect on a site's overall reputation. So, if your website has low E-A-T pages that aren't bringing in a lot of traffic, it's usually best to remove them.
If pages you consider to be low E-A-T are bringing in a lot of traffic, it's worth giving these some special attention. The best course of action will typically be to rework the page, but how you do this will depend on what kind of page you're looking at. If it's a piece of YMYL content, for example, you may wish to bring an expert on board to rewrite the piece. Although, this isn't always necessary. Google says: "For some topics, the most expert sources of information are ordinary people sharing their life experiences on personal blogs, forums, reviews, discussions, etc." So, if you can inject your own experiences into a piece of content, there's a chance this could do a pretty good job of improving your E-A-T rating.
Ensure your site is secure
As we've explained, the T in E-A-T stands for "trustworthiness", but this doesn't simply refer to whether your content is likely to be accurate — it's also about security. So, for example, if you have an ecommerce site with a checkout page that has an insecure connection, this is likely to be given a Low rating. Plus, as Google's Chrome browser now labels all HTTP pages as "not secure", if your site doesn't have an SSL certificate and HTTPS URLs, this is likely to have a negative impact on your score. So, investing in technical security is an important step in boosting your E-A-T rating.
Making a conscious effort to boost and maintain the E-A-T rating of your website and its pages is an important step towards ranking for the keywords you're targeting. So, take the tips we've given you on board, and it could benefit your online visibility massively.