In 2018, many websites lost significant traffic after a Google algorithm update. Initial losers included huge names like Live Strong, The Balance Careers, and Men’s Health.
These sites had been doing everything right: they were producing good content at scale and following the existing best practices.
But they were missing one thing.
While Google never confirmed the reason for the drop, the consensus in SEO circles is that the algorithm change targeted websites with low Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T).
These are signals that tell Google a site is qualified to provide the information it is giving. They include factors like the expertise of the person who wrote the article, the quality and accuracy of the content, and the overall reputation of the website.
SEOs believe E-A-T was behind the algorithm change for two main reasons:
- Many of the worst-hit sites focused on “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) topics. These are subjects like health or finance where bad information could negatively affect a user’s life. E-A-T is particularly important on these pages.
- Google added a mention of E-A-T to the Google Search Evaluator Guidelines just months before the update occurred.
Following the update, it was no longer enough for websites to publish content following the old rules. Sites in these niches also had to make it clear they had the expertise required to provide specialized advice.
The Changes Worked
It’s now a couple of years since the algorithm change.
A quick search for health or finance-related topics suggests the update succeeded in its goal. The sites that rank for these search terms have taken significant steps to prove they are well-placed to write the content.
Take the results for the query “Is a sore throat a symptom of Coronavirus?”
The top result is from Healthline.
The information in the article has a ton of E-A-T backing it up. It was written by someone with a PHD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics who wrote a dissertation centered on influenza morphology. The article was also reviewed by an actual doctor.
Anyone reading knows they can trust the advice.
But I Don’t Run a Health Blog
If you run a business with a blog that discusses non-YMYL topics, you may wonder whether you need to do anything.
Google hasn’t confirmed that it uses E-A-T as a ranking factor. But, it does say that assessing your content in regards to E-A-T criteria “may help align it conceptually with the different signals that our automated systems use to rank.”
We can be certain that:
- Considering E-A-T won’t hurt your rankings.
- Big, successful sites are increasing their E-A-T.
- Considering E-A-T will future-proof your site against any changes to the algorithm that do see E-A-T regulations become stricter.
- Your posts will seem more authoritative to readers, resulting in a better user experience.
The question then becomes: how can you introduce elements of E-A-T into your content?
Here are some simple tips to help. Most of them will be relatively simple for a business to execute.
Create An Authoritative About Page
First, ensure any visitor to your site knows exactly who you are and what you do.
If people can’t easily access this information, consider updating your about page.
- What you do and why you’re qualified to do it.
- Information about who is behind your site.
- Contact details and address.
- Links to pess coverage.
- Customer testimonials.
Make sure the about page is easily accessible. Link to it in your menu and your footer.
You know your company is legitimate. The aim is to make sure that Google and your site visitors know this too.
Make Sure All Content on Your Site is High Quality
Great content will continue to be important. As well as ensuring new articles are well-produced, consider whether you have any older articles that don’t meet current standards.
This may be the case if you were inexperienced when you started producing content or if you had a smaller budget.
The good news is that it’s easy to go back and update (in the case of content that still ranks) or delete and redirect (in the case of content that doesn’t) any old web pages that don’t meet your new standards.
Publish Articles Under a Real Name.
If you still publish your articles under a name like “The [Company Name] Team” or “Guest Author” (or no name at all) then consider creating profiles for the people writing your articles.
The person will ideally be an expert in the subject matter they are writing about. Most companies have plenty of people whithin their team that can put an authoritive name to an article.
If your content is ghostwritten, you can still publish it under the name of someone at your company. Just be sure to check that the content is something the person is comfortable putting their name to. If it isn’t you should consider why this is the case and whether you need a new writer.
Alternatively, consider speaking to the writer about publishing the content under their name. This is effective if they are an expert in their field.
Create Author Profiles
Don’t just stop at a name. You need to show why the writer is well-qualified to provide the information. Thus, the next step is go ahead and build out these author profiles.
- An image.
- Links to social media profiles like LinkedIn or Twitter.
- A short biography.
- Information about the position at the company.
- Links to websites.
Moz is a leading SEO tool and they do this extremely well. Check out the author’s profile for their post on E-A-T best practices.
The point is to show readers why they should listen to the people who are writing the articles on your blog.
Get Expert Input
Getting expert opinion is an easy way to add authority to your article. It’s something well-respected news publications have done for years as a way to add weight to their stories.
Getting expert input is easier than ever before. Here are some easy ways you can do so:
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a digital PR service that connects experts with content producers. You can use the service to get input on certain topics from experts in the field.
- Use your network on platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter to get input from people working in a particular area. Make a post asking for opinions or the topic you are writing about.
- Website owners often jump at the chance to feature on other blogs. Consider reaching out to people who run businesses in the area you need an article on and suggest a guest post or a collaboration.
Once again, the aim is to prove to your readers (and Google) that your blog is a trustworthy place for them to get their information.
What Are You Doing to Improve Your Blog’s E-A-T?
I know that many business blogs are already taking steps to improve their authority—whether specifically for SEO reasons or just because it makes good sense to make your website seem as authoritative as possible.
If you’ve already done so, get in touch to let me know what you’re doing and I’ll add the best suggestions to the article. Just leave a comment below with your suggestions.