E-A-T is an acronym which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness and is a core part of the metrics that Google uses to assess websites and their pages. In layman's terms, E-A-T is a set of characteristics that indicate whether a page is high-quality or not and whether that page is helpful to the user. The principles of E-A-T were developed by Google and have been around since 2013 or so.
Google states that EAT is incredibly important.
In a recent interview, HJ Kim, VP of search at Google said that the main function of EAT is to
‘make sure that the content people consume is not going to be harmful in any way.’
EAT principles are used by Google (humanoid) search evaluators to determine how well Google’s algorithm is performing. Google’s quality evaluators are a group of people who evaluate the results based upon a set of guidelines that are provided by google. Their efforts help to educate the AI algorithm, with the end result being an improvement in the overall quality of the search results.
Therefore EAT principles give SEOs key insights into what Google determines to be a quality page or website.
Before we go any further let's break it down into its three components.
Expertisemeans to have a demonstrably high level of skill and or knowledge in a particular field. The creator of the content must have the skills and knowledge in order to display expertise. For example Google says ‘medical advice should be written or produced by people or organisations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation.’
Authoritativeness - to become an authority you need to already have expertise in a given field. Reputation is key to being an authority in any given subject or field. If an individual or website is the go-to-source for a piece of information, this usually indicates that they are an authority on that subject.
Trustworthinessis about the legitimacy of the website and the content within it. Google’s human evaluators look for a number of things to evaluate this.
When you are seen as a trustworthy expert and source, people trust that you will provide accurate information.
YMYL and EAT
YMYL - apologies, more marketing acronyms thrown into the mix. But this one is quite important and needs to be mentioned. YMYL stands for ‘Your Money or Your Life’. The term is used by Google and comes from Google’s aforementioned search quality evaluator guidelines.
Google uses YMYL as a term for pages that can potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. A page that details ways to deal with Acne would be classed as a YMYL page. A page that advises UK citizens residing in the EU after Brexit about how their circumstances have changed from a legal perspective, would also be an example of a YMYL page.
Here are some examples of types of YMYL pages.
News and current affairs - political affairs, reportage, etc.
Government and Law related topics - legal advice, information about rights, etc.
Shopping - information about products that can be purchased online.
Medical Advice - information on health conditions, drugs, medical treatments, etc.
Google will look at YMYL pages and apply the principles of EAT to them at the very highest standard.
Is EAT a Ranking Factor?
Yeah, kind of. But it is complicated. Expertise, authoritativeness, and trust are all human concepts, and these don’t translate easily for learning machines to understand. Therefore there is no specific EAT algorithm – that is to say – there are no tangible measurements that a computer algorithm can calculate. Google engineers can understand the tangible signals that align with E-A-T and make adjustments to the ranking algorithms accordingly.
How important is EAT?
It is really important for webmasters, particularly with YMYL pages to be mindful of the principles of E-A-T as they will be the most affected by the principles.
Stuff that you can do to improve your EAT
Include Experts in your content
Expert driven, User focused content is key to performing well in the search rankings.
Pages must have a purpose and that purpose must match the user intent.
Links and mentions
Build lots of links to your pages. Getting mentions from high authority sites is a great way to boost authoritativeness. Google does not say explicitly that links directly affect authoritativeness, many SEOs agree that this is the case however.
Accuracy & factually sound content
Check your information for its accuracy. Make sure your claims are substantiated by credible sources (not just a random tick tocker who has recently shot to fame). If you are writing about miracle cures to mysterious conditions that have come from a less than trustworthy source, you may well find yourself falling foul of Google algorithm. Check that your content is factually correct.
Keep things up to date, make sure that if there have been any changes to laws or regulations or medical advice, you are displaying the most up-to-date version of this.
Reviews, reviews and more reviews. It kinda goes without saying that reviews are a very important part of trust & reputation building. There are a plethora of third party review platforms that businesses use to elevate their Trustworthiness. Trustpilot, Yellow pages, etc. Use them. Google reviews is a great place to start if you do not have any reviews for your business/ The benefit of Google reviews is that they are a local SEO ranking factor in the big G’s algorithm.
An example of high EAT or good page quality.
Healthline.com is a website that dominates search on a range of different topics relating to health matters. ( a great place to get links if you are working with health/medical professionals.)
Here is an article about skincare from healthline.com
As you can see up in the top right a medical professional who has expertise in the field of dermatology has personally reviewed the article to ensure that the advice given is sound. All of Healthline's articles are reviewed in the same fashion, making it a very reputable place to source information about health issues. We can safely assume that this would be looked upon favourably by the human evaluators at Google.
Business owners should be mindful of the principles of EAT. They will undoubtedly become an ever increasing staple for high quality, high ranking websites and web pages.
Google will be changing its standards to stay up-to-date with delivering the best results to match user intent. Webmasters, business owners and SEOs will need to do the same.
Google lives by the standards of EAT everyday, and so should you.