The recent Helpful Content Update that took place in December 2022 brought many changes to Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, namely by adding an extra E to the popular acronym E-A-T.
SEOs have been familiar with E-A-T for quite a while, especially when optimizing YMYL (your money or your life) websites. It stood for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and those three factors were the guiding principles of all SEO (search engine optimization) tactics.
What’s the extra E for now that it’s Google E-E-A-T?
It stands for experience, which refers to displaying first-hand experience in your content, especially for YMYL topics.
Google wants to know that you have personal experience with the topics you create content for, which will make you more authoritative and trustworthy on the subject.
The example Google gave in the update posed the question, “Would you want to read a product review from someone who has experience using the product or a review from someone who has not?”
It’s a potent point, as exhibiting life experience for a topic makes website content more unique, valuable, and trustworthy for readers.
Adding the new E means web admins must incorporate personal experience in their SEO strategies to stay competitive on the SERPs.
Read on to learn how to optimize your page for the E-E-A-T Google update as well as learn more about the changes to the Quality Rater Guidelines.
E-E-A-T vs. E-A-T: What’s the Difference?
If the E-E-A-T Google update took you by surprise (you wouldn’t be alone there, as Google announced and released two updates in late 2022 out of practically nowhere), you may feel as if you missed the boat on E-E-A-T.
After all, if your website content already exhibits expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, what else do you need to add?
Basically, double E-A-T is all about showing off the personal experience you have with your niche, which is a ranking factor Google is now looking for in your content.
For instance, let’s say that you’re going to post a product review for something that you own and use every day, like your keyboard. Since you’ve used it, you’ll know lots of highly specific things about it that you like and some things that you don’t, which is due to your personal experience with it.
Yet, if you post a generic review that doesn’t highlight any of your actual experiences, it won’t be of much value to readers.
Rather, suppose you mention how you love the long battery life for airplane rides, easy-to-press keys for optimal typing speed, and transportability for writing on the go. In that case, it becomes clear that you’ve actually used the product, and your review becomes more valuable as a result.
Thanks to the Helpful Content Update of 2022, Google’s algorithm will also notice the personal experience you displayed in your review, and you’ll rank higher because of it.
That’s a basic overview of how experience works in E-E-A-T, so ensure to highlight your personal experiences in your content wherever possible.
Trustworthiness is the most important
In the update, Google also revealed that trustworthiness is the most important factor in the entire acronym.
To bring this point home, they released a Venn diagram that had trust in the very center, with experience, expertise, and authoritativeness surrounding it on each respective side. Trust is the most critical component, Google claims because untrustworthy pages will always have low E-A-T, no matter how much expertise or authoritativeness they have.
Accordingly, website owners need to focus on making their content as trustworthy as possible by focusing on positive customer reviews, high-authority backlinks, and factually accurate content.
If you’re deemed a website Google can trust, you’ll soar through the search rankings, so it’s the factor you should focus on the most in your SEO efforts.
Improving E-E-A-T SEO
Since you know more about the algorithm update and the changes it made, let’s learn how to tweak your content creation efforts to gain traction in the SERPs.
Experience is the new kid in town, and trustworthiness reigns supreme, which are the two most significant changes content creators need to keep in mind moving forward. By following these principles, you’ll be able to consistently create high-quality content that ranks high on Google searches.
Showcase your first-hand experience on topics
The new E means experience is now the name of the game for SEO content. To quote the definition of experience in the Google Quality Rater Guidelines directly, “Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic.”
Search quality evaluators will now comb through your content to see if you mention any direct experiences that pertain to the subject matter. That could be your physical experience with a product, or it could relate to the services you provide.
As an example, let’s say that you’ve been a link-building expert for many years now. You’ve built high-authority links for countless websites, and you’ve helped them reach the top of the Google SERPs.
That’s plenty of real-world experience that you can mention in your content for an SEO boost. Yet, if you create generic marketing copy promoting your services that don’t mention any of your actual experience, you won’t see much love in Google’s search results.
In this regard, it can help to work with SMEs (subject matter experts) when developing new blog posts, infographics, and videos. Unlike most writers who will conduct research on the internet to write about topics, SMEs will have the first-hand experience that Google is now looking for, which can help your SEO profile.
Display competency & expertise on the subject matter
Lots of content creators are confusing the difference between experience and expertise. Experience refers to real-world interactions that relate to your subject matter, while expertise involves the necessary skills and knowledge required to cover a topic.
In other words, you can have expertise on a subject but lack experience and vice-versa, which is a big reason why Google adopted the new E in the first place.
Expertise is primarily about who is behind the content. Are you knowledgeable and skilled in the topic you’re writing about? If so, then you have the expertise required to publish articles about it.
Quality & relevance also play significant roles in displaying expertise in your content. For Google (and your target audience) to deem your content as truly valuable, it needs to solve user problems, educate, inform, or entertain.
Also, don’t hesitate to show off the expertise of whoever created your content.
To do so, include author bios at the beginning or end of your posts, highlighting the author’s expertise, experience, and awards. Google will notice this, and the display of expertise will boost your SEO profile.
Besides the author bio box, create entire pages dedicated to each content creator on your website, further highlighting their achievements and expertise.
As an added benefit, showcasing the expertise of your authors will catch the attention of not only Google but also your target audience – which can help you become recognized as a thought leader in your field.
Exhibit your authority
Authoritativeness is another core component of E-E-A-T, and you shouldn’t forget about it. Google wants to know that you’re an authority in your field that other websites trust, which is why acquiring high-quality backlinks is the #1 thing you can do to boost your website’s authority.
Whenever a trusted website links back to your site, it contributes to your domain authority.
Low-quality backlinks from untrusted websites won’t do you any good, which is why it’s best to avoid them at all costs.
Also, Google rolled out a Link Spam Update along with the Helpful Content Update, and it had a pretty profound impact on website rankings. The update ‘turned off’ the effects of links that were bought, which tanked the SEO profiles of many businesses.
As such, you’ll want to avoid ‘black hat’ link-building techniques like buying backlinks or spamming links in forum discussions, as they won’t do you any good.
Instead, focus on the following:
- Guest posting on other high-quality blogs in your niche
- Creating valuable content like infographics that attract backlinks
- Replacing broken links online
- Appearing on podcasts and YouTube channels
- Writing testimonials for reputable brands’ products & services
These are all acceptable ‘white hat’ link-building techniques that will boost your site’s authority for higher SERP rankings.
Lastly, don’t forget to regularly update your content so it stays fresh, which will boost your authority. Outdated guides and infographics won’t do you any good, so ensure you update them on a consistent basis.
Trustworthiness reigns supreme
As stated before, trust is the most important aspect of E-E-A-T, so you should spend the majority of your time making your site more trustworthy.
How do you do that?
There are a variety of ways, such as making it effortless for users to figure out who you are and how to contact you. That’s because users will have an easier time trusting your website if they know who is behind it and how to contact you should any issues arise.
As a rule of thumb, include a ‘Contact Us’ page that contains an email form and phone number. Not only that, but you should include your contact information in the footer on the homepage.
Your visitors will trust you more if they can learn a bit more about you, which is why an ‘About Us’ page is a necessity for any trustworthy website.
Besides including a brief history & explanation of your company, it’s essential to include ‘trust elements’ here, such as any awards, membership badges for prestigious organizations, and any other affiliations you may have.
Also, you should avoid clickbait titles at all costs, as that’s a surefire way to ruin your website’s reputation. Instead, you should only release high-quality content that’s valuable to your target audience, and you should never lie in the title to get clicks, as that will only backfire in the long run.
Thin content is another no-no, so if you have web pages with less than 700 words of content, beef them up to at least 1,000.
Google My Business reviews, case studies, & testimonials
Positive testimonials, case studies, and reviews from customers will go a long way in boosting your website’s trustworthiness.
In fact, good reviews on Google My Business will increase your chances of ranking in the Local 3-Pack, which is huge for local SEO strategies.
For every client that you serve, politely ask them to review your company on Google My Business, social media, Yelp, Glassdoor, or other review sites. Taking the extra step to ask clients to leave reviews will make a huge difference, as even satisfied clients sometimes won’t leave reviews unless prompted to do so.
Conducting case studies with satisfied clients is another trustworthiness booster, and they’ll help persuade prospects to choose your products & services over competitors.
How Does the E-E-A-T Google Update Affect YMYL Sites?
Your money or your life (YMYL) sites have long catered to Google’s E-A-T guidelines, and now they have a new E to deal with.
What’s YMYL all about?
Essentially, YMYL sites are websites that deal with users’ healthcare or finances. Since these are both sensitive and extremely important, Google employs extra caution when ranking YMYL sites. That’s because the last thing they want is to rank a website that provides false information that could harm users’ health or cost them lots of money.
There are now instances where sharing life experiences is acceptable for YMYL sites, such as a content creator sharing a humorous video of how frustrating it can be to file taxes. Since the creator isn’t trying to scam someone, it’s okay if they aren’t a financial expert.
Yet, if the content is a step-by-step guide to filing taxes, it needs to be written by a real-life financial expert for it to rank.
The same is true for healthcare content, as only physicians and other healthcare experts can provide medical advice, but any content creator can share anecdotes and life experiences about health issues.
Final Thoughts: The E-E-A-T Google Update
The E-E-A-T Google update can be summed up by two things; the inclusion of experience as a ranking factor and the heightened emphasis on trust.
Content marketing efforts now need to involve sharing personal experiences with topics that will help earn their reader’s trust.
Do you need help developing a content marketing strategy that incorporates the E-E-A-T and Link Spam updates?