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Author: Tim Stokoe - Content Director Date: 21/06/2016
As marketers, we all exist in a world driven (and often blighted) by buzz words and spurious acronyms. However, here is one that really deserves attention. E.A.T. (Expertise; Authority; Trust) is now a key facet of search marketing, social media and broader content marketing - and was last year given priority status by Google in updates to its algorithm.
Well, let’s go back a step first. In March 2014, Google’s Quality Rater’s Manual was leaked to the interwebs, revealing to a confused world that Google ranks websites according to “E.A.T.” This faux-pas provided webmasters, bloggers and copywriters alike with much food for thought. If not downright indigestion.
Amongst many insights revealed, the key piece revolved around Google’s validation of websites against a number of qualitative criteria including, as noted in Sarah Holt’s blog post:
So the gist of all this is combining quality of information with good service, to provide a fulfilling user experience. Whilst this may not be rocket surgery, it does reinforce the Google premise of quality over quantity. But how does E.A.T. fit in with all of this?
The idea behind Expertise/Authority/Trust is to accommodate the heavy reliance of Google’s algorithms on ‘votes’. These take many forms but are largely based around shares and links from reputable authorities and experts – which in turn contribute to a page or site’s ranking in the SERPs (search engine results pages). That means that raters are now looking beyond ‘popularity’ and focusing on prioritising content of real substance. So maybe now is the time to think about removing those kitten and puppy videos from your editorial calendar. Whilst they may still provide the shares, they’re not going to contribute to the informational or intellectual fulfilment of your target audience. Unless you’re a pet rescue website, in which case good on you.
“Expertise” relates to third-party opinions of your site and content. Positive user reviews clearly play a key role here, as do references and recommendations made by other credible experts in your field or associated category. “When a high level of authoritativeness or expertise is needed, the reputation of a website should be judged on what expert opinions have to say. Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies, are strong evidence of very positive reputation.” In other words, in addition to delivering relevant, expert content, get working on that partnership and syndication strategy!
The perception of “Authority” is, in effect, very similar, in that it is dependent upon the opinions of reputable third parties. Google advises that raters should be “sceptical of claims that websites make about themselves” and instead place more trust in external sources. In other words, whilst it is essential to be promoting your product or service effectively through your content, make sure you’re walking the talk before you do the talking!
Another, slightly less intuitive, way of improving authority is co-citation. This involves your brand being mentioned on another site, but not actually linked to; the more brand mentions you receive (on reputable sites), the more highly Google rates your authority. Alternatively, mention competitive or related sites or brands on your site or mention your own brand in social media posts or third party blogs.
Whilst “Trust” may be most applicable for ecommerce or financial services sites, the basic tenets of this one apply across all types of website. The key here is the provision of easily accessible contact information to enable customers or visitors to ask questions or seek assistance.
Some key points to take on-board would be:
Clearly, the better you understand your audience’s needs, the more relevant you can make your content. However, more importantly now, the more relevant, honest and connected your content – the more likely it is to reach your target audience through increased SERPs visibility.
References and related reading
Image source: Amy King's Alias blog
E.A.T: The Not-So-Secret Secret To SEO; Sarah Holt – WestHost; July 29, 2014
Google’s Quality Rater’s Manual 5.0, March 31, 2014.
Linking Techniques That Will Help Your Content Get Ranked, Found, and Read; Neil Patel – Content Marketing Institute; July 9, 2015