Google EAT 101: what is EAT, and how do you take it into account on your website?

EAT: Maybe you have heard of it, or maybe you haven’t. In both cases, this blog is interesting for you if you want to attract more traffic via Google: we explain what EAT is, and we give you practical, EAT-worthy tips for SEO so that your website becomes (even more) friends with Google. 😊

What is Google EAT?

EAT is a principle of Google and the abbreviation stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. In other words, in our language: Expertise, Authority, and Reliability.

To explain precisely how that principle plays a role for your website, let’s start at the very beginning and explain Google’s view in a nutshell.

As a search engine, Google strives to provide you as a searcher with the best possible service. When you ask Google a question, Google wants to answer you as best as possible by putting the best sources at the top of the search results to immediately find what you are looking for.

To ensure that you always get the best search results at the top, Google uses a complicated algorithm. That algorithm is secret And is constantly being improved, but we do know many important parts of the algorithm, in other words: important ranking factors.

This is where it gets interesting: Human Evaluators or Search Quality Raters, among others, play a role in improving the algorithm. Human Evaluators are people who assess (the outcome of) Google’s algorithm. They, therefore, provide feedback on the search results as presented to them from Google. This input is used to refine and improve Google’s algorithm continuously.

Human Evaluators work based on guidelines, the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Among other things, EAT comes into play in those guidelines: the Evaluators are asked to assess websites, web pages, authors, and content on Expertise, Authority, and Reliability. This is what Google says about EAT:

Expertise

It speaks for itself: if you are an expert in something, then you have a lot of knowledge about a certain subject or in a particular industry. Expertise is not equally important in every area. Just look at these two situations:

Suppose you are looking for different ways to combine a certain color in your outfit, a blog from your favorite blogger whose style appeals to you. That blogger does not necessarily have to pass the fashion academy, design four clothing collections per year, and sit front-row at New York Fashion Week.

If you seek medical advice because you have pain breathing, you would instead read an in-depth article from a lung specialist than from a computer science student who writes blogs about health as a hobby in his spare time.

In other words: expertise is relative. For some industries, expertise is indispensable, and a lack of expertise can have dangerous consequences (see situation two above). We will discuss this further under the heading YMYL pages.

Authoritativeness or Authority

Authority is all about your reputation as an author or as a website, especially your reputation with other experts in your industry or area of expertise.

To find out if you are an authority in your field or industry, Google’s Search Quality Raters search the internet for insights that can say something about your authority.

 A good indicator of authority within your field is, for example, a backlink from a website that has authority within your industry. Even without a link to your website, a positive mention is a good indication for the Quality Raters of Google that you have authority. However, for SEO, the value of a backlink is greater.

Trustworthiness or Reliability

Reliability refers to the reliability of your website, reliability of the authors within your site, and reliability of the content. 

It’s about being accurate, sharing correct information, and being transparent. Search Quality Raters check, for example, whether the articles you publish are in the name of a specific (reliable) author.

Also important for your reliability is good customer service that can be found quickly on your site and with which your customers can easily contact. Good reviews are also an indicator of your reliability.

Examples of Google EAT

What Google EAT look like in practice? For example like this:

A news article is judged on journalistic professionalism: the information given must be true. It must be presented in such a way that you, as a reader, understand the subject without being ‘forced upon it. Reputable news sources often have clear guidelines for their reporters to ensure their content’s accuracy, quality, and objectivity. It is a plus if these guidelines can also be found online and can therefore be verified.

Websites and articles dealing with scientific topics should be published by people with proven scientific expertise. The issues covered in the article should be consistent with the scientific consensus on the topic.

If a website or online article provides financial, legal, or tax advice, it must have a reliable source. The information must also be regularly updated.

Other parts of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines

The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines not only address EAT but also give Human Evaluators even more points to watch out for when assessing search engine results or websites.

Purpose of the page

An important question that Google asks itself with every page is: does this page help the user? If this is not the case, and if, for example, there is hate speech or incorrect information, the page will be labeled as ‘Low-Quality Content ‘. A page whose quality is rated so poorly does not get good rankings.

Always invest in content that is useful and serves a clear purpose. In other words: that answers search questions. Examples Google cites of general purposes that a page can have:

– Share information on a particular topic;

– Share personal or social information;

– Share photos, videos or other media ;

– Express an opinion or point of view;

– Entertaining;

– Selling products or services;

– Create a place where people can ask and answer questions;

– Create a place where people can share files or download software.

Quality of the content

To really serve a visitor and answer his search query, a page must provide qualitative content. Quality content requires effort, time investment, expertise, and talent. You can see these ingredients on a high-quality page: you can see that it is not a rush but that the author has really done his best to make his story complete and clear.

Information about the website or the author (reputation)

For example, you can provide clear information about your website on the About us page. Show that you know what you are talking about by, for example, mentioning awards and trade unions to which you are affiliated. As an author, you would do well to mention, for example, experience, education, and accreditations that show that you are an expert in your field. For webshops, it is important that there is good customer service that is easy to reach and whose contact details are easy to find on the website.

YMYL pages

Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness are essential for every topic that comes up online. Still, there are some topics about which you as a searcher only get correct information because being misinformed can have significant personal consequences.

The acronym YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life: YMYL pages cover important topics that can impact your happiness, health, financial stability or security. Google calls such pages YMYL pages, and for these types of pages, the Google EAT principles weigh extra heavily.

Your Money or Your Life: Examples

The correct information is of great importance when it comes to your life or your money. Logical too: think back to the example above where you are struggling with breathing problems and search the internet for a good source. You want to read a good, medically substantiated text written by someone who has a medical background and who has been proven to know what he is talking about. In other words: you are looking for a reliable authority to help you further.

The same is true if you want to take out a mortgage: you are going to buy a house and are about to make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. Then you want advice that you can rely on, and you are not waiting, to put it mildly, for a rogue mortgage tent that slyly persuades you to take out a mortgage that will get you into financial trouble afterward because of several hidden problems.

You understand the principle: with YMYL pages, it is all the more important that the quality of the content is good. Wrong information can have major consequences for a person’s quality of life. For ‘normal’ websites, Google already looks at points such as the page’s quality, the purpose of the page, and EAT, but with YMYL pages, Google is even stricter.

Is EAT important to my website?

We can be brief about this: yes! If you like to use the services of Google and want to attract visitors and customers via the search engine. For the sake of convenience, we assume that every company is helped with this since 93% of the online experiences start with a search engine, and Google is by far the most used search engine in the world.

Is Google EAT a ranking factor?

Technically, the guidelines, and thus the EAT principles, serve as a reference for Google’s Human Evaluators. In principle, EAT is not a ranking factor, but it is important. The guidelines provide clear insight into the direction Google wants to go with its algorithm and what Google is looking for in a high-quality web page.

How does Google use Human Evaluators?

EAT is a human concept. Therefore, it is technically not (yet) possible for Google to have the algorithm entirely ‘sense’ which websites, pages, and authors radiate expertise, authenticity, and reliability. 

Because it is not possible to determine without human intervention whether a website scores well on EAT, EAT is not a ranking factor. However, that does not mean that EAT is less important: EAT is in line with all other actions of Google, which have the great common denominator that they want to give the searcher the best possible answer as quickly as possible.

To evaluate websites, pages, and authors based on EAT, Google uses people in the role of Human Evaluators. The insights of the Human Evaluators are used to improve the algorithm. So it is not the case that the Human Evaluators manually adjust the search results based on their findings.

This is how Google updates its algorithm based on input from Human Evaluators:

Step 1: The developers of the Google algorithm come up with new possibilities to further improve the quality of the search results.

Step 2: The developers show the Human Evaluators the search results with and without the latest improvements. The Human Evaluators do not know in advance which version they will see. Their evaluation based on the guidelines provides the developers with valuable feedback on the search results.

Step 3: With the feedback from the Human Evaluators as a guideline, the developers decide whether the improvements lead to a positive or negative experience. If the experience is positive, improvements can be made to the algorithm based on this.

You can find more about this on this page.

How do I make my website EAT-proof?

By taking EAT into account in the way you manifest yourself on your website, you do what Google likes: you put the user and their search query first.

We are happy to explain the most important ways in which you can make your website EAT-proof.

Keep an eye on the importance of backlinks and mentions.

Gary Illyes (Google webmaster trend analyst) states that EAT is largely based on backlinks and mentions from other websites. This is evident from a tweet from Marie Heynes:

I asked Gary about EAT. He said it’s largely based on links and mentions on authoritative sites. I.e. if the Washington post mentions you, that’s good.

Links are better, but a mention on a high-quality website certainly helps if you want to score well on the EAT principles.

Also interesting: backlinks to your website don’t necessarily have to come from high authority websites. Of course, it is great and will help you in the rankings if you get backlinks from sites like Wikipedia or the AD, but what also works is to get backlinks from websites that have backlinks from a high authority website. So suppose the (thematically relevant) website of Joop has a backlink from Wikipedia, then it already gives your website an EAT boost to get a backlink from Joop’s website.

Have a good online reputation

To find out your online reputation, the Human Evaluators look at more than just the backlinks and mentions. Other things they pay attention to our online reviews, awards, and recommendations from experts in your field. So these are parts that Google values. 

Although EAT is not an official ranking factor and the Human Evaluators do not directly adjust the search engine results based on EAT, it is important to consider these factors. 

This ‘human’ approach in which Google wants to know whether your website and its information can be trusted is the approach that Google is fully committed to.

Wikipedia is mentioned several times in the guidelines document: Human Evaluators are called upon to check whether a brand, website, or person has a Wikipedia page. If you have a Wikipedia page, that will give you a big boost in EAT. However, getting a Wikipedia page is not easy. A nice workaround is to try to be mentioned on a Wikipedia page. Unfortunately, that is not easy either.

Another way to check your online reputation is the reviews that customers and visitors to your website give about your website or company. It is therefore advisable to collect as many (good 😉) reviews as possible on well-known review websites. Substantive reviews weigh more heavily than reviews in which only a grade is given.

This is what Google says about Reputation Research in the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:

 

Have content written by experts

The content on your website must be written by an expert in your field. How do you show this? For example, by adding a piece of text to your articles in which you name the author, explain what he/she does, and include a short biography.

You go one step further by linking to a separate page about the author. You use that page to show that the author knows what he is talking about. Provide a full biography of the author and include at least the following information:

– Qualifications

– Achievements and successes

– Awards

– Background

– Media attention

Number of years of experience in the industry

This kind of information is relevant if it is about the author and if it is about your organization or your company.

Tell further on the author page or the About us page why you are the most reliable party in your industry and demonstrate this utilizing the information mentioned.

You see: you have to be able to brag a little. By nature, people do not like to brag, but for EAT, that is important.

If you want to help Google an extra step, add schema markers to your page and specify the Person and the Author. This way, you structure the data in a way that is easy for Google to understand.

 

Be transparent

Make sure your website is transparent. You do this by, among other things, having the following items present on your website:

– Extensive About us page;

– FAQ page;

– Easily findable contact page and multiple ways to let people contact you, for example, by telephone, e-mail, with a contact form or in a chat;

– References and external links to sources, showing that you have done thorough research for writing the most important content on your website;

– Privacy Statement and Terms and Conditions;

– Name of the author (and preferably more information about him or her) in your posts;

– Secure connection (SSL).

Make all the facts correct.

With YMYL websites, it is crucial that all facts are correct, and of course, this is also important with all other websites. Google considers Wikipedia an important source of information, so facts should match the information on the subject on Wikipedia. Working with good sources and references to these sources makes it easier for Google to fact-check. In addition, you show what you have done thorough research into the subject.

 

Provide pages with a purpose

Write content with a clear, helpful purpose: put the user first and always write from a search query or search intent. So always research what information your target group is looking for and the information already available that (partly) answers that search question. This way, you are well prepared and add something with your content.

 

Update your content regularly.

It is important that the content is correct and also remains correct. It is possible that some articles become outdated and therefore no longer provide the correct information in the long run. Google indicates in the guidelines that updating content is important for this reason.

With ‘normal’ websites, it is already important that content is up-to-date, but with YMYL websites, these criteria weigh extra heavily. The extent to which your content updates is also essential for Google EAT: for example are entire paragraphs adjusted, and new pieces of content added, or are a few words changed here and there?

 

Generate Brand Signals

An important signal for EAT is the awareness and popularity of your brand. One way in which Google could measure this is through ‘branded searches’, i.e. search sessions based on your brand name or company name. The more branded searches, the more popular the brand is. These concerns exact branded searches, such as [Searchcombat], and branded searches combined with another search term, for example [Searchcombat seo].

Two ways to increase branded searches are by using YouTube marketing and making podcasts. People who see your YouTube video or listen to your podcast that showcases your brand name will soon be tempted to perform a branded search. It is often faster and easier to google the name or company name than to reach the website in any other way.

SEO and EAT: how is my website doing?

Above you will find answers to many questions about EAT. You’re welcome! But the most important question you will not get answered in this blog: what is the status of your website or the field of SEO and Google EAT?

Fortunately, the answer to that question is not far away: all you have to do is pick up the phone and dial our number (is our phone number easy to find? 😉). We are happy to help you with questions about how Google sees your website.

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