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Understanding E-A-T in Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines

February 2019

In August 2018, Google announced that it was making sweeping updates to its algorithm. Among the changes was a shift in how Google how defines “quality content.” For years, Google has been saying that high-quality content would rank higher than shoddier content. If there was a problem with this way of explaining things, it was that “quality content” was not always clearly defined. After all, a lot of factors go into determining the “quality” of a piece of content. The writing style; the organization of information; the topic of conversation; the questions the content answered: all these factors and more can and have been linked to content “quality.”

Related: Can Questions and Answers Boost Your Rankings?

With the 2018 update, though, Google clarified its search quality rating guidelines a bit. Instead of just saying that the search engine would value quality content, Google pivoted to saying that it wanted content that was “high E-A-T.”

What Is E-A-T?
What does “high E-A-T” mean, you may ask?
The simple definition is that E-A-T is an initialism that stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. These three characteristics are now the top three benchmarks that Google uses to define the quality of content in a search. “High E-A-T” content, then, ranks higher than “low E-A-T” content.

By boosting the E-A-T of your site and content, you can achieve higher rankings in Google searches.

How to Achieve High E-A-T
While E-A-T has three components, they all kind of bleed into one another. Expertise plays into establishing authority, which in turn helps build trust between your site and your readers. So, achieving high E-A-T is less about fighting a war on three fronts and more about trying to establish trust through expertise and authority.

Crucial to the consideration of authority and expertise online is the concept of “Your Money, Your Life” pages, or YMYL pages. These pages are typically editorial content that is presenting a specific argument, a point of view, or an answer to a question. Google requires that authoritative experts write these pages on the topic at hand. Types of sites that fall into the YMYL category include:

Pages discussing medical conditions or medical information
Pages providing financial advice
Pages concerning any other topic that could have a negative impact on a person’s wealth, health, or happiness if the information on the page was inaccurate

Obviously, there is some room for interpretation here. For instance, a product page on a website that portrays a product in a positive light could potentially have a negative impact on a person’s wealth if they were to purchase the product and later find that it didn’t meet their needs. However, sales/marketing does not technically fall into any of the three categories above, so it doesn’t affect quality.

On the other hand, if you are writing a blog for a law firm and are answering a common legal question, readers have a right to expect accurate information from a qualified, authoritative source. Thus, this kind of page would likely fall under the YMYL rule.

Site managers can navigate this rule by clearly listing the authors of editorial content and including writer bios that establish expertise in the topic at hand. This step would be a smart “first foray” into improving your site’s E-A-T.

Are you interested in learning more about E-A-T or YMYL, or in finding other ways to boost your site’s E-A-T rating? If so, contact our team at Inherent today.