Expertise, Authority, Trust E-A-T – what it means, why it’s important & what to do
An unexpected drop in website traffic has been experienced by some companies and according to Marie Haynes Consulting, who Google refer to as an authority in E-A-T, this could well relate to a core Google Algorithm Update in early August 2019. Google give the advice that if you’ve been negatively affected by a drop in traffic following an update, then you need to ‘get to know the quality rater guidelines and E-A-T’ Expertise, Authority and Trust concept.
With the announcement being of interest to our clients (and any business who updates their own website and content using internal resource), I’ve absorbed the main points from the article referred to above, Google webmaster blog on 1st August and various other recommended sources to describe logically what it all means:
The first thing to understand is that the concept of E-A-T is not new. For a long while now, and as a basic premise, Google has wanted genuine, useful and informatively content rich websites, with the bonus points being for uniqueness of content (which is hard work and time consuming).
Google provides a list of what to consider with regard to their core update based on E-A-T, some points are vague, some are variations on a theme, so aim to understand it conceptually, carry out a bit of best practice and don’t over analyse it or expect too much.
If you or a representative of your business is an expert in your field and is able to communicate that richly, demonstrating expertise through short videos, whitepapers, case studies etc, then you’re doing exactly the right thing – keep on doing it. This is the E of Expertise being demonstrated (or proven).
It’s goes to follow that if you’re expert in your field and demonstrating this with clarity and transparency, then you will have a natural Authority in your field. This is likely to have amassed over a long period of time but a new business can work hard at this too. Curation is a technique for helping Authority, although the core update is quick to say that curating the work of another industry expert will do nothing unless you provide your own well researched views or wisdom in sufficient depth. So, this is the A of Authority.
If you’re doing all of the above, then you’ll be gaining some success with Trust, the T of E-A-T. Probably the single main contributor to how you’re scored on Trust is through good reviews. So while some genuinely good companies are afraid to put their neck on the line (due to some very unfair reviews by irrational people), it is worth doing. For one, it keeps everyone in your organisation on their toes.
All of the above takes time but it is a good mindset to get into and if nothing else, it does make sense.
For a smaller business, the top best practice tips from this would be:
1.Aim to invest time in one or two top quality, unique in depth content pieces (like new industry research or a new angle on it, a new video or an authoritative whitepaper or playbook to coin some jargon), rather than bash out rewritten curations or other content deemed thin. When time is tight, quality over quantity winds. You can get a lot of mileage out of one good piece of research, by repurposing it across different mediums, all the while it being shared and commented on by other people. If your business is a complex one, then depth and substance should come natural to you. It is the simpler or more commonplace type of business that can struggle to be original or find enough material to work with.
2.If your business is more informal, with your customers right on your (very special and unique) wavelength, then the shorter, entertaining, jokey, update of a day in your life type of post will tick the boxes of great user experience (for your users) and shareability. If your users/customers love you, then this will be clear and Google will love you too. For example, Innocence is a corporate but still retains a bit of its original edginess and fun loving approach. Craft beer producers typically go for the informal, heart on sleeve approach and it works well. Such businesses find they talk knowldgeably about their business without even realising it.
3.Feel great about what you’ve researched or even written spontaneously, so much so you can’t wait to get it out there. If you feel these things, then the content is likely to be deemed good by Google who specifically says ‘would you want to bookmark it, share with a friend or recommend’ if you were your customer?
4.Think about your brand over and above obsessing with certain key phrases and how you rank. Google loves brands (after all, if a brand is successful, it is likely to be an Expert/one of the best in its field, it’s likely to have Authority and Trust, the components of E-A-T). If your brand name is the overriding search keyphrase showing up in Google Console (or your supplied Dashboard or Analytics report supplied), rather than a more generic one that you feel is important, then this is a good thing, not a bad thing.
5.If you are using someone else’s material (either curating it or re-writing & citing), go the extra mile to ‘read up’ on your topic and cite a variety of views or opinions before giving your own.
6.This is an interesting point in the webmaster list ‘ Does the headline or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?’ Neil Patel comments in his version of the webmaster blog that ‘8 out of 10 people read a headline leaving 2 out of 10 to click through to read the rest. He goes on to suggest focusing on ‘user experience’ in your headline, rather than being keyword focussed or click bait focussed. Why bother if only 2% will read your hard worked article or research you may say. My answer is simple – apply the 80/20 Pareto rule. The 20% that do will be your best/first customer.
And quite simply, ask yourself this question – if your life depended on it, would you buy into what the website says/recommends/advises? Would you give it your credit card details with no qualm whatsoever. Step back, be critical and if you’re confident of both, then you’re likely well on the way to providing the sort of strong website Google is looking for.
The best person to write EAT content is the business owner, the product manager or whoever lives and breathes the product or service. However, not all business owners have the inclincation or time to do this, or are even too close to the business, so it goes to an external expert or agency. This works perfectly well as long as the consultant you use genuinely understands and empathises with your business.
Take home point really worth considering:
Odd to place this last but Glen Gabe’s article Google’s Core Algorithm updates and the power of user studies, offers a simple tip so easily overlooked. Get your clients, or potential client’s/customers (for an incentive of some kind) review your site content. The benefits are twofold.
1.You get some real feedback
2.You’re pressing your brand in a subtle way
SEO, EAT, changing algorithms, core updates – you should be able to stride through all of these if you play by the simple rule of creating top quality work (content) you’re proud off or by investing in someone that can ‘speak in your voice’ and have that natural empathy with the very people who grow your business.