Google’s E-E-A-T: What It Means and How to Apply It

Google’s E-E-A-T stands for and emphasizes Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness in content evaluation. It’s a new way for Google to look at websites and decide if they’re good.
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E-E-A-T, or “Double-E-A-T,” is a new part of Google’s updated search rater guidelines.
These updated guidelines emphasize the importance of improving the reliability, originality, authenticity, and relevance of search results, with trustworthiness being a crucial element of SEO strategy.
This guide breaks down E-E-A-T’s principles, looking at its origins, core components, and impact on SEO.
It will also provide tips on how to improve your website’s E-E-A-T score and more!

Unpacking Google's E-E-A-T Principle

Google’s E-A-T framework, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is a set of guidelines used by search raters to evaluate the quality of web content.
Recently, Google expanded this framework by adding “Experience” to the mix. This has resulted in the new E-E-A-T or Double-E-A-T principle.
Understanding its core components, ramifications for SEO, and whether it is a ranking factor has become more crucial for SEO professionals and marketers alike.
The Genesis of E-E-A-T
Google has been on a mission since 2005 to ensure people find the most relevant websites through their online searches.
They started this by creating the Search Quality Rater Guidelines to evaluate the quality of a website.
Google gives these instructions to human evaluators, called search quality raters, to evaluate the quality of web pages and search results.
In 2014, Google updated these guidelines with the E-A-T principle. In late 2022, they recently added Experience as an additional component to the guideline, making the acronym E-E-A-T.
Core Components of E-E-A-T
The core components of Google’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) are designed to assess the quality and reliability of online content.
Together, these factors guide Google’s Search Quality Raters and algorithms when evaluating websites.
High scores in these areas can lead to better search rankings, as they indicate a site provides valuable, trustworthy information.

Experience

Experience is a recent addition to this. This new variable stresses the significance of having first-hand knowledge of the subject matter.
It is also intended to elevate the quality and reliability of online information.

Expertise

Expertise refers to the knowledge and skills that a website demonstrates in a particular subject area.
You can spot expertise through the content on a website, the qualifications or credentials of the people writing them, and the references they use.
For instance, if a website offers medical advice, it should show that it knows the ins and outs of the medical field.

Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness is a big part of E-E-A-T, and it refers to the reputation of a website, authors, or the content itself.
Authoritativeness can be shown through awards, industry recognition, and citations from trusted sources.
Another way to show trustworthiness is through user reviews and ratings, like those from TrustPilot or Google Business Profile.

Trustworthiness

Trustworthiness in the E-E-A-T framework is all about how much users can rely on the accuracy, honesty, safety, and reliability of the information on a website.
To build trust, a website should be transparent, use honest language, and avoid conflicts of interest. It should also use trustworthy sources and provide accurate and unbiased information.
The Impact of E-E-A-T on SEO
Mastering E-E-A-T goes hand-in-hand with mastering SEO.
Google’s emphasis on high-quality content highlights the importance of incorporating the E-E-A-T elements into SEO strategies for better visibility and credibility.
High E-E-A-T levels improve a site’s chance of ranking well in search results, as Google prioritizes credible and valuable content for its users.
However, using only Search Quality Ratings to decide search rankings isn’t enough.
That’s because they don’t cover all the factors that show if a site is good, like checking for spam or whether a site is safe. It’s too complex a job to rely on just one method.
E-E-A-T as a Ranking Factor: Fact or Myth?
There is some debate among SEO experts about the extent to which E-E-A-T is a ranking factor.
While Google does not explicitly label E-E-A-T as a direct ranking factor, it influences rankings through its integration into Google’s algorithms.
Google’s algorithm considers hundreds of signals for ranking, including technical aspects, user interaction, location, and content freshness.
Websites with high levels of E-E-A-T tend to perform better in search results than those with lower levels of E-E-A-T.
In simpler terms, E-E-A-T is just one factor in website ranking, not the sole basis.

Tracing the Evolution of E-E-A-T

The significance of E-E-A-T in SEO has increased over time due to Google’s ongoing algorithm updates.
This evolution is highlighted in Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, which outline key changes in E-E-A-T’s historical perspective.
Alongside Google’s previous guidelines, site owners need to balance E-E-A-T with AI-generated content to achieve better results.
E-E-A-T: A Historical Perspective
Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines introduced the E-A-T principle in 2014 and has since evolved alongside search algorithms. Here’s a brief timeline:
  • 2000: Introduction of the Google Toolbar.
  • 2002-2003: Period of monthly updates, which later became known as “Google Dance.”
  • 2005: Launch of personalized search, “Big Daddy” update for technical SEO improvements.
  • 2010: “Caffeine” update, improving Google’s indexing speed, and the introduction of Google Instant.
  • 2011: The “Panda” update was released to lower low-quality sites’ rankings.
  • 2012: “Penguin” update targeting spammy links, plus the “Pirate” update to penalize sites with copyright infringement issues.
  • 2013: “Hummingbird” update to better focus on the meaning behind words, introduction of Google’s Knowledge Graph.
  • 2014 onwards: E-A-T, introduced in 2014, was mentioned in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Google’s updates from 2014 onwards improved mobile usability, content quality, secure sites, and the machine learning RankBrain Algorithm.
  • 2018: “Medic” update impacting health and wellness sites significantly.
  • 2019 onwards: Google introduced BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) to better understand natural language in search queries, with an increased emphasis on E-A-T.
  • Late 2022: Recognizing the value of firsthand knowledge, Google added “Experience” to the mix. Now, content creators with real-world experience are seen as even more valuable.
NOTE: You may check Google Search Central Blog for a more comprehensive timeline.
Key Shifts in Google's Quality Rater Guidelines
In 2018, Google updated its guidelines for quality raters.
One key update emphasized E-A-T for websites under the “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) category. YMYL websites provide information related to health, finances, and safety.
This update was in response to the Google Medic Update.
Nowadays, SEO specialists need to constantly stay on top of Google algorithm updates in order to rank high and provide more valuable content to their users.
The Interplay between E-E-A-T and AI-Generated Content
Google considers experience a key factor in distinguishing between content created by humans and AI-generated content.
The new “E” in E-A-T stands for “experience,” which makes it difficult for AI to meet the quality threshold for content that requires experience.
Google still values human experience over AI-generated content.
Genuine uniqueness and nuanced understanding are essential to establish trustworthiness.
While AI-generated content is not against Google’s guidelines, humans must review and edit it to ensure it meets E-E-A-T standards.

Deciphering the Role of E-E-A-T in SEO

E-E-A-T significantly influences SEO. It impacts how Google evaluates websites, especially those covering critical topics like health and finance.
High E-E-A-T ratings signal to Google that a website is trustworthy and its content is more likely to rank higher.
Here’s how the concept applies to different industries, what SEO research says about it, and how beneficial Google’s algorithm updates are.
The Relevance of E-E-A-T Across Different Industries
E-E-A-T matters for everyone, but it’s extra important for websites dealing with critical topics like health, finance, and law (YMYL).
Accurate information is crucial for these websites, so Google holds them to a higher standard.
Here are some YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) industries:
  • Finance: Information that impacts financial decisions, like banking, taxes, investing, or retirement planning.
  • Health: Content related to medical advice, treatments, medications, or anything affecting a user’s well-being.
  • Legal: Information on legal issues, your rights, or navigating legal processes.
  • Safety: Content on how to stay safe in different situations or avoid hazards.
  • News: Information on events that could significantly impact people’s lives.
SEO Research on E-E-A-T
While Google doesn’t release its exact ranking factors, SEO professionals analyze search results and algorithm updates to understand how Google prioritizes content.
Studies by some SEO experts and marketing professionals suggest a strong correlation between high-ranking websites and demonstrably strong E-E-A-T signals.
Here are some research and case studies you can check:
  • Enhancing E-A-T and SEO with Real Case Studies and Digital PR
  • Examine SEO Case Study: 7 Lessons to 1 Million Monthly Visits
  • Thoughts on E-E-A-T and SEO after 7 years of intensive study
The Beneficial Content Update and its Link to E-E-A-T
Google’s “2022 helpful content update” is part of an ongoing effort to prioritize content created and experienced by real people in search results.
This update aligns perfectly with the principles of E-E-A-T, as high-quality, helpful content naturally reflects expertise, trustworthiness, and focus on user needs.
To create content that’s concordant with this new update, websites should focus on making content for people first, not just for Google. This means sharing expertise and useful insights clearly.
Sites with a lot of unhelpful content (low E-A-T) may see their rankings drop, while informative, user-focused content (high E-A-T) will likely perform better.

YMYL and Its Connection to E-E-A-T

E-E-A-T is a big deal in SEO, especially for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics or niches. Google looks for this to decide which websites should be at the top of search results.
So, if you have a website specializing in these topics, you must ensure your information is solid and comes from a place of real knowledge and experience.
Defining YMYL
As mentioned earlier, YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life.”
YMYL websites provide information that could significantly impact a user’s health, finances, or safety.
Examples of YMYL websites include those that provide medical, financial, and legal advice.
Due to the sensitive nature of the content, Google holds YMYL websites to a higher standard of E-E-A-T.
YMYL Topics: A Matter of Experience or Expertise?
It’s actually a matter of both.
YMYL topics require a combination of experience and expertise.
While formal qualifications are essential for certain topics (e.g., a doctor writing about medical advice), personal experience can add depth and credibility.
For example, a website that provides medical advice needs authors who are experienced in the medical field and have the expertise to provide accurate and reliable information.
The same goes for finance. The writer could be a certified financial advisor, but their experience in the financial world will add depth and make their content more trustworthy.
Crucial Considerations for YMYL Website Owners
For YMYL website owners focusing on content quality and reliability, consider these crucial aspects:
  1. Showcase Expertise: Ensure content reflects deep knowledge in your field.
  2. Author Credentials: Authors must have relevant skills and experience.
  3. Use Reputable Sources: Support your content with credible information.
  4. Be Transparent: Share details about authors’ expertise openly.
  5. Keep Content Current: Update information to stay accurate and relevant.
  6. Focus on Users: Make content useful and engaging for readers, not just for SEO.
  7. Evaluate Your Content: Regularly check if your content aligns with quality guidelines.
  8. Get External Opinions: Seek feedback from impartial parties to assess content value.
  9. Monitor Performance: Review which content performs well and why.
  10. Focus on People-First Content: Don’t just aim for search rankings; add real value for readers.

E-E-A-T Levels as per Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines

Search engines aim to provide diversified, high-quality search results in the most helpful order to assist users in finding what they need.
To accomplish this, Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines describe E-E-A-T as having four distinct levels: Lowest, Deficiency, High, and Exceptional.
This classification shows that assessing a website’s E-E-A-T is not just about being on top of SERPs but also about compliance in terms of quality.
Lowest E-E-A-T
The lowest E-E-A-T in Google’s eyes means a website holds little to no value, is full of misleading information, and is basically untrustworthy.
Some types of lowest quality pages include:
  • Harmful to Self or Other Individuals: Pages that promote harm to people — physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially.
  • Harmful to Specified Groups: Pages that incite violence or hatred against specific groups or races.
  • Harmfully Misleading Information: Pages spreading false information that could be harmful.
  • Untrustworthy Webpages: Pages known for deception or unreliability.
  • Spam Web Pages: Pages exhibiting webspam characteristics.
E-E-A-T Deficiency
Websites lacking experience, expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness are considered to have E-E-A-T deficiencies and are often referred to as low-quality pages.
Despite having some accurate information, these websites are unreliable sources of information.
To identify low-quality pages, start by assessing the following:
  • Lacking E-E-A-T
  • Low-Quality Main Content (MC)
  • Distracting Ads or Supplementary Content
  • Mildly Negative Reputation of the Website or Content Creator
  • Unsatisfying Amount of Information about the Website or Content Creator
High E-E-A-T
These websites earn their reputation by having well-researched content from credible sources and are presented by qualified authors.
Pages with high E-E-A-T provide valuable information to users, demonstrate expertise, and establish credibility.
Review the following criteria to determine if the page meets the “High” standards:
  • High Page Quality Assessment: The MC is created with adequate effort, originality, talent, or skill so that the page achieves its purpose.
  • Reputation of the Website and Content Creator: The website has a positive reputation for the page’s topic. This positive reputation could also be of the content creator for the topic of the MC.
  • Trustworthiness of the Page: A high level of E-E-A-T is needed for the purpose of the page.
Exceptional E-E-A-T
Exceptional E-E-A-T websites stand out as industry leaders by delivering content with the highest standards of experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
They are characterized by:
  • Very Positive Reputation: These sites are viewed as top authorities in their fields, producing content that becomes the benchmark across the industry.
  • Highest Quality Main Content: The content demonstrates extraordinary effort, originality, talent, or skill. It should be deeply satisfying for visitors, accurate, well-communicated, and aligned with expert consensus where applicable.
  • Very High Level of E-E-A-T: Very High E-E-A-T means being a uniquely trusted and authoritative source on a topic. This exceptional level is earned by websites or creators with deep expertise, experience, and a proven track record of reliable content.

Boosting Your Website's E-E-A-T

You need to optimize for more website visits to boost your website’s E-E-A-T and rank higher on search engine results pages.
This section will discuss a few concise and effective strategies to improve your website’s E-E-A-T.
Crafting Superior Quality Content
To boost your website’s E-E-A-T rating, it is crucial to craft superior quality content. This means creating unique and specific content that is not mass-produced, outsourced, or AI-generated.
Your content should be written primarily for user experience and not just for search engine rankings.
To create compelling content, approach it from different angles and ensure it is informative, helpful, and engaging.
Writing In-depth and well-researched content that cites authoritative sources is key to improving E-E-A-T.
Lastly, ensure your content is well-written and grammatically correct.
Showcasing Author Credentials and Transparency
To showcase author credentials and transparency, it is important to highlight author bios, qualifications, and experience, and provide author headshots and contact information.
Additionally, it’s crucial to be transparent about the website’s ownership and editorial process to build user trust.
Utilizing outbound links to reference high-quality, high-authority sources like government websites or academic reports is also beneficial.
Credentials and transparency demonstrate expertise and authoritativeness.
Citing Trustworthy Sources
To boost your website’s E-E-A-T through citations, focus on referencing credible and reputable sources to support your claims and data.
This means linking to well-regarded websites, such as those ending in .gov, .edu, or highly respected news outlets and professional associations.
Doing so not only improves the credibility of your content but also demonstrates thorough research and a commitment to accuracy.
It is important to always include relevant and authoritative citations in your work. This allows your readers to further explore the references and gain a deeper understanding of the topic.
Cultivating a Positive Brand Image
To enhance your website’s E-E-A-T, you can build a positive brand image.
When doing so, focus on defining your brand’s unique aspects like vision, mission, and values, and communicate these consistently across all interactions.
Promoting your brand through guest blogging and other marketing efforts helps.
Utilize customer reviews and social media engagement to prove your brand’s reliability and quality.
It’s important to also recognize that real user experiences often carry more weight than brand claims.
Therefore, positive reviews should also be encouraged, and any negative feedback should be addressed promptly and professionally.
Harnessing User-Generated Content
To boost your website’s E-E-A-T through user-generated content (UGC), encourage and strategically leverage content like reviews, comments, and success stories from users.
This shows real-world trust and authority.
It’s also important to actively engage with your audience on social media to foster two-way conversations and leverage UGC, which can help enhance your brand’s presence and credibility.
However, it’s crucial to moderate UGC to ensure it aligns with E-E-A-T standards.
Offering incentives for content creation can be an effective way to encourage UGC, but it’s important to maintain authenticity and transparency.
Building High-Authority Backlinks
The first step to link building for SEO involves acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own.
These backlinks serve as signals to search engines — indicating your website’s credibility, authority, and relevance.
Here’s how to do this:
  • Secure backlinks from reputable sites in your niche.
  • Prioritize quality over quantity; a few quality links will trump many low-quality ones.
  • Create link-worthy content to attract natural links.
  • Use internal links to connect related content, showcasing expertise and depth of knowledge.
  • Ensure your anchor texts accurately describe linked content to maintain relevance and credibility.

The Pitfalls of Counterfeit E-E-A-T

Closely abiding by E-E-A-T as a quality standard will lead to top-ranking articles on the SERP.
However, some websites attempt to superficially mimic these qualities without truly possessing them.
Assessing E-E-A-T in Content
When assessing E-E-A-T in content, it’s crucial to address and rectify any elements that may undermine the expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness of your website.
Here are key considerations to ensure your content genuinely reflects E-E-A-T:
  • Ensure Expertise: Content should be made by experts or those with real experience.
  • Pick Relevant Guest Blogs: Only post guest blogs on sites that match your expertise. Irrelevant sites can hurt your reputation.
  • Earn Organic Backlinks: Get backlinks through quality content, not buying them. Bought links can damage your site’s trust.
  • Use Keywords Wisely: Don’t overuse keywords. Content should read naturally; otherwise, it will look like you’re trying to game the system.
Striving for Technical Excellence
Striving for technical excellence involves ensuring that your website not only has high-quality content but also excels in technical aspects.
Here’s how to ensure technical excellence:
  • Maintain a mobile-friendly website with fast loading speeds.
  • Ensure proper website structure and navigation.
  • Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to make content easily scannable.
  • Implement a secure connection (HTTPS) for user data protection.
  • Regularly update your website and plugins to address security vulnerabilities.
Curating Content for Relevance and Quality
Content curation means finding and sharing high-quality content relevant to your audience.
It’s all about ensuring that what you present online aligns with the interests and needs of your followers.
Here’s how to avoid irrelevant content:
  • Don’t Create Content Outside Your Expertise: Sticking to what you know helps maintain a strong E-E-A-T profile.
  • Conduct Keyword Research to Understand User Intent: Focus on creating content that addresses user needs and search queries directly.
  • Avoid Thin Content: Content should be in-depth and provide real value to the reader. Take time to research your topic.
Showcasing Expertise, Authority, and Trust
Authenticity is key; always ensure that any claims you make are backed by real knowledge and verifiable credentials.
Website owners should showcase their expertise, authority, and trust through content, author credentials, and brand image.
Building expertise, authority, and trust takes time and consistent effort, but here are a few key things to keep in mind:
  • Make sure any claims of being an expert or authority are true and can be checked.
  • Show off your writers’ real skills, knowledge, and credentials.
  • Remember, gaining trust and authority isn’t quick; it requires ongoing, honest work.
  • Avoid pretending to have qualifications you don’t have, making up facts, or using shady marketing.
  • Focus on earning trust by being open, honest, and providing real value.

Employing Structured Data to Bolster E-E-A-T

While creating high-quality content and building a strong reputation is crucial for E-E-A-T, structured data can act as a valuable booster.
Structured data helps search engines understand your content better, which can indirectly contribute to a perception of expertise and authority.
Using Structured Data for E-E-A-T Enhancement
To boost a website’s E-E-A-T, utilize structured data tools like JavaScript, Google Tag Manager, and SEO plugins to dynamically add relevant Schema.
Focus on marking up content that highlights the expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness of authors, and the brand’s reputation.
Properly structured and nested Schema helps search engines understand the credibility of your website and the relationships between different entities on it.
This includes differentiating roles within a nested structure to avoid redundancy and clarify the content’s context.
Beneficial Schema Types for E-E-A-T Improvement
Employing schema markup best practices is a surefire way to enhance your website’s E-E-A-T to search engines.
Here are beneficial Schema types for E-E-A-T improvement:
  1. Person Schema: Use this to detail the credentials and backgrounds of content creators or experts on your site, emphasizing their expertise and authority.
  2. Organization Schema: These Schema detail your organization’s background, mission, and contact information.
  3. Author Property: Mark up the content author, whether a Person or an Organization, to attribute proper authorship and enhance credibility.
  4. ReviewedBy Property: If your content is reviewed by experts, showcasing their review can bolster your site’s trustworthiness.
  5. Citations Property: Demonstrating that your content references authoritative sources can support your E-E-A-T by showing you base your information on trustworthy materials.

Monitoring and Evaluating E-E-A-T

To effectively track your website’s E-E-A-T performance, focus on setting key metrics for assessment and utilizing tools for in-depth analysis.
Key Metrics for E-E-A-T Assessment
Website owners should track their sites’ performance through metrics to measure the impact of their E-E-A-T efforts.
Although directly measuring E-E-A-T may be challenging, certain metrics can provide insights into a website’s perceived authority and trustworthiness.
These include:
  • Organic traffic: A consistent uptick in organic traffic can indicate that Google recognizes your website as a valuable resource.
  • Click-through rates (CTRs): Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who see your ad or link and actually click on it.
  • Brand mentions and backlinks: The number and quality of mentions and backlinks from reputable sources reflect your website’s authority.
  • User engagement metrics: High time spent on the site, low bounce rates, and positive user reviews suggest that users find your content valuable and trustworthy.
Using Tools to Track E-E-A-T Performance
To monitor your website’s E-E-A-T performance, utilize tools like Google Analytics and Search Console.
They offer insights into search rankings, traffic, and user engagement. Additional SEO tools can assess overall site health, including backlinks, keywords, brand mentions, etc.
However, remember that there are no tools dedicated solely to measuring E-E-A-T.
Instead, understanding Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines can provide a valuable framework for improving these aspects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Discover more about Google E-E-A-T with these quick questions.
Common E-E-A-T mistakes include:
  • Providing inaccurate or incomplete information
  • Lacking author credentials
  • Failing to cite trustworthy sources
  • Not having an authentic experience
  • Having a poor website reputation
E-E-A-T is particularly crucial for “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) topics, which include health, finance, legal, and safety information.
These areas demand high levels of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness due to their impact on users’ well-being or financial stability.
However, E-E-A-T remains relevant across all industries and niches.
There are no specific tools designed exclusively for assessing a website’s E-E-A-T level.
However, tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, and various SEO platforms can provide insights into factors indirectly related to E-E-A-T, such as organic traffic, backlinks, and user engagement.
While it isn’t a direct ranking factor, E-E-A-T significantly helps increase search engine visibility.
High E-E-A-T levels suggest to Google that a site offers valuable, credible content, likely improving its visibility in search results.
AI’s role in E-E-A-T involves challenging its ability to replicate human-like experiences and nuanced understanding. Google values genuine human experience and expertise over AI-generated content. However, it doesn’t rule out AI content entirely, provided humans review and edit it to meet E-E-A-T standards.

Conclusion

The E-E-A-T principle is a critical component of Google’s search algorithm. It’s all about making sure the best and most trustworthy information gets to users when they search for it.
For those who make websites, Google E-E-A-T emphasizes the need to provide high-quality content that demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Despite AI’s rising popularity, nothing beats real people sharing their experience and knowledge to create people-first content.