E-A-T: A Big Ranking Factor or a False SEO Trend?

You might have heard the buzzword E-A-T floating around in SEO.


I am pretty sure you must be wondering what’s the purpose of this trend and how it’s useful in SEO? 


Well, you are not alone in this. 


Because the fact is, it has appeared out of nowhere and has now become the hottest topic in past three years.


Guess what’s the funny thing?


Nobody knows a single thing about the trend and even hardly know the meaning of this acronym EAT.


I remember when I first heard about the term, I Googled it to discover its importance in SEO.


Unfortunately, I got a bit more confused. Because when you try Googling the word EAT in SEO, you may come up with two results.


‘EAT is not important for ranking’ 


And also, ‘EAT is an important ranking factor in Google’


So, following this confusion, I further performed in-depth research because I really wanted to know why marketers are so obsessed with this trend, and why I should consider it too.


Let’s shed some light on this hottest topic and see whether it’s responsible for increased ranking or just a false trend?


What is E-A-T?


EAT stands for expertise, authority, trustworthiness.


Google follows this criterion for ranking, as it’s an indication of the quality of your pages.


Other criteria are also important for ranking, but this is the most innovative trend evolved and must be considered by every SEO professional.


E-A-T is especially important for content, now this content must be powerful enough and effective to impact the audience’s future, their health, safety, and financial stability.


Google described these pages as “Your Money or Your Life”, or YMYL pages.


Where does the concept come from?


For those who wonder where does EAT comes from, this guide is quite helpful.


E-A-T is basically originated from Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG). This is a predefined set of guidelines provided by Google for Search Quality Raters. They tend to evaluate all the search results after rating page quality in searches. 


Quality raters never impact rankings directly. Instead, the search engine uses the information delivered by raters so they can improve the algorithm to drive more improved search results for people looking for something specific. 


Now the QRG never tells how Google’s algorithm does its job, but it does reveal where it wants its algorithm to move next. 


That’s the reason, it has become an important topic of concern in the Google Quality Raters’ Guidelines. It tells all the quality raters to analyze the page’s E-A-T score so they can determine its overall quality.


Evaluating ‘expertise’ in EAT


When you evaluate its ‘expertise’ element, you discover a lot of surprising things.


The content must be created by a professional person or a company with great expertise, education, or have other qualifications related to that topic. 


An important thing is, not every content type needs some great formal expertise, especially when it comes to non-YMYL pages, life experience is enough. 


For example, someone asked a question in Quora, ‘What does it feel like to be diagnosed with Covid19?’


Though it’s a medical and random life question, it’s not asking for medical advice, and just information about the person’s emotions, for which you don’t need any formal expertise to answer.


Expertise could specifically be established by the author who is creating that content in Quora- which can be measured through his credentials like bio, total articles written on a similar topic, or articles created for other websites.


You can also analyze expertise through the website. For example, a restaurant better knows about creating content for their home and services pages, and an IT company must know about the security procedures they provide- which means they are the only expert on these areas so they could write the content better than other professionals.


Evaluating ‘authority’ in EAT


In order to have authority in your piece of content, the expertise of your author could be specifically recognized by other people belonging to the same area and especially by the audience.


That’s the reason, in order to evaluate the authority, raters need to look something beyond the site where that content could be found.


Now the big advice we usually get for evaluating authority is to find out the author name or the company who created this, while we exclude all the important sources highlighted by the company or an author. 


We might look for positive signals such as awards, appreciations, reviews, and ratings by other organizations. For example, Wikipedia is cited as the best source of information by the author.


Evaluating ‘trustworthiness’ in EAT


Trustworthiness is mainly considered as a multifaceted concept by the professionals which specifically involves great factual accuracy of all the information and transparency about the company running that website. It also includes the overall reputation and reliability of content creators.


In order to evaluate the trustworthiness factor, it has been instructed to check out the original website and find out some basic details like the company has mentioned the description, they have privacy policy pages, terms and conditions, contact details and multiple other formalities.


Now it is also essential to analyze whether this content is trustworthy, all the facts are reliable, and YMYL claims are well analyzed by the references, and also if the content is aligned with the scientific consensus. 


For example, if the website has only the home, contact, and images section, this means they are working against the scientific consensus and may get the lowest trustworthiness by Google.


How EAT is important for the quality of your pages?


I think it’s important to include this part so you can easily get the idea about why E-A-T is a central factor and has become a major criterion for ranking in Google.


EAT is just one of the important factors when it comes to assessing the quality of your pages. Professionals start analyzing after establishing the main objective of the page when they tend to identify whether the website can be trusted. 


After that, they assess the quality of the content and then evaluate whether the website offers an enhanced user experience.


Does EAT really matter in SEO?


Yes and no. 


The overall concept and idea behind E-A-T include multiple important elements that indeed make significant improvements in the quality of your website as perceived by raters, but there has not been highlighted anywhere that E-A-T could ever be measured algorithmically or responsible for ranking in Google.


In fact, search engines themselves cleared that Google doesn’t count EAT as a ranking factor directly.


So, should you optimize your site to EAT?


Well, it clearly depends upon your business objectives.


If you want to boost the rankings of your webpages, then definitely optimizing for E-A-T is not necessary and never help you in the long run. 


From all the elements search engines have discussed about EAT, there is no evidence that EAT is directly involved in ranking your webpages because there are no absolute methods to determine E-A-T algorithmically. 


So, whatever optimization you plan for your website, search engines are unlikely to “view” it.


However, if you want to improve the quality of your pages, then EAT is directly related.


According to Quality Rater Guidelines, EAT offers a lot of valuable advice, that are directly linked to improving the quality of your page. 


It has never been registered by the algorithm yet, but it might play a vital role in enhanced user experience as well as streamline all the important business processes. 


Some important elements included in EAT efficiently increase your content value and may contribute to the rankings indirectly. So, do not rely only on your SEO strategy, if page ranking is your only imperative concern. 


Hence, you can consider other related elements that could ultimately improve the ranking within a short time.


Final thoughts


Even though the opinions and thoughts about E-A-T signify that it’s an important ranking factor is quite controversial, but it still looks like a hot topic among SEO professionals. 


But it doesn’t mean that EAT is a false trend or has the least importance in SEO. Most advice and suggestions about EAT optimization are quite healthy and beneficial for website owners. 


Still, I think most SEO professionals and business owners tend to follow some proven SEO tactics as compared to following this ‘maybe’ technique that doesn’t bring any guaranteed success.


In the end, I must say that the one significant SEO concern that is directly related to E-A-T is its page authority driven by certain quality backlinks.


So, in short, you cannot ignore the importance of EAT in SEO, but it is an essential part of the overall strategy that may impact rankings, page quality, and other SEO factors. However, the good news is, if you are following all the strategies and techniques in EAT correctly, you can exponentially grow your brand and maintain a positive impression. After that, it’s almost impossible to knockdown by the search engines ever

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