Expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT). Those should really be the keywords for anyone’s content production, but they are also factors that Google uses to assess the quality of a web page and what it should rank for in search results. This is particularly the case for pages that deal with transactions or high-stakes advice.
EAT and page quality have always been important but recent algorithm changes, with more still to come, reflect Google’s insistence that EAT is “one of the most important criteria of page quality.”
Google’s algorithm is still programmed and updated by humans, of course, but as it continues to develop AI and machine learning to assess page quality, content producers need to be ever-more concerned with getting EAT right.
What the Google algorithm focuses on for “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages:
This is a great one for copywriters (hi!) because expertise to Google means a history of quality published content on a subject area – for example, non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
This argues the case for hiring experts to write your content, because Google can tell. Bylines, author profiles, LinkedIn credentials and portfolios should be easily found for anyone writing your content, and reflect their expertise in your particular area.
Yes, writers can write anything. But content that concerns Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) topics (like finance or medicine) demands an expert to safeguard the reader’s “future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”
If online content contains inaccuracies or advice that’s potentially harmful, it’s going to rank poorly. If that content is about something crucial like law, finance or medicine, it’ll rank even worse.
“Happiness, health, or wealth”. If your business’s content affects any of these in your reader’s life, EAT applies double for your website.
By authority, we’re referring to the credentials of an author, but also of the business, to speak expertly on a particular subject. Factors like qualifications, previously written content and online connections and audiences all contribute towards the perceived authority of your website.
What gives your business the right to be publishing content on this subject? Do you have lots of other pieces of content and related services, proving that you’re an authority on the topic?
There are also technical elements that influence authority; things like the age of your website, how visitors have previously engaged with your content and links it has received from other websites with authority.
Just like with authority, trustworthiness applies to the author, the content and the website.
“News articles, Wikipedia articles, blog posts, magazine articles, forum discussions, and ratings from independent organizations can all be sources of reputation information. Look for independent, credible sources of information.”
To me, this means brand reputation. How much information is there about your business online and is it all looking shiny? Positive customer reviews and other high-authority sites talking about you = trustworthiness.
From Google’s search quality rating guidelines:
“A website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users, as well as the opinion of people who are experts in the topic of the website. When the website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources.”
Quality design and build is also a biggie here, along with general upkeep of a web page. If content is years out of date, that’s not going to score high for trustworthiness. If your site has perfect content, written by experts – but it looks like it was built in 2002… then it’s not going to score high for trustworthiness.
Another quote from Google’s guidelines:
“Amateurish website design is less acceptable for YMYL websites, such as legal, financial, and medical websites or shopping websites that ask for your credit card information.”
How do you know if your site is YMYL?
- Do you exist to provide news about business, finance, politics or other important subjects?
- Do you collect personally identifying data (bank account numbers, driving licence numbers, National Insurance number)?
- Do you collect payments of any kind?
- Do you offer medical, health or safety advice?
- Do you offer advice on major life issues, like buying a home, parenting or education?
- Do you give legal or financial advice?
Read the Google search quality rating guidelines for yourself
This is a basic summary of how Google judges quality in YMYL sites, but if you think you have one of those, it’s worth reading the rules in full. This guide is what Google’s human quality evaluators use to score YOUR website.
Make sure they find plenty of expertise, authority and trustworthiness.