Google’s Updated Guidelines: E-A-T and a Serving of Experience

EEAT Google guidelines

Google’s ever-evolving ranking algorithm means that SEO professionals are always searching for the latest optimizations for their websites and the content that lives on them. With the goal of outranking the competitors, they tweak their approach with every new update, hoping to find an edge that helps them rank higher. 

When it comes to written content, however, Google tells brands exactly how to rank well: adhere to its search quality guidelines. They emphasize expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in content. Referred to as E-A-T for short, these suggestions represent critical aspects of Google’s ranking algorithm, and content that adheres to them receives favor in the form of higher placement on search results. But how Google evaluates sites has evolved yet again. In December 2022, the company updated its E-A-T guidelines with an additional word, emphasizing experience. Content creators must now consider an element of expertise when producing or writing certain

What Is E-E-A-T?

If you’re in the content or marketing industry, you’re probably already familiar with E-A-T. Google created E-A-T to provide guidance to those who author and produce content. For the last few years, these recommendations have remained fairly stable. But with the addition of experience, Google has made a significant change.

For Google, the addition of experience is all about giving more weight to content created by authors with hands-on experience. The reasoning is that, when people are searching the web for information or advice, they likely want to hear from someone that’s “been there, done that.” 

As Elizabeth Tucker says on the Google Search Blog, “There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.” 

How Is E-E-A-T Different From the Old E-A-T?

Before the addition of the experience factor, sites were evaluated and ranked according to the authority and expertise of the authors that produced the site’s content. In turn, these factors were measured on the basis of quality, depth, accuracy and reliability. Google also considered the trustworthiness of the site the content is published on. 

This all still carries the same weight it did before. A website’s trustworthiness and the authority and expertise of the author still matter. But now Google will give bonus points to content that’s written by those with hands-on experience. 

A travel blog written by a traveler was the example given earlier. Other examples could be a nurse who writes about nursing or a product reviewer who has actually used the product they’re reviewing. In these examples, you can see why Google wants to give first-hand experiences more weight and higher rankings in its search engine. 

Is E-E-A-T a New Ranking Factor?

There are a lot of unknowns about how Google generates search results, so this isn’t an easy question. The search giant’s algorithm is an infamous black box, and the ranking factors it uses are a mystery to all but a privileged few — which means it’s impossible to know what the exact ranking factors are and when they were added. While there isn’t an E-E-A-T score in Google’s algorithm — at least as far as anyone knows — the guidelines are representative of how the company’s algorithm ranks websites. 

You can think of E-E-A-T as a set of instructions that’s been translated from an algorithm into English. Even though some details are lost in translation, the overall message is plain and simple: High rankings in search require great content that’s written by experts with first-hand experience and published on trustworthy websites. 

How Google’s Algorithm Evaluates E-E-A-T

Google’s algorithm evaluates sites by weighing a combination of signals from the site itself as well as the content. While Google doesn’t share specifics on its ranking algorithm, it’s very clear about the quality it expects to rank highly.

In terms of experience, Google evaluates an author according to their reputation, credentials and ability to provide unique insights and perspectives on the topic they’re writing about.

Meanwhile, the rest of the E-A-T guidelines remain the same:

  • Expertise. Google evaluates the author’s expertise in the field they’re writing about, including their qualifications, experience and skills. This can be determined by analyzing the author’s bio, credentials and other relevant information.
  • Authority. The authoritativeness of a website or page is determined by its reputation, popularity and the quality of its content. Google considers factors such as the number of links pointing to the website, the quality of those links and the relevance of the content to the search query.
  • Trustworthiness. The trustworthiness of a website is evaluated by considering factors such as its history, privacy policy and contact information. Google also looks at the website’s engagement metrics, such as the number of comments and shares, to gauge its level of trust.

It’s important to note that Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines are made specifically for content, not any other factors, such as design or user experience.

Adjusting Content Strategies to Accommodate E-E-A-T

For content creators, marketers and SEO professionals, keeping up with evolving search requirements can seem like a lot of work. But Google makes the changes it does for very good reasons. It’s in the company’s best interest to provide relevant, high-quality content to the people searching the web. Here are three ways you can start doing this:

  • Focus on quality. Focusing on creating the best content possible helps rankings considerably. Writing for a search query is useful on occasion, but if it’s at the expense of providing value to the user, it’s not helping your strategy. 
  • Engage your audience. Engagement from users keeps them returning and signals to Google that people value a site. Content should be authoritative and informational, but it should leave room for a conversation. 
  • Share credentials. Sharing an author’s credentials with content written by them tells Google that the content is informed by those with expertise and hands-on experience. Adding links to the author’s personal site and LinkedIn account reinforces this statement.

Meanwhile, brands that operate in specialized industries such as finance, technology, law and health will benefit immensely from subject matter experts with first-hand experience.

Add the Edge of Experience to Your Content Strategy

If you’re looking for a competitive edge that pushes your site to new highs in search rankings, you’ve found it. Crowd Content helps leading brands engage with their audience and expand their reach through high-quality content authored by the best freelance writers in the industry. The Crowd Content Marketplace offers easy access to talented copywriters and subject matter experts from every industry that can help you craft content of every kind. For more robust solutions, Crowd Content’s Managed Services help brands that need content at scale without sacrificing a word’s worth of quality. Whether you need a single white paper or thousands of pages worth of website copy, Crowd Content is ready to deliver.

Keshav Sharma

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