How much do you trust the information on the internet?
Not so much, I guess.
Since the internet made it so easy for people to publish information, it seems like everyone is doing it, whether or not they’re a credible source of information.
It’s been a growing concern not just for the online community but for Google as well.
It was just a matter of time before they had to figure out something, and at long last, they have.
Not long ago, they released their 175-page Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG), a document explaining the key model they use to determine if a piece of content is low quality or high quality.
In the document, Google appears to put a lot of emphasis on a foundational concept called Beneficial Purpose. It turns out, this is one of the aspects they use to rank websites.
It also sets the stage for two important principles, E-A-T and YMYL.
E-AT is an acronym for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life.
What’s Beneficial Purpose?
Beneficial Purpose is the term used to refer to all the websites or web pages that should help the user.
For them to consider any page as high-quality, then the page must fulfil the user’s intent. It must be user-centred, serving as a helpful and trustworthy resource to the user.
According to Google, the purpose of a beneficial page can Include (but not limited to):
- Sharing credible information about a topic
- Sharing personal or social information
- Sharing pictures, videos, and other forms of media
- Expressions of one’s opinion or point of view
- Sell a product or services
- Have a section where users can post questions and have other users answer them
- Allow users to share files and download software solutions
Google places the user at the centre of everything they do, and they expect website owners to do the same.
YMYL = Your Money or Your Life
YMYL is a term used to refer to any website whose information can impact the health or wellbeing of a user.
In their Quality Rater guidelines, Google mentions that they have high Page Quality (PQ) standards for YMYL pages.
And that’s because holding a YMYL page to a lower PQ standard could potentially hurt the user’s health, safety, happiness, and financial stability.
What Websites Does Google Consider YMYL?
Any webpage that offers educational, medical, and financial service falls under YMYL.
Here’s a list of websites that Google considers YMYL?
- Financial or shopping webpages – any webpage where users are allowed to carry out any form of financial transaction, whether it’s to purchase an item, transfer cash, or pay a financial balance.
It includes ecommerce stores, banking pages, and utility pages.
- Financial Information Pages – any webpage offering financial advice or information on investments, retirement planning, taxes, education fees, mortgages, insurance etc.
- Medical Pages – any webpage that offers medical advice or information, especially on drugs, nutrition, health, and specific health conditions and ailments.
- Legal Pages – any webpage that gives legal advice or information, such as on divorce, child custody, citizenship, and will writing.
- News Sources – any news publishing site. Or any website that deals with news articles about social events, natural disasters, government programmes, business news, international events, and politics.
Note that not all news articles fall under YMYL, just the ones we’ve mentioned.
- Others – any webpage that contains information on car safety and child adoption.
In other words, any website that deals with sensitive information or one that could potentially harm the reader’s health and overall wellbeing is considered a YMYL.
E-A-T = Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
Google’s Quality Raters use E-A-T to determine a page’s PQ.
Google subjects blogs or pages to a PQ rating to understand their true purpose.
When crawling a webpage, they’ll measure it against E-A-T to determine how good the page or post is with regards to providing the user with the right information.
Let’s try to break each of the three factors in E-A-T
What exactly does each of the three factors stand for?
By expertise, Google hopes to find out more about the content creator. What’s their level of expertise in the field?
Google is doing this because they’re only interested in ranking expert opinions. And by an expert, we mean someone who possesses the necessary knowledge, understanding and experience of the field they’re writing about, whether they’re writing about general knowledge or a highly specialized concept.
From their statement, Google appears to support the idea of everyday expertise.
What’s Everyday Expertise?
Google is well aware of the fact that not all topics require formal training or expertise.
They understand that some people write detailed, helpful reviews of the products they have used or restaurants they have visited.
They share helpful tips and life experiences on blogs and forum. They have no formal training in the field, but they have the requisite experience, which makes them experts on the topics they write about.
Google states explicitly that they value everyday expertise, and they’re not going to penalize anyone for not having a formal education or training in any field.
- Google doesn’t just want you to write. They want you to research every topic you write and link to your sources.
- Look around for websites that have published relevant, comprehensive, and accurate content, and consider linking to them.
- Demonstrate your expertise in YMYL niches by providing helpful, accurate content.
Any attempt to provide inaccurate, unhelpful, and outdated content hampers your SEO success.
Google is doing all this to protects its users from misinformation. They want to win over people’s trust by only ranking credible sources and penalizing anyone who tries to mislead their readers.
The expertise in E-A-T is there to ensure web owners will start hiring people who possess subject matter expertise in what they write or who would at least do the necessary research and fact check their work before submitting it for publication.
Google has been using PageRank to understand websites authoritativeness. It’s not something new to them. In fact, it’s what made them become who they are today.
One signal Google uses to measure authoritativeness is backlinking.
The more connected a site is the more authoritative it is.
Google’s uses links to rank websites. They’re not just concerned about the number of links a site attracts, but the quality of those links.
Links have been compared to a vote of confidence. You have other sites vouching for your website or blog post to rank high. The more vote you get, the more authority you gain.
Expertise is acquired through experience, training, or formal education. However, authoritativeness is what happens when other experts recognize your expertise (whether inside or outside your industry).
There has to be something admirable about what you do for someone to want to be associated with you. At least, that’s how Google views it.
The recognition doesn’t just have to come in form of links. It can also come in the form of mentions, citations, reviews, and shares.
In a way, authoritativeness can be compared to reputation. Work on solidifying your online reputation and you’ll be on your way to becoming an authority figure in your niche.
You have to work hard to win the trust of your target audience and search engines.
You want to get people to trust in your business or brand, make them buy your products and endorse them to their friends and families.
You can inspire trust by highlighting your credentials and those of your content creators.
For example, if your website offers medical offers, it helps to mention that you’re a doctor working in a certain well-known hospital.
For a website, you can mention some of the awards you have won, testimonials, endorsements, and any other trust factor you can come up with.
Remember, Google only wants to rank sites they can trust.
Why is E-A-T and YMYL Important for SEO?
Since they started, Google has been adamant on insisting we create high-quality content.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that Google values quality over anything else.
There’s a strong connection between what Google considers high-quality and what ranks atop their search results.
It’s even possible to rank a post by just studying the posts that rank high. That’s the essence of SEO.
Look at what ranks at the top of search engines, and purpose to come up with something even better (10x better).
We can conclude by saying that E-A-T plays a critical role in how Google ranks websites. Simple logic demands that it features into your overall SEO strategy.
The Medic Update
The internet was thrown into panic mode in 2018 when Google rolled out a core algorithm update, the Medic update.
It would soon be found that this update affected YMYL websites, especially those dealing with health and medical publications.
Health supplement stores with low E-A-T scores were negatively impacted. The update would also go on to impact websites with poor user experience, or sites with display ads that take huge spaces, as well as those whose information was found to be untrue, inaccurate, and harmful to the user.
What E-AT and YMYL Look at?
- Sites using paid link schemes
- Sites with ads or features that distract or interrupt the main content
- The reputation of site owners and content creators
- Negative reviews
- Poorly written “About Us” Page with no credible sources
- Sites citing unreliable sources
- Low-quality pages
- Poor spelling, punctuations, and grammar
Examples of Pages with the Highest Quality Ratings
It bears repeating that Google holds YMYL websites to the highest quality standards.
Google requires these websites to have a high page quality rating to rank them. There are so many signals and ranking elements that Google looks at when rating websites for page quality.
Note that Google uses human search quality raters to determine your page quality.
To understand the reasoning behind their page quality ranking, let’s look at examples of websites with the highest quality ratings:
1# Mayo Clinic
Rochester Minnesota-based clinic is the world’s number #1 hospital in 2021, according to Newsweek.
Here are the qualities that give the website its highest page quality rating:
Type of content: The site offers health advice on a hospital page, written and managed by the hospital’s medical staff.
It’s easy for users to trust the information they read on this blog, considering it’s offered by real medical professionals working for the world’s number one hospital.
Page Title: Rectal Cancer – Symptoms and Causes
PQ Rating: The Highest Page Quality rating
Page Characteristics: Very high E-A-T levels
Mayo has been ranked as the best hospital in the world. This gives them the most prestigious reputation. Just by looking at this, the search quality raters will identify this page as the highest quality, and with all the other ranking factors held constant, consider it for the highest rank position in the SERPs.
If there’s anything Mayo Clinic cannot afford is being associated with inaccurate or misleading information. They have taken so many years to build their reputation, and there’s no way they’re flashing all that down the drain by dishing out misleading pieces of advice.
Example 2#: Handle the Heat
Handle the heat is a well-known recipe blog, with hundreds of homemade cake, chocolate, bread, and cookie recipes.
They have video and article tutorials. The chances are if you’ve ever searched online for a baking recipe, Handle the Heat must have been one of the blogs that showed up in the search results.
Source: How to Measure Floor
What gives this page a high-quality rating?
Page title: How to Measure Floor
The blog has this niche on lock. It’s many users’ go-to blog whenever they’re looking for baking recipes or advice. People trust them, and so does Google.
Page Quality Ranking: Highest
- High E-A-T level for the page
- A significant volume of high-quality blog posts on baking, accompanied by original media.
Google’s quality search raters will simply look at the blog, their Instagram account, and their level of engagement and rate their page quality as high.
Explanation: Handle the Heat writers don’t necessarily have to be qualified or well-known professional chefs. Baking, for what we know, is an everyday practice.
And since baking doesn’t fall under YMYL, the writer doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert in the field.
In this “About Us” you can see the writer is always experimenting with the recipes they give. To back it up, they have a high number of original, high-quality recipe posts inspired by their own cooking.
13 Easy Ways to Increase Your E-A-T Score
So, how do you increase your E-A-T score?
1# Credit Your Authors
If you have not been crediting your authors, then it’s time you started doing so.
Give your readers a chance to find out more about the author behind the content, and whether or not they’re experts in the field.
If the content is about symptoms of a particular disease, it would help the reader to know if the advice is from a certified medical professional.
For this, you want to provide the author’s name, credentials, and other details. This should help both the reader and Google evaluate their trustworthiness and that of the information they provide.
Note that this only applies to a page under the YMYL category. For any other page, a simple trick would be to document the process. Experiment with the information you give. Only give the information that you have tried, tested and found to work.
For product pages and landing pages, you want to give your customers access to a review or customer support page.
2# Link to Authoritative Sources
Identify authoritative sources in your field and develop a habit of linking to them.
This is especially important when you’re referring to statistical facts.
Ask yourself, “can this post be made more credible by linking to an authoritative source?”
Doing that will make your blog appear more credible and trustworthy to not only readers but also in the eyes of Google’s quality raters.
3# Invest in Your Reputation and Personal Branding
If you do write your own blog posts, then it’s time you started investing in personal branding.
Ever wondered why big companies tend to perform better? It’s because they’re well-known and reputable in their fields.
Learn to be truthful.
If your content lacks depth or spread misinformation, don’t expect to reap much in terms of SEO. And when Google eventually picks on it, expect it to only hurt your SEO effort.
So, regardless of how small your website is, your focus should be on giving useful and high-quality information to your site visitors.
How exactly do you increase your online reputation and personal branding?
- Polish up your social media presence. Get a nice photoshoot, clean up unnecessary information, and start interacting with influencers, customers and your target audience.
- Reach out to trusted sources and see if you can build a relationship with them.
- Win your customers’ trust through helpful interaction
4# Edit Low-quality Posts or Get Rid of them
Learn to treat every page or blog post as a chance to help a customer. It should serve a clearly defined purpose.
If it doesn’t, then it’s not worth having in the first place.
Ask yourself, how does this page benefit the user?
While at it, don’t mislead the user by using clickbait headlines. Any attempt to deceive the user will only land you in trouble with Google sooner or later.
Stop creating content for the sake of populating your website or blog with posts. Instead, focus on offering value by creating strong, comprehensive and well-crafted posts.
If your website has thin content, then consider removing or editing them.
Consider doing the following:
- Delete thin or poorly written content with little to no value to offer to the user
- Don’t deceive your customers with clickbait-y titles and topics
- Create comprehensive, detail-oriented, and factually correct content
5# Don’t Hide Your Website’s Identity
Don’t operate in the dark.
At the end of the day, your customers and visitors must know the faces behind your business. They should know where the business is located and who handles what within the organization.
This demands that you build a strong “About Us” or “Contact us” page on your website.
You also have to make sure these pages can be easily accessed.
Also try to include reviews, testimonials, and ratings.
Moreover, provide a detailed overview of your company’s history and certification, if any.
Likewise, you want to provide a physical address and any other relevant contact details.
Consider doing the following:
- Build a detail-oriented “contact us” and “about us” page with the correct information. Everything must feel genuine and relatable.
- Your “About Us” page must tell your story. Give as much information as you can without holding anything back. The more convincing you get the more search engines are likely to award you a high E-A-T score.
6# Improve Your Site’s Technical Security
Google will only assign you a good E-A-T score after they have established that your site is secure.
If your website still uses HTTP, your web browser will mark it as “not secure.” Worse, this tag will also be shown to your users.
As a result, you’ll lose a majority of your site visitors.
So, what exactly should you do?
You can begin by installing an SSL certificate, which encrypts the connection between your web server and the user’s web browser. It ensures that the connection cannot be sniffed and that they can safely share sensitive information.
Google is strict on the issue of security, especially to sites that handle transactions. If your ecommerce store indicates an insecure connection, then you can be sure they’ll award it a low E-A-T score.
Consider doing the following:
- Install an SSL certificate
- Update your CMS (especially WordPress) and all the plugins you’re using
7# Edit Your Posts
Never publish any post without first editing it.
A nicely written and edited piece of content will come across as more trustworthy and authoritative compared to a post that’s littered with punctuation, spelling, and careless grammar mistakes.
Learn to proofread your work. Proofread it one more time before publishing it.
Be sure to also run it through Grammarly to corrects some of the grammar mistakes that might have escaped your eyes.
If possible, hire a proofreader or consider getting an extra pair of eyes to help you go through the post and point out careless grammar mistakes that might have slipped through.
8# Write Long-form Posts
Long-form posts carry more weight. They’re more authoritative and trustworthy. And the reason for that is that they’re more comprehensive and tend to answer online searchers’ questions fully.
However, you only want to write a long-form post when it’s necessary and helpful to the reader. A long-form post that’s littered with fluff and irrelevant information is not as authoritative and trustworthy as a shorter, nicely-written one.
The point is to try and focus on quality rather than word count. Always aim to cover topics more exhaustively, leaving the user with no room to take the search elsewhere.
Wear the mind of the reader and ask yourself, “what else might the user be interested to know.”
In the end, you want to establish yourself as the go-to authority in your field.
Also, high-quality authority content naturally attracts backlinks – another marker that Google uses to rate your website’s E-A-T.
9# Make Your “About Us” Page Awesome
You can boost your E-A-T score by writing an awesome “About Us” page.
Start by explaining who you are and what makes you qualified to write about a particular blog topic.
You don’t necessarily need official qualifications or recognised awards, although it helps. Instead, talk about your experiences and personal success with what you write.
Users aren’t interested in your academic credentials. Not more than they’re interested in the assurance that you have experience with what you talk about.
You’re your own testimony.
Don’t get it wrong. You can still talk about your academic qualifications, but you want to mix it up with real experience.
The trick is simple – always try to wear the reader’s mind. Imagine a reader who comes to your site and says, “why would I want to listen to you and not any other blogger? What makes you special?”
That’s the mindset to carry when writing your “about us.” You just have to figure out how to convince your readers that you’re the real deal and the person they should all be following.
10# There’s no Harm in Shouting About Your Credentials
If you have official expertise, then let the whole world know about it.
Be sure to mention it somewhere on your blog, where your site visitors can read.
Include your academic qualifications, as well as the awards you’ve won or the authoritative sites you have been featured on.
There’s no harm in mentioning anything that makes you an authority figure in your field.
Do all this to improve your E-A-T score both in the eyes of Google you’re your target users.
11# Borrow Authority
Feed off other website owners or bloggers authority.
You can start by identifying the other experts in your field and see how you can also benefit from their authority.
Here are a few ways to go about it:
- Guest post on their blogs
- Interview some of the experts in your field
- Round up their expert opinions on different issues. You can interview a long list of experts and round up their advice in a single piece of article.
- Have them vet your content
- Ask them to help you share it
It’s not so often do you see experts vet content. But if your content falls under the YMYL category and don’t have any formal expertise to back it up, you can have one of the professionals go through it and vet it.
This is an excellent strategy to get around your lack of academic credentials.
For example, as a healthy food blogger, you can get a nutritionist to vet your blog posts and see if they can officially endorse them. This would add more credibility and authoritativeness, hence a higher E-A-T score.
12# Start Guess Blogging
You can boost your website’s authoritativeness by guest blogging for other well-established and respected blogs in your field.
Do this to improve your credibility not just in the eyes of Google’s page quality raters but to your readers as well.
It’s simple, other sites would only let you write for them because they believe in your expert opinion and style of writing.
Finding sites that accept guest blogs isn’t hard.
Just hit the search engine and run a search like:
“[Your Niche] Write for Us.
“[Your Niche] Contributor’s guidelines.
Alternatively, directly reach out to some of the blogs in your niche and ask them if they accept guest blogs.
Even better, try pitching to a relevant magazine or newspaper. Most importantly, learn how to use HARO.
Here’s a guide you want to read for more information on how to use HARO to build your backlink profile:
13# Maintain an Active Social Media Presence
Choose at least one social media platform and try to stay active.
Social media might not be an excellent strategy for driving traffic to your blog, but it’s an effective way to establish your E-A-T.
It’s external validation that both Google and your readers use to confirm your authority and expertise.
You don’t have to spend hours on social media. Just identify a few relevant ones and dedicate an hour or two to interacting with your social media followers.
In whatever you do, just make sure your presence can be felt.
Schedule your posts and most importantly try to answer most of the questions that followers throw at you.
You also want to make sure your social media bios are complete and updated with the latest information about your business or company.