The average business drives more than half (53%) of its site traffic through organic search, and most of today’s purchases involve organic search, according to Semrush—a leading industry SaaS platform specializing in keyword research and competitor analysis.
Naturally, that means content is an important part of any brand’s organic growth strategy. And there are lots of content strategies and marketing tactics that can help your brand secure visibility on Google. As you likely already know, SEO-optimized editorial content is one of the top ways to land on Google’s coveted “page one.”
However, all the SEO research and well-written editorial content in the world may not help your brand stand apart if your content isn’t demonstrating E-E-A-T—especially if your industry falls into Google’s Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sector.
What is E-E-A-T and why should you care?
Google’s stated goal is to provide people with the most relevant and reliable information available. To accomplish this, Google uses algorithms that consider the words in a search query, the content of relevant result pages, language, and location when serving up search results.
Google also uses real live humans to cross-check content against Google’s rigorous Search Quality Rater Guidelines. Up until December 2022, when Google introduced what they call “Double-e-a-t” or “E-E-A-T,” these search raters evaluated content using the concept of E-A-T to help Google determine if its search ranking systems are providing helpful and relevant information. The process was to essentially review content to decide if regular folks would feel the content they encountered during a search demonstrated E-A-T, or expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Now, Google has gone further in its content review process, adding an extra E for “experience.” And search reviewers are auditing content to see if it was “produced with some degree of experience”—meaning first-hand, real-life experience with the topic at hand.
How Google evaluates E-E-A-T
When doing their scoring, Google Quality Raters are tasked with reviewing pages against a lengthy checklist to determine if a page is low, high, or medium quality. One major factor that plays into determining if a page is scored as “high” quality is its level of E-E-A-T.
According to Google, “Depending on the purpose of the page, topic, and type of website, a high level of E-E-A-T may be required for the page to achieve its purpose well and be considered high quality. Pages with high E-E-A-T are trustworthy or very trustworthy.”
Here’s a closer look what Quality Raters are looking for when it comes to E-E-A-T:
- Experience: The newest addition to the E-E-A-T guide concept, Google considers “experience” to be important for any type of topic. Examples of high-quality “experience” content range from user-generated forum discussions to first-hand product reviews. But it can also include blog posts from someone talking about their actual experience with a product, service, or something like paying off college loans.
- Expertise: When evaluating pages for “expertise,” search raters consider what type of expertise is needed to create “satisfying, trustworthy” content. Many types of topics require “expertise for satisfying content,” from hobbies like photography to more serious YMYL topics like tax preparation.
- Authoritativeness: Search raters are looking for websites that are the “authoritative source” for the type of information being displayed. For example, in finance, government websites, like the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), show “authoritativeness.” But, a local business or organization, can also be a go-to source, depending on the topic.
- Trustworthiness: For YMYL topics, search raters look for pages that are “trustworthy”,” especially for things like processing financial transactions or providing YMYL information and education. But “trustworthiness” can also be an important factor for pages that offer advice, in any topic, even if it’s not YMYL, since according to Google, “a trustworthy page is often a satisfying one.”
Does E-E-A-T affect rank directly?
Not exactly, but it does play a role—even if Google is a bit cagey about sharing what that exactly means. With the update, Google explains that “these guidelines are what are used by our search raters to help evaluate the performance of our various search ranking systems, and they don’t directly influence ranking. They can also be useful to creators seeking to understand how to self-assess their own content to be successful in Google Search.”
Since it seems E-E-A-T doesn’t have a direct impact on page rank, and Google is vague on the impact, we wondered why brands should care? Emily Dougherty, SEO strategist and owner of YostSEO, encourages Pinwheel, and her other content clients to “think of E-E-A-T as a concept.”
According to Dougherty, “the ‘T’ for “trust” is the most important part of the acronym. Building trust with your audience will result in other positive engagements that indicate to Google’s “algo” that your content/website is one to trust, and therefore rank. Demonstrating the E-E-A of the acronym works together to build that T: trust.”
She further explains that “E-E-A-T operates on a spectrum and aims to positively influence the quality of search results. If your E-E-A-T lacks in comparison to competitors’ E-E-A-T, your content will struggle to outrank them.”
With Google’s introduction of Double-e-a-t, Dougherty theorizes, “that the search engine giant noticed an uptick in users seeking and interacting with forum-type or user-generated content that offered first-hand accounts.”
For example, Google may now give more weight to an article from this perspective:
Article titled ‘How I Boosted My Credit Score by XX Points in XX Days’ written by someone with first-hand experience raising their credit score from XXX to XXX
versus this perspective
An article titled ‘How to Improve Your Credit Score’ written by someone who has X years of personal finance writing experience but can’t provide a first-hand account.
“Google knows that users would prefer to read the first example article. Experience isn’t necessarily how many ‘years of experience’ someone has in an industry (this would be their ‘expertise’), but rather, does the person have a first-hand account of a specific situation?”
Putting E-E-A-T into action
So let’s talk tactics. If you’re a brand producing informative content for your site’s blog, knowledge center, or other educational hub, here are a few ideas to help you sprinkle more E-E-A-T into your content.
Craft high-quality content
This one goes without saying. Good content is still the gold standard. Take your time, be thoughtful, plan out your strategy, do your research, and check your facts. Speak about things you have expertise in. And make sure it’s relevant, useful, and valuable to readers.
Don’t skimp on the SEO research either. There are many tools available to help you come up with a keyword strategy, or you can partner with an SEO strategist to help identify target topics, keywords, and generate an SEO brief.
When putting together your article outlines, be sure to break up your content with H2s, H3s, and FAQs that can answer questions found in your SEO research and Google’s People Also Ask (PAA). For bonus points, after your content is written, use an SEO grader to make sure your content is on point. You’ll also want to audit published content often and optimize for SEO when needed.
Extra Tip: Like a college term paper, sourcing, grammar, and structure matter. These should be a no-brainer when it comes to quality content, but make sure you’re editing carefully, using and citing trusted sources, and proofreading. An article full of mistakes or unreliable information of any kind certainly doesn’t demonstrate E-E-A-T.
Recruit expert authors and editors
Hopefully your brand is already using industry experts to write educational and editorial content for your site—especially if you fall under any of the YMYL categories. For example, if you’re a consumer finance brand or bank, it’s a good idea to hire experienced finance writers who have written for big, established brands to generate your content.
When recruiting talent, look for bylined authors who already write for industry publications, your competitors, etc. For example, Experian often taps leading finance experts to contribute to their blog, like Ben Luthi. Ben is a sought-after industry expert and speaker and has written thousands of finance articles (many of which have been for Pinwheel clients!).
Partner with credentialed contributors
Think about what degrees or certifications matter in your industry and be on the lookout for editorial talent that has these professional titles. For example, if you’re in the finance space, you could consider hiring CPAs, financial planners, and other trusted sources to write content. Or, if you’re in the medical sector, for example, having a healthcare provider contribute content can help demonstrate E-E-A-T.
Use subject matter experts
Hiring industry experts to help with content creation doesn’t have to stop at article authors. Many brands, particularly in the YMYL space, are also tapping well-known editors and subject matter experts (SMEs) to join their content teams.
For example, Insurify uses contributing writers like John Egan (another writer on the Pinwheel roster), who has more than 20 years of insurance and finance writing under his belt. Content then goes through expert editors, like Katie Powers, an editor in the insurance space and a licensed insurance agent.
Sites like WebMD use a similar strategy, but take it a step further. Content is “medically reviewed” by healthcare professionals, like Minesh Khatri, MD, who is a board-certified physician, associate professor, and published author.
You can also work with writers who have first-hand experience on a particular topic, like paying down debt, turning their finances around after divorce, or living on a military family budget.
Promote your experts
Having expert talent on your content roster is important, but to help build both your brand’s and website’s credibility online, you’ve got to shout about it. Google (and your readers) need to know that the folks writing, editing, or reviewing your content are in fact, experts. And providing lots of transparency online about this is key.
Byline your articles
If you’re working with industry writers, you should absolutely be promoting them with a byline.
Time and time again, brands are hiring the best and brightest to write for them, but publishing content without a byline. When you look at a company’s blog, you may see no byline at all or something vague like, “Written by Editorial Team.” Some brands are still taking a ghostwriting approach, which doesn’t usually do much for E-E-A-T, unless you’re attributing the article to an “expert” staff member.
Remember, bylines are your friend. At the very minimum, if you’re using an expert author, include the writer’s name with every article your brand publishes. Even better? Add an editor’s name to the byline, too. And if you’re using SMEs to review your content, include that person’s name in the article byline as well.
Check out this WebMD example:
Create bios for writers, editors, and SMEs
A strong bio should include a few sentences about the writer’s experience, other outlets they contribute to, how long they’ve been in the industry, and any special credentials. Rinse and repeat for content editors and SMEs.
Bios can be showcased on the content page itself or hyperlinked from an article byline to a landing page. If you really want to up your E-E-A-T game, consider using a rollover effect for a mini bio in the byline, like Insurify.
Talk up your team
From in-house editors to contract writers and outside SMEs, the quality of your content team can speak volumes about your brand’s E-E-A-T. So why not talk them up on an editorial “about us” landing page? This gives readers transparency into who’s behind your brand’s editorial muscle. While this doesn’t directly impact page rank, an editorial team page can give your E-E-A-T a boost, which as we explained above ultimately helps page rank rise.
It’s also a practical place to share information about your content guidelines, editorial process, and ethical standards. NerdWallet and Investopedia do this well, showcasing their editors, writers, copyeditors, and more. Insurify takes a slightly different approach, including freelance writers and SMEs, too. Don’t forget to create individual writer landing pages, too, like Experian. This is a way to showcase your writing talent and tease other articles they’ve written.
The bottom line
E-E-A-T is here to stay and may impact how your content will perform on Google—even if it’s an indirect way. If you’re not sure how to incorporate E-E-A-T to your content, we’re happy to help. Pinwheel’s SEO Content Engine is designed to help brands showcase their experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness through top-performing content.
Not only can we help you figure the best way to tackle a content program, but we bring top industry writing, editing, and SME talent right to your door. When you partner with Pinwheel, you can rest easy knowing that we only hire senior-level talent. So if you want to hit that new E for “experience” hard, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we can handle all aspects of freelancer management, from recruitment to payments.
Give us a shout if you’re ready to up your brand’s E-E-A-T.