As search marketers we are always at the mercy of the most commonly used search engines. For some time now, Google has been the go to search engine for the majority of internet users and so when Google makes a change to the way it displays search results, everyone tends to sit up and take notice.
It isn’t just search marketers who are at the mercy of search engines though – of course, searchers are also at the mercy of the likes of Google.
Google has always had one key objective, and that is to provide their users with the best possible information relevant to their intended search term. Google periodically rolls out what are known as core algorithmic updates to improve the results it shows its users – these are in addition to minor daily changes that are made to the algorithm. One of the most recent core updates took place in early August and was rolled out over several days.
The result? Well that depends.
In SEO circles, the update was mainly targeted at YMYL website (your money or your life) which in layman’s terms means any websites that are related to money or health. The update put a huge emphasis on expertise, authority and trustworthiness – of course, there is an acronym for that – E-A-T.
Essentially, Google started to reward websites that were clearly showing expertise, authority and trustworthiness and massively down-ranked websites that did not have what they deemed to be the necessary credentials. From an historic SEO perspective, these sites may have had everything in place to rank but the new update meant they shifted from page one to obscurity.
If you have a website that is either in the financial niche or the health/medical niche then the chances are you will already know about this update, but if you are not in these industries should you care about it and if you are in those industries, how can you improve your E-A-T rating and is it even possible?
Why Authority and Expertise Matter for your Website
If your website doesn’t fall under the YMYL category then you might be thinking that E-A-T is not important to you. This is rarely the case in search marketing and if Google starts something small and finds it works, then they often roll it out on a bigger scale. The point of this update was to ensure that searchers were getting quality information for potentially life changing or life threatening search terms. While it may seem obvious that Google would want this for financial and health related searches we already know that Google essentially wants this for all searches – therefore, it is fair to assume that the Big G is highly likely to roll this sort of update out across a number of other websites as the impact fits their core aims so well.
So it makes sense to want to show expertise, authority and trustworthiness to protect ourselves from possible future updates.
In addition to this, from a personal point of view, surely we should want to be placing ourselves and our business as an authority, having expertise and being trustworthy anyway. Aren’t these three attributes going to set us apart from the competition and increase our conversions from website visitors to customers?
Whether you are a local service provider, online retailer, national or international company – surely it serves you to position yourself as an expert with authority and as a company the customer can trust.
How To Demonstrate Authority, Expertise and Trustworthiness
There is a distinction to make here between how you show your E-A-T-ability for search engines and how you demonstrate it to your customers. For most businesses, our advice is usually to go with what feels natural for your customers and put them first rather than a search engine. There are a few pointers you can follow though to make your expertise, authority and trustworthiness shine for search engines too.
To show authority and expertise it will largely come down to your reputation. For the medical and financial industries this meant that pages that had been clearly written by authors or bloggers with a strong reputation or were well know as experts were rewarded in the search results. Google wants to know that the author of the content has expertise in that particular field. This means that including author information is important and that the biography of that author is relevant to the topic.
To take it one step further, other online profiles for that author should indicated expertise or knowledge of the field. Investing some time in personal branding for the author – perhaps their own website, updating their LinkedIn page etc. would be a worthwhile task. You could also use structured data markup to indicate the author or business owner’s personal brand pages such as social profiles.
To establish a website as an authority we always suggest content creation as a critical process. Most businesses find it difficult to keep on top of this but it can make such a difference to the website visitors and we already understand the importance of fresh content on a website from Google’s freshness index. Regularly adding high quality content that positions the company as an expert can certainly help display expertise to your customers and hopefully to search engines too.
Trustworthiness is a difficult one to put your finger on and perhaps lends itself more to the technical elements of a website than the actual content itself. Ensuring the users data is secure by running fully functioning SSL certificates over HTTPS is a good starting point – there are still so many websites that haven’t ensured they are compliant with this. Consider also where your outbound links are going. If you have an affiliate website that links out to websites with unscrupulous offers then the chances are you are not going to be deemed as trustworthy. Likewise, if you are constantly citing information from Wikipedia for stats and information in your articles then you are probably not going to be a shining beacon of trustworthiness.
Final Thought: As always, put yourself in the position of your website users. What would you want to see? What would you want to know? Don’t create content for the sake of it but try and provide value to real problems that real people might have.