E-A-T is a new acronym in SEO land that stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust – criteria that Google is using to ensure that the websites it’s ranking highly are factually accurate, helpful, and reliably-sourced.
Expertise means that they want you to be an expert in your field. Authority means that you need to make sure Google can understand your credentials. Trust means that you do what you say you will do and can be trusted to deliver the goods.
The following is an alphabetic list of things to consider when trying to improve the E-A-T of your website.
It’s not necessary to do everything on this checklist and many of the steps here you will likely have already completed. Additionally, not everything on here will be relevant to every site and this checklist is focused mostly on commercial sites so please keep that in mind when reading.
Adverts and other content shouldn’t distract from the main content on a page or stop users from accessing it.
- Are pop-up ads and interstitial pages (pages before or after expected content) easy to close?
- Are adverts distracting? Do they contain graphic or shocking content?
- Can users view your content? (remove ads that scroll with the page and interstitial content that redirects them away without providing a way back).
It should be clear to Google and people using your site who owns the site and who created the content on it. This includes providing contact details whenever possible.
- Is content on your site attributed to a person, company, or organisation?
- Do you have author pages for content contributors?
- Is it clear who owns and maintains your site? Do you have an ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ page?
- Do you have a dedicated blog with further information about your site or business?
- Are your contact details on every page of your site?
Content should be well made and clearly show that a great deal of work, time, and skill has been put into creating it. All information should be factual, up-to-date, and an appropriate length. Clickbait titles are a no-go. Google also has much stricter standards for major businesses than they do for small local businesses.
- How does your content help the person using it?
- Does your content function the way it’s supposed to?
- Do all the pages on your site load properly?
- Do any e-commerce pages function properly? Can users find and purchase products?
- Is content well written? Is there spelling or grammatical mistakes?
- Does written content make sense? Is it easy to read?
- Is there keyword stuffing (cramming in keywords with no concern for readability)?
- Is all information factual?
- For factual content – do you use any of your own original research? By producing original research you are providing something extra valuable for Google’s users.
- Also for factual content – do you provide references to other work that you’ve drawn information from? This way Google can get an idea of how credible your info is.
- Does any scientific or medical information represent a ‘well-established consensus’?
- Is content frequently reviewed and updated?
- Is any content copied or auto-generated? If so, replace it with original human-created content.
- Do titles accurately describe the content they belong to? Are any exaggerated or shocking?
- Are you producing content about a niche topic? (If not you’ll need to provide as much information as possible).
4. Misleading Content
Deceiving users is very much frowned upon. It’s unlikely that your business’s website engages in any of this behaviour (so I won’t format these as questions) but it’s worth mentioning the behaviours Google considers malicious.
- Stealing passwords or personal information.
- Impersonating a different site or brand – with a copied logo or branding or a very similar URL.
- Presenting factually inaccurate misinformation in order to benefit a person, business, or organisation (monetarily, politically, or otherwise).
- Non-satirically presenting false conspiracies or hoaxes as if they were accurate.
- Falsely claiming to provide independent reviews in order to manipulate users.
- Falsely claiming to be a celebrity in order to manipulate users.
To help ensure that shopping sites are legitimate, not scams, Google wants to see their policies displayed somewhere that’s easy for users to find.
- On shopping sites – do you display your payment, exchange, and return policies prominently?
For a page to be useful it should have a clear purpose and meet that purpose as perfectly as possible. The main content on the page should also be easy to access and use.
- It is obvious, from a glance, the purpose or purposes of every page on your site?
- Are there any pages that are not helpful to users? Pages that are purely commercial are not considered helpful.
- How well does your page fulfil its purpose? Does it do what it’s intended for?
- Is it clear what is the main content and what is advertisements and supplementary content (sidebars, headers, footers etc)?
- Are adverts and sponsored content clearly labelled? Misleading users into clicking on content they do not wish to click on is not okay.
The ‘E’ in E-A-T stands for ‘expertise’. Google wants to make sure that the information at the top of their search results is accurate. To provide information on some topics (YMYL – see below) authors have to be qualified experts, but with other subjects, lived-experience is often enough.
- Have you filled out author pages with information about the author’s experience, qualifications, awards, and any time they’ve been mentioned or quoted by relevant experts? (and have you linked to these to help Google join the dots?)
- Have you added professional organisations your business belongs to on your About page or Homepage?
- Have you mentioned awards that your business has won and qualifications that your team has earnt?
- Have you talked about how long your business has been operating?
Ensuring that Google makes a strong connection between your business and the areas you cover will make it more likely for your website to rank well.
- Do you only produce relevant content? For example, if your site is about car repairs, don’t add a page with a recipe for cupcakes.
- Have you built up links and citations from relevant individuals, companies, and organisations (particularly ones with high E-A-T)?
- Have you created and maintained a relationship with relevant experts in your field?
9. Reputation (Off-Site)
Your online reputation is determined by a wide variety of things but Google looks mostly at external sources to determine if they can trust you. It’s worth noting that lacking any online reputation doesn’t mean that you won’t rank well (unless your site is considered YMYL – see below) but it’s still great to do all you can to gain a positive reputation.
- Has your company been recommended online by a professional society or other relevant experts?
- Is your company or anyone in your team a member of a professional society? If so, is this mentioned anywhere apart from on your site?
- Has your business won any awards and where are they mentioned?
- Is there any positive press surrounding your company?
- Have any important (and relevant) people or organisations made a reference to your company or a member of your team online (such as quoting you on their own website)?
10. Reputation (On-Site)
While on-site reputation improvement will likely have less of an effect than ones off-site, they’re still worth considering. Anything that makes you appear as highly trained, knowledgeable, and trustworthy experts is fantastic and should probably be mentioned on your site.
- Have you made it clear what professional organisations you belong to?
- Have you mentioned any awards that you’ve won?
- Have you added positive testimonials to your site?
- Do you engage with users on your site? Do people interact with your blog posts and do you respond to them?
- Have you mentioned important relationships that you have with industry experts? For example, our own Marcus Miller writes for Search Engine Land.
Reviews and reputation cover similar ground but here we’re looking specifically at what actual customers think about your business.
- Do you chase up your satisfied customers for positive reviews?
- Do you encourage unsatisfied customers to get in touch to resolve their issues?
- If you do have bad reviews, do you make sure to address and resolve them?
- What is the content of your bad reviews? Do they mention small, one-off issues or a larger problem (such as evidence of financial wrongdoing)?
- How does your company score on sites like Yelp, Trustpilot, and Better Business Bureau?
- If appropriate, how do you score on Amazon or Google Shopping?
- Search for the name of your business – what shows up in the search results? An obvious sign that Google doesn’t trust you is if they boost negative reviews about your company to the front page.
12. Site Security and Maintenance
Making sure that your site is secure will increase your E-A-T – as your site will be considered more trustworthy.
- Have you converted your site to HTTPS by obtaining an SSL certificate?
- Do you perform regular maintenance on your site?
- Does your site have hacked pages?
- Are comment sections and forums free of user-generated spam?
- Have you created a Google Search Console account and set it up to inform you if your site is hacked?
13. YMYL (Your Money or Your Life Sites)
YMYL is an acronym that Google uses to describe a site that may be harmful to searchers (if the information on it is false). A wide range of topics falls under this heading, as well as commercial sites – particularly ones that sell expensive or ‘big ticket’ items.
- Is your site commercial? Can people send you money for products or services through it?
- If it is a commercial site – how expensive are the products or services you’re selling? Would they be considered ‘big ticket items’?
- Does your site cover topics that could potentially harm the person viewing them if the information you give them is inaccurate? (e.g. legal, financial, or medical advice or important news).
- Are you certain that there’s no potential for harm on your site? Even topics like parenting or car repairs may be considered harmful.
- If your site is potentially harmful, Google will judge it more harshly – please, read back through the whole list above and see if there is anything else you can do to improve your E-A-T.
- Do you have a good online reputation? Google doesn’t want to show potentially harmful content from little-known sources. A non-YMYL site can potentially get away with not having an online reputation but you cannot.
- Is everyone contributing a proven, highly-qualified expert in their topic? Is the information they provide up-to-date and fully-factual?
Improve Your E-A-T
Looking to improve your E-A-T is a solid white hat SEO strategy. We are simply giving our users and the search engines what they want – high-quality results.