Crafting Content Google Craves: A Recipe for Improving Your E-A-T Rating in 2020 (According to Google)

November 28, 2019

It’s Thanksgiving, and that means it’s time to do what this nation does best: E-A-T.

But before you disconnect from your computer to flock to the dinner table for the annual feast of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, take a moment to review the content featured on your website: Are you feeding Google the high-quality content its ranking algorithm craves this Thanksgiving?

With 2020 just around the corner, brands need to take a good, hard look at the content they’ve added to the menu this year. Chances are, most haven’t been producing content that satisfies Google’s appetite for E-A-T. But how can we ensure we’re crafting the high-quality content Google loves in 2020? Here at The Search Agency, we took to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines to unpack what constitutes “high-quality content” – in Google’s own words.

Read on for our simple, homemade recipe for improving your E-A-T score in 2020 and beyond. You may want to bookmark this page – this is one recipe that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season!

What is E-A-T?

E-A-T is an acronym used by Google and the SEO community as a framework to determine which web pages or websites demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness on a given topic. Websites with high E-A-T ratings are those that communicate expertise on topics that require accuracy, authority through quality content and credible awards, and trust through positive reputation and security.

Establishing and growing your expertise, authority and trustworthiness – better known as E-A-T in Google’s quality guidelines – will continue to be a key trend in 2020.

Understanding Your “E-A-T Score”

E-A-T is a part of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG), which are used to evaluate the quality of search results for specified queries. In theory, the higher the quality rating, the better your content will rank. While “E-A-T scores” are purely hypothetical and don’t directly impact search results, this feedback from quality raters is used to develop the algorithm and understand how updates are performing.

So, what better way to understand how Google defines “quality” than by adopting the mindset of the quality rater – and evaluating content the way Google instructs them to in the QRG?

When evaluating whether a page on your site has high- or low-E-A-T content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Expertise: What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well?
  • Authority: How credible is the content, author, and website publishing this content?
  • Trust: How trustworthy is the website publishing this information?

E-A-T is no longer exclusively mentioned in the Quality Rater Guidelines. Today, E-A-T is mentioned on several locations across the web, including Google’s How Search Works guide, where E-A-T is described as a key ranking factor:

How to Improve Your Website’s E-A-T Signals in 2020

Here are the most important ingredients in the recipe for E-A-T success in 2020:

  1. Every page must have a purpose, and that purpose must be accomplished to benefit the user. Specifically, the page should fulfill its intended purpose, but that purpose also should be user-centered (whether that is to make readers laugh, sell them something, inform them, teach them, etc.).
  2. Strong, optimized, easily visible About Us & Contact Us pages are crucial: About Us page should include third-party reviews, testimonials & ratings, in-depth company history and certifications from industry organizations. Contact info (NAP data) should be visible across site, either in global header or footer.
  3. Do everything you can to display E-A-T related information for your business and your authors. Don’t be afraid to brag about why your business is the best, how you have more experience than competitors, where you have been mentioned, etc. The same applies to your authors. Get them published in authoritative places. Display E-A-T related info in an author bio and link to a full author profile.
  4. Content must be written by experts, and expertise should be clearly communicated/visible through author bio & credentials (e.g. relevant certifications, references, professional experience).
  5. Meta data should communicate E-A-T, not urgency: SERP listing should emphasize trust, leveraging star ratings and verified reviews.
    • Scrap “Hurry – offer ends soon!” and “Get started today!” language, and replace it with “All instructors are certified”/ “Voted #1 in Industry since 2001” / “Helping 100,000 happy customers and counting” / “The only company trusted by the Forbes 100”
  6. Avoid clickbait when crafting copy: Avoid any page elements that could be seen as intentionally deceiving your users. Remove page titles and headlines that are exaggerated or shocking.
    • “Exaggerated or shocking titles can entice users to click on pages in search results. If pages do not live up to the exaggerated or shocking title or images, the experience leaves users feeling surprised and confused. Pages with exaggerated or shocking titles that do not describe the content well should be rated Low.”
  7. Company Wikipedia page should be optimized, thorough, and feature an ‘Awards & Recognition’ section: To get a high E-A-T rating, your business must have a “positive reputation as a trustworthy source” – and Google’s guidelines explicitly state that raters should look to Wikipedia for relevant awards & recognition when conducting “reputation research” to corroborate claims made on-site
  8. Merge thin/duplicate content into one high-E-A-T landing page: Google rewards strong, comprehensive, well-written, factually accurate content, and penalizes sites with thin or duplicate content. A content consolidation or content pruning campaign may be necessary for a site to improve its E-A-T rating.

Although the search quality guidelines are written for Google’s quality raters, rather than Google’s algorithm itself, they help us understand where Google is heading in the short term. They reinforce what we know to be true: that “quality” comes with context.  You can’t write authoritative content and expect it to rank in 2020 – moving forward, you must be an authority on a given subject for your content to succeed.

The goal is to build your brand’s core topic expertise until you are known as the go-to source of information about that topic – that’s the level of expertise Google is looking for to power their results. While building up that level of expertise is no easy feat, there’s no better time than the holidays to practice crafting high-quality content that boosts your E-A-T score. By following our recipe for E-A-T success in 2020, you may even satisfy the pickiest guest at the dinner table this Thanksgiving: Google.

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