Why is Google spelling E-A-T with an extra E? And what impact is AI having on E-A-T?
That’s what we’re covering today with a man who’s spoken on E-A-T with three E’s at Brighton SEO. He previously managed an SEO campaign that won a global search award and is currently the SEO and content manager at Swoop Funding. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Edward Ziubrzynski
In this episode, Edward shares why E-A-T should be at the core of your SEO strategy.
- How AI is affecting E-E-A-T
- Why did Google add Experience to E-A-T?
- Why should you start with Trust?
- Examples of Expertise and Authoritativeness
Eeat SEO Strategy
Edward: Hey, thank you for having me.
1. How is AI affecting E-E-A-T?
D: Thanks for coming on. You can find Edward over at swoopfunding.com. So Edward, let’s start off with the perspective of AI because obviously, that’s a hot topic at the moment. So how is AI affecting E-A-T?
E: In the new AI world that’s ever-evolving, it’s fantastic content that can be well written, cited, referenced, resourced, and is at the fingertips of anyone just by plugging in a very simple command. Whether it’s ChatGPT and you type in a simple thing such as “How can I find the best business loan?” Or “How can I source funding for my new business?” And you’ll get a well-returned article. The difference is that everybody is now able to do that just by hitting a few keys. What will over time separate people that use the AI content, from the well-written crafted curated content is the aspect of E-E-A-T. When AI produces content, there is essentially no author, there is no expertise that has gone into creating the piece, it is just scraped from around the web. And as well, there is no authority or trustworthiness that you can apply to it as you can’t see the person who is actually responsible for publishing said content. And even when publishing AI-written content and assigning it to the organization, in doing so you are removing that human element that is so critical for businesses nowadays to really differentiate themselves. When you think of any business industry that you operate in, there are going to be hundreds, if not thousands, of companies just like you. The only thing that is going to set you apart is the amazing team that you have, the credentials of all of those people, and how you best apply that information to your website as a whole, but also every bit of content that can be seen to be educating, offering a service or a product. And even the general main content of your website. Anything that is written and published needs to have a responsible source behind it.
D: Great point. Basically, don’t be a lazy marketer. Don’t just rely on AI. If you do that, then you’re not going to differentiate yourself from everyone else and you’re not giving yourself any chance to rank highly, certainly for competitive terms.
Moving on from that slightly, I woke up one morning, and I saw that someone was sharing an article about E-A-T with two E’s. And I thought someone had misspelled it. But Google had actually introduced this extra E at the beginning, Experience. Why did they do that?
2. Why did Google add Experience to E-A-T?
E: Experience has always played into the expertise part of E-A-T. However, it was very much integrated within Expertise in its own right, as Google would value personal experience in the same word as Expertise. I think the move to include it, around December of last year, was to highlight that personal experience does count for expertise as years of service within an industry can be a vital source of information, and also credibility behind a certain topic area. For instance, somebody that’s been working in finance for 10 years should in theory be a lot more experienced and have a greater level of expertise. Therefore, authority and trustworthiness for someone that is newly graduated, yes, they’ve got the knowledge and they are walking into that industry with that education behind them, however, they haven’t got the personal tried and tested experience that then lends to that credibility.
D: Is there any way that you can manufacture this experience? Or is that something that you can only gain by having actual experience?
E: I think it’s something that you can only gain from actual experience in the sense that… I talk about digital footprints all the time in the sense of everything down from your LinkedIn to even anything that you do on message boards, forums, and posts you interact with on the internet. Everything like that starts to build a character behind you as a person. So when you’re interacting with posts on LinkedIn where either you’ve contributed to a survey or you’ve offered your opinion on a piece or even on message boards like Reddit. It’s all these little signals that when Google scours the web and is applying content written or attributed to you, it asks who is Edward Ziubrzynski. Who is this person that is offering this information? Why can we trust them? What sort of grounds did they have to be making this statement or these recommendations? And ultimately, why should people feel safe that they can read this content and take something valuable away from it?
3. Why you should start with Trust?
D: Now the other three pillars are expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. And I saw in your Brighton SEO talk that you said to start with trust. Why is that?
E: Trust, in my opinion, was always going to be the most important metric that you could strive to improve because ultimately if your content can be trusted, it must show expertise and authoritativeness. As English-reading people, we read from left to right so you think that expertise and authority are the most important elements is there ultimately at the start of the acronym. Whereas with trustworthiness, if you had a website that was trusted, and you are in a position to offer either a service, a product, or some form of advice, you only get that trustworthiness by being an expert and an authority within your industry. So it’s a bit of a way of reverse engineering it. If you have trust at the forefront of your mind with everything that you’re doing when it comes to website content, then ultimately, that content will, in turn, demonstrate expertise and authority.
D: And what would be a practical way of demonstrating that trust?
E: Having author bios associated with all of your content, but also making sure that the reputation of the individual and the organization as a whole is positive throughout the wider web. Again, back to that idea of a digital footprint, it’s not enough to have on your website a series of reviews and some review schema present. Or even just having a Google business profile. You want to have a positive footprint across the wider web as a whole. So that every little signal that Google or any other search engine crawls and sees in relation to your business is positive. And that’s why I’m not going against the general consensus without due diligence and back in. As we saw with Dr. Axe back in 2018. Because he was offering unfounded medical explanations or options for certain treatments or anything like that. And I believe it was Trustpilot which was absolutely horrifically rated. He saw an overnight drop as a result of the medical update because there wasn’t that positive relationship in the wider web and his website. And that’s something that search engine bots will easily pick up on.
D: You talked about author bios there. What would you say to a brand owner, a business owner, that is scared of offering the ability to include links to social profiles to anyone that contributes to the blog? Because they feel, well, what happens if they move on from the business, then they’re taking the business authority and helping them to drive their own personal brand? Should they be concerned about things like that?
E: In my opinion, no, there are plenty of ways that you can get around this in order to protect yourself, and in the event of somebody moving on it can actually work in your favor. If you can sign some kind of agreement to say that should you leave this company we can still have your likeness on the website just for the content that you’ve been attributed to. If that person then goes on to bigger and better things you can then say this content was produced by this person that is now working here and this is what they did for us. You’re almost gaining value from somebody that is no longer with your business. In circumstances where you absolutely cannot have a person attributed to the website, you can have a generic team bio that says the team here at X company have over 40 years of experience within the industry. And then you can link out to some social profiles or ghostwritten articles that they’ve contributed to. So it gives that signal to the team who have produced articles, not just for this website, but they’ve lended content to websites X, Y, and Z. It creates that digital footprint. You don’t have quite the same human element so it won’t be as effective, however, it is still a nice little loophole that you can look to capitalize on to make sure that you still hammer home the idea of E-A-T without having to give away your secret sauce too much if you worry about your talent being headhunted.
D: Are you saying that any brand needs to have a legal agreement in place with their blog contributors so if they leave the company, they’ve got the right to maintain those blog posts? In case those employees wrote and published blog posts at the time of being with the company the brand has got the right of retaining those blog posts on their side?
E: I think it’s one of those things that it’s going to be completely situational as some employees may be absolutely fine with saying, “Yep, that’s part of my portfolio now so I’m happy for it to still appear even when I’m no longer with the company.” But from the brand’s perspective, in the idea of protecting yourself, it is always advisable to have something in place that says, “Yes, I consent to you using my likeness and bio on the website solely for the content I have produced.” Just so you avoid any unnecessary hiccups down the line where you may have to either remove content or if you were in a situation where you had to remove the author’s bio, you’ve gone from having an incredibly credible piece, written, cited, and reviewed by humans to now it becoming a bit anonymous. And that’s when it falls into that gray area of who’s responsible for this content. And again, that’s when it starts to go against the quality rater guidelines when it doesn’t show who is responsible. You have no idea if any care and attention has been paid to producing this content. And as well, it creates inconsistency on the website, which then over time, if it was to happen at scale, could actually cause issues down the line as you’ve gone from once having incredibly credible content at scale, to now ambiguous content that you don’t really understand the true value of.
4. Examples of Expertise and Authoritativeness
D: What would be examples of demonstrating expertise and authoritativeness?
E: Examples of expertise and authoritativeness would be any industry mentions throughout the Wide Web. Guest contributions, offering insight, even quotes for things like journalists’ requests. Also backing up and screaming and shouting about any sort of awards or accreditations the organization has, but also the employees that make up that organization. Because ultimately, then you’re able to say this company is fantastic because we’ve achieved X, Y, and Z. But the people that make up the team as well have done this in their own right. Companies can be doing the same thing but the thing that makes them different is the people that make up those teams.
Again, just really hammer home and centralize this information. That’s the big part that people tend to overlook or get wrong is that they have all of this behind them. And they have these incredible people making up their teams, or they’ve won countless awards, but it might appear as an image in the footer of their website. Ultimately, that doesn’t mean anything apart from a visual trust signal when the user looks at it. It would not contribute to E-E-A-T in the same way because it’s an image as opposed to written text that can be crawled and processed by the search engines.
D: So the best way of doing that would be maybe if you win an award, perhaps create a blog post with interviews of the different employees that you have who participated in the ward, link back to the ward itself, and talk about it with a great post on your site.
E: Absolutely. Every business should have an About Page that acts as your digital business card. Have it featured on there, make it prominent, and even if you’re shortlisted for an award, you have to, in theory, beat out many other businesses to even get an answer for a shortlist. So any nomination for a shortlist wins. Also, in the same light, any partnerships you have with other industry bodies. You’re not acting rogue, or outside the general consensus, or ungoverned. If you’re partnered with a lot of other organizations, for instance, if you’re in healthcare, broadcast your CQC rating. In finance, everything is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. So make sure that you demonstrate that everything that you do, and every bit of content you publish, every bit of anything that ends up on your website, ultimately coincides with the rules and regulations that are given. And you’re adhering to that at all times.
D: And if you do that, then you’re giving yourself a better chance of getting things like Knowledge Panels.
E: Exactly. And as we said earlier, it goes into that whole idea of the digital footprint. You’ve got the organization, you’ve got the individuals, and altogether it creates a much more cohesive, streamlined, and digestible E-A-T signal. Unfortunately, E-A-T isn’t one of those things that are brilliant. I’ll implement ten author bios on the website and list that we’ve won three awards, and suddenly my rankings will go from 14th to third overnight. It’s part of an ongoing commitment. Always make sure that this thing is up to date, frequently updating and reviewing content, and also keeping things like awards and any partnerships up to date just to really hammer home who you are, what you do, and why you can be trusted.
D: Let’s finish off with the Pareto Pickle. So Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What’s one SEO activity that you can do that has an overwhelming impact on your overall results?
The Pareto Pickle – Competitor Analysis
E: The biggest thing that I can say is competitor analysis. It’s so easy to go into things trying to reinvent the wheel thinking you need to do something so drastic and different and quirky and out there. When really, you just need to look at what other people are doing that is tried, tested, and is working. And then look at how you can capitalize on that, see what works well for them. See if you can produce similar articles. If you can offer a different perspective, or if you can ultimately produce better content. I like to look at SEO as the same but better, or the same but different in the sense that if you’re competing with people, especially as a startup, if you’re able to look at what other organizations put out there, even if it’s just to get the general theme, that’s half of your marketing strategy done. And it’s how you then look to implement it in the sense of new content, fresh perspectives, more structured data on the website, and anything like that, that gives you that little edge in the sense that you’re looking at what already works, and you’re improving on it instead of starting from scratch trying to reinvent the wheel?
D: And how often should you be benchmarking yourself against your competitors? And who do you how do you go about defining who your competitors are?
E: Realistically, I like to use marketing tools. On a monthly basis, I’ll choose a certain niche aspect of the business and then look at that in detail. Find who ranks for similar keywords I’m looking to pursue within a certain niche, then instead of looking at 100% of a marketing strategy, break it down to make it super digestible, actionable, and stuff that you can realistically implement now and see the changes in the following week or month. Find the niche that you want to capitalize on and improve on, put the competitors into whatever marketing software or tool that you use, and ultimately find out what they’re doing well. Find out the areas that they’re not doing so well and look for that opportunity to capitalize on the things that they’re doing well that you’re missing. It all comes together to create a brand new cohesive content plan that will then bridge the gap between you and your competitors, signal what it is that you do to Google, get new users interested in your website, and put yourself in front of prospective customers.
D: I’ve in your host, David Bain. You can find Edward over at swoopfunding.com. Edward, thanks so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.
E: Thanks for having me. It’s been great to speak to you.
D: And thank you for listening. Check out all the previous episodes and sign up for a free trial of the Similarweb platform.