Your Keys to a Better Online Reputation


Google favors and rewards sites that produce high-quality content, as they tend to provide the most relevant answers to users’ queries. The two primary concepts that Google uses to assess content’s overall quality and value are E-E-A-T and YMYL. We’ll go over both criteria in this article and see how they can affect rankings.

What is E-E-A-T?

E-E-A-T (or Double-E-A-T) is an acronym for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is the mix of specific signals that Google looks at when evaluating pages for their trust and quality. E-E-A-T is foundational to Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines.

Definition of Google's EEAT Concept

While E-E-A-T isn’t a direct ranking factor for Google’s algorithms, it represents the qualities that Google rewards high-ranking pages for. Pages that demonstrate strong E-E-A-T characteristics, often through factors like content accuracy, links to reputable sources, and positive user engagement, are more likely to be perceived as valuable and relevant by both users and search engines.

Now, let’s define each part of Google E-E-A-T.

Experience

When you perform an online search, chances are you’re looking for content created by people with real-life knowledge. Google recognizes this well, which is why it prioritizes content created by people with first-hand or relevant life experience. Content like this is much more likely to have:

  • Trustworthy information
  • Practical advice and insights
  • Deeper understanding and context

Expertise

By analyzing authors’ background information (even for publications covering broad topics), Google’s raters determine if the content is from qualified experts. Content produced by someone with the appropriate knowledge and expertise will have an edge over similar content pieces generated by experts with less relevant experience. 

In short, this is one of Google’s most effective ways to ensure that the information people are reading online is accurate and trustworthy.

Authoritativeness 

Google looks at several things to determine the content’s authoritativeness, including the author, the page’s main content, and the website itself. Mentions from industry experts and reliable backlinks are also significant signals to Google that the content piece is authoritative. 

Even so, Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines stress that the importance of elements like Experience, Expertise, and Authoritativeness can vary based on niche. In fact, when evaluating content creators, Google looks at the purpose, type, and topic of their pages. This is how Google ensures that the content is written by someone with the appropriate qualifications for that particular niche/topic/page.

Trustworthiness 

Trust is a crucial element within the E-E-A-T framework. Google uses this metric to assess the reliability of information. To put it simply, the elements of E-E-A-T discussed so far (experience, expertise, and authoritativeness) comprise the trust factors. It is important to note, however, that trust itself is a standalone metric. This means that pages lacking trustworthiness will have lower E-E-A-T scores no matter their experience, expertise, or perceived authority. Google also looks at credentials like awards, testimonials, endorsements, etc. when assessing content for trustworthiness.

In most cases, Google E-E-A-T incentivizes authors to demonstrate their experience, expertise, and authoritativeness, especially when writing about legal, financial, or medical topics. Google states, however, that some “pages on YMYL topics are created to share personal experiences, often regarding difficult life challenges.” In other words, sometimes people are just looking up information online to seek comfort or inspiration. Factual information from experts and authoritative sources may not satisfy this need. 

For example, let’s look at the following topic: sleep challenges experienced by pregnant women. All content on sleep medications that are safe during pregnancy should be written by an expert. To write a blog post on how to use pillows to sleep comfortably when pregnant, the person should, at the very least, have the appropriate life experience. This means that the author does not necessarily have to be an expert in this topic to gain favor with Google.

By the way, to find out which topics work best for your competitors, you can use tools like Competitive Research. Once you have a list of high-performing topics, analyze how your rivals structure that content to cover E-E-A-T. With this data, you can pinpoint your competitors’ most effective tactics. Then you can refine your own approach to match or surpass their success.

Is E-E-A-T a ranking factor?

Despite its tremendous impact on page quality scores, Google E-E-A-T itself is not a full-fledged ranking factor—at least not yet.

Danny Sullivan

Public Liaison for Search at Google

While E-E-A-T itself isn’t a ranking factor, using a mix of factors that can identify content with good E-E-A-T is useful. Reading the guidelines may help you self-assess how your content is doing from an E-E-A-T perspective, improvements to consider, and help align it conceptually with the different signals that our automated systems use to rank content.

Nevertheless, Google has already set in motion its work on turning E-E-A-T into a measurable ranking factor. To assess any content’s alignment with each component of E-E-A-T guidelines, Google performs a sophisticated evaluation process. 

Google begins this process by paying people to assess websites. These people are called raters. They assess the utility and quality of content according to expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. The data from search quality raters is used to refine the ranking algorithms of websites.

Danny Sullivan

Public Liaison for Search at Google

Our systems aren’t looking for E-A-T. Our raters are using that to see if our systems are working well to show good information. There are many different signals that, if we get it right, align with what a good human E-A-T assessment would be.

Another key factor is the number and context of mentions or links pointing to the page or author. Links serve as strong indicators of content trustworthiness. For Google YMYL topics, a website or creator’s reputation is heavily influenced by the number of mentions from industry experts. Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional online communities, provide strong evidence of a good reputation.

But new solutions are also being explored. Google has a patent for technology that can calculate the credibility of authors. According to the description, the reputation score can consist of two or more sub-scores, with each sub-score relating to a different aspect of the online content item. The reputation score may also take into account the number of links the online content item has from other online sources, as well as how long the author has been authenticated.

Plus, Google has made big changes to its approach to content assessment with the September 2023 Helpful Content Update. This was the most significant update of the Helpful Content System so far. In fact, millions of website owners noticed it due to drops in their rankings.

As expected, this update has the greatest impact on low-quality, AI-generated content that provides little to no value to users. However, content quality is not the only thing that Google is looking at algorithmically. Google has shifted much of its attention to the overall user experience.

So, beyond creating high-quality, relevant content that meets the Google E-E-A-T system’s standards, you should also ensure your content is user-friendly. If your site is constantly bombarding users with aggressive ads, pop-ups, and auto-playing videos, it will be difficult to reach high positions on SERPs.

It’s also worth mentioning that the rise in the use of AI technologies has had a considerable impact on Google’s standards for E-E-A-T. For one, content creators who rely solely on AI-generated content often lack the unique value that only comes from hands-on experience. This is why Google prioritizes content that exhibits the Experience aspect of the E-E-A-T criteria. 

Google is expected to keep its focus on experience-based content well into the foreseeable future. This could take the form of a 30-second video, an in-depth article, or something in between. 

Moreover, with its March 2024 spam update, Google points out that producing content at scale (through AI tools, human efforts, or some combination of both) with the primary goal of manipulating search engine rankings is a spammy practice. So, instead of creating swathes of unoriginal content, your best bet is to create less content that matches E-E-A-T criteria (especially Experience).

For the reasons mentioned above, it is no surprise that UGC platforms like Quora have witnessed an increase in popularity. Human experience has recently begun to play an even more significant role. This holds true now even if the content is shared in unexpected or hard-to-find places (e.g., a comment in a forum thread, a post on a little-known blog, or an article whose author has unique expertise on a topic). In fact, rewarding personal insights and experiences from social media blog posts, forums, and third-party review websites is a central idea of the “hidden gems” ranking system released in 2023.

To encourage more people to share personal experiences on search, Google launched a new opt-in experiment in Search Labs called Notes. With Notes, which are crawlable and indexable, users can share their thoughts and experiences on a particular article or topic. This enables you to exchange ideas and experiences with others.

Now, let’s review Google’s second key concept—YMYL.

YMYL in a nutshell

Some topics can impact a user’s health, financial well-being, and safety. Google refers to them as Your Money or Your Life topics, or YMYL for short. Dedicated raters conduct thorough checks on YMYL sites to make sure they don’t contain inaccurate information and are not harmful to users.

Google broadly categorizes these topics as Clear YMYL, May Be YMYL, or Not or Unlikely YMYL, depending on how likely they are to cause harm. Most topics are considered non-YMYL by default and do not require higher attention to accuracy or trustworthiness.

Google’s guidelines define a topic as YMYL if it can potentially affect:

  • Health or safety: mental, physical, and emotional health; any form of safety.
  • Financial security: a person’s ability to provide for themselves and their families.
  • Society: perception of groups of people, issues of public interest, trust in public institutions.
  • Other: any topics where inaccurate info could harm people or worsen their well-being.

Harmful pages can still exist within non-harmful topics. These pages should be flagged as low quality and potentially harmful, even if the website has a generally positive reputation.

How E-E-A-T and YMYL are connected

To begin with, all websites should aim for the highest E-E-A-T possible for them. But the higher the YMYL “degree” you have, the more scrupulous Google will be when assessing your E-E-A-T and ensuring user safety.

Consider the following example: a website for an accountancy firm publishes tax planning and investment advice. Users who end up on this website should be confident that the advice it provides won’t lead to poor financial decisions or financial loss.

Generally, only individuals or organizations with appropriate financial expertise and accreditation should produce tax advice or materials on other YMYL topics. However, there are some exceptions, (i.e. when authors share personal stories or experiences). Materials like “How I earned my first million” or “How we manage taxes in our company” are considered everyday expertise in Google YMYL topics and require less formal credentials.

But if you produce content (especially on YMYL topics) and don’t follow Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines, your site’s search visibility on Google for important keywords may fall short. Always prioritize your users’ well-being and consider any of the potential effects your content may have on them. In fact, make sure all YMYL information on your site is carefully fact-checked. If you need to address potentially harmful topics, be sure to warn people about their potential risks and the negative consequences associated with them.

We explore the process of creating high-quality content and many other essential topics in our SEO Content Writing Course. Don’t miss the opportunity to take your content strategy to the next level – check it out and enroll today!

How to optimize E-E-A-T on YMYL pages 

Producing high-quality content can be a difficult task all on its own, but ensuring your website is trustworthy for visitors adds an extra layer of complexity, especially for webmasters who produce YMYL content. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to optimize web pages for better E-E-A-T.

  • Create unique content tailored for people instead of search engines. To convince Google that you’re an expert, you have to provide valuable information within your field or niche. Also, you’ll need to optimize your content for a positive user experience by ensuring it is well-organized and easy to navigate. This often involves incorporating UX design elements into your content.

To streamline the content creation and optimization process, tools like Content Editor can be a huge help. This tool allows you to compare your content against your closest competitors and make optimizations based on these insights. It provides in-depth recommendations for improving keyword usage, increasing readability, avoiding spam words, ensuring content uniqueness, and more.

But if you hit a content creation wall, consider incorporating tools like AI Writer into your routine. This tool, in particular, can provide inspiring ideas that you can use as starting points for future content pieces in your area of expertise/experience. 

Here are some important YMYL best practices to consider: 

  • Maintain author visibility. Readers won’t trust your YMYL content if you don’t at least reveal the author’s basic credentials. Readers will want to know who created the article and whether they are trustworthy or not. According to Google’s guidelines, all site pages should contain information about who is responsible for the website and who created the content on the page (individual, company, business, foundation, etc.).
  • Create separate pages for individual authors and content creators. These pages should contain biographical information, links to their social media accounts or personal websites, CVs, or professional certificates as proof of reputation. Utilizing Author Schema is a great way to display author information and expedite search engine indexing. Also, don’t forget to link between pages featuring content from the same author. Ideally, you should add the following information about content creators: job title, summary of their expertise, detailed bio, educational background, features in other publications, and recent posts. 
  • Get mentions on authoritative sites. Implementing a smart link-building strategy can significantly improve your website’s reputation, both from a technical standpoint and in the eyes of your readers. This means that a link from a highly authoritative website will pass some of its authority and brand recognition to another website. While building high-quality backlinks to the content itself should be your priority in the context of Google E-E-A-T, obtaining backlinks to your author’s pages is also a good idea. Find websites that have a special bio section and arrange it to get backlinks to your author’s page.
  • Add trust factors throughout the site. Trust factors are website elements that increase trustworthiness for users and search engines. Incorporate relevant trust factors that provide value to visitors. For example, create and update an About Us page by highlighting your achievements, adding certificates and diplomas, displaying a portfolio, and sharing real customer reviews. 
  • Fact-check and cite sources. Back up your claims with reliable sources like government websites, authoritative studies, and research papers. Don’t forget to attribute statistical data to its original source.
  • Provide contact information. Make it easy for users to reach you in case they have any questions. You could use contact forms, email addresses, and social media links for this purpose. Plus, ensure your NAP data is consistent across your website, social media accounts, and business listings. Tools like the Local Marketing Tool can help you verify and manage your local NAPs, business listings, and reviews all in one centralized location 

Once you have finished optimizing your website’s content for E-E-A-T principles, make sure to track your rankings using a specialized tool. Rank Tracker, for example, provides precise daily ranking updates. This reveals the correlations between your optimization efforts and ranking dynamics.

The evolution of E-E-A-T and YMYL

The acronym used to be E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). It first appeared in 2014 when Google introduced its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. The concept was vague back then, and it wasn’t clear how Google would use qualitative factors when calculating quantitative rankings. And while users sought explanations, Google remained short on answers.

“The amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness is very important”—Google.

Since 2018, seven major updates focused on E-E-A-T and YMYL have been released: 

  • In August 2018, Google rolled out a massive core algorithm update. It was primarily related to Google’s ability to determine the E-A-T score and identify the most trustworthy websites.
  • In June 2019, another major update impacted the perception of E-A-T. Several websites with high authority scores experienced a significant drop in rankings shortly after the update. It led to the assumption that E-A-T can be assessed at the URL level rather than for the entire domain. This suggested that E-A-T belonged to Google’s list of essential page quality parameters. 
  • In October 2020, Google made some important edits to the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. It clarified that E-A-T ratings do not directly influence the order of search results. The guidelines also emphasized how important it is to understand user intent and queries for accurate ratings. 
  • In October 2021, Google introduced more changes to the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. The YMYL category received expanded definitions and guidance on how to research websites and the reputation of content creators. Furthermore, Google updated and clarified the “Lowest Page Quality” section.
  • Another major E-E-A-T update happened in July 2022. It clarified the YMYL classification (Clear YMYL, May Be YMYL, or Not or Unlikely YMYL). It also provided more examples and explanations into determining YMYL status. The update also clarified that the level of E-A-T depends on the page’s purpose, so all website types have the potential to be considered low-quality or harmful.
  • The next major update to the Quality Rater Guidelines happened in December 2022. In this update, the E-A-T framework gained an additional component called Experience, which changed the acronym to E-E-A-T. In other words, Google started paying more attention to whether content demonstrates firsthand experience (e.g., using a product, visiting a place, sharing personal experiences, and so on). 
  • Finally, the most recent E-E-A-T update to the Quality Rater Guidelines happened in November 2023. As a result of this update, Google simplified “the Needs Met scale definitions, added more guidance for different kinds of web pages, removed outdated and redundant examples, and expanded rating guidance for forum and discussion pages.” It also added more examples of newer content formats like short-form videos.

Even today, E-E-A-T and YMYL still remain a hot debate topic. But while the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines provide valuable information on E-E-A-T, they are intended as working documents for evaluators—not as actual guidebooks. 

Make sure to use this information with caution.

Final thoughts

Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness are important for determining page quality. While these factors aren’t direct ranking signals, they have a profound impact on a page’s ranking potential. E-E-A-T parameters are especially important for YMYL content, which has a direct impact on people’s health, well-being, and safety.

To increase the likelihood of your content ranking well, it is important to establish a clear purpose. Try to figure out how to create content that provides the most benefit to your users, then start working on authority and increasing your content’s trustworthiness.





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