If you want to improve your organic performance, E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trust) is something all marketers and business owners need to be aware of.
As Google develops its algorithms to prioritise helpful, people-first content, E-E-A-T factors are essential to get right.
This is especially important for YMYL brands. This stands for ‘Your Money or Your Life’, and refers to topics where the information can affect someone’s mental, physical or financial wellbeing.
If your brand falls under this category, we recommend performing an E-E-A-T audit as a priority. If not, enhancing E-E-A-T is still beneficial for all websites.
It’s important to note that E-E-A-T isn’t a direct ranking factor. There’s no score or metric to aim towards. However, Google’s algorithms do take these factors into account when ranking pages, according to Google’s helpful content guidance.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to perform an in-depth E-E-A-T audit, including a downloadable E-E-A-T SEO checklist. As a result, you’ll be able to increase the quality of your content, and make Google more likely to prioritise you in search results.
Downloadable E-E-A-T SEO Checklist (Google Sheet)
Fill out the form below to download your own copy of the checklist!
With this checklist, you can audit your site, discover your strengths and find opportunities for improvement. Not only that, we’ve included suggested actions so you can start making changes right away.
What Do the Google E-E-A-T Guidelines Say?
In 2022, Google introduced guidelines for creating helpful, reliable, people-first content. To prioritise this kind of content, Google systems take into account lots of factors under the E-E-A-T umbrella.
According to this guidance, trust is the most important factor, because this overlaps with the three other parts of the acronym: experience, expertise and authority.
They clarify that E-E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor or score. Rather, it’s a collection of factors that can benefit your rankings, especially for YMYL sites.
Search quality raters are actual people employed by Google to review the quality of search results. These assessments are then fed back to inform future algorithm changes.
Google publishes their guidelines for search quality raters, which offers a glimpse into the kind of content they deem to be high-quality. And, tellingly, this ‘high quality’ content always meets E-E-A-T best practices.
Based on these guidelines, below is a summary of what we recommend to include in your E-E-A-T SEO audit.
E-E-A-T On-Page Content Checklist
Do you display user reviews on your website? This can help build trust with both users and search engines. Alternatively, you can pull in reviews from third-party sites like TrustPilot.
Reviews are a crucial part of the ecommerce journey. For SaaS and service-based sites, case studies can add additional depth.
External Links to Authority Sites
When mentioning a statistic or fact on your website, do you link out to the original source? By this, we mean the primary source, not second-hand reporting. This helps users feel confident that the information you’re providing is accurate and fact-checked.
For example, you may wish to link out to government web pages and academic research papers.
About Us Page
According to the search quality rater guidelines, it should be clear who is responsible for your website. In other words, who owns and runs the site.
An About Us page is a great way to demonstrate this. On the page, answer these questions:
- Who runs the business and/or website?
- What experience and qualifications do they have?
- What is your brand story?
- Why are you trustworthy – have you won awards, for example?
Likewise, Google’s guidelines state it should be clear who creates the content on the site. The easiest way to do this is by creating author pages, and linking to them from blog posts.
On these author pages, include who the author is, what they do, their qualifications and experience. Prioritise the latter if the topic requires first-hand experience. For example, it’s ideal to have a parent writing a parenting blog.
In terms of where to put these on the website, the logical way to do this is by creating a ‘Meet the Team’ page, and linking to the individual author pages from this.
Are there any factual errors in your content? Or spelling and grammar mistakes? First, make sure you correct these errors.
Then, build out robust editorial processes, so you can prevent future inaccuracies. Establish who will be writing, editing and fact checking each piece of content.
Is the content on your site regularly refreshed and updated? Google wants to prioritise content that reflects the ‘current expert consensus’. By this, they mean the most up-to-date information possible.
If you’re in an industry with rapid change, like education, you need to regularly review your existing blog posts. This will ensure you’re providing users with accurate information and prevent content decay. Perhaps you can agree to review your content on a quarterly or yearly basis as part of your content plan.
Is any of your content misleading? For example, do you have clickbait titles that don’t deliver on the title’s promise in the content? All content should serve its purpose and not mislead users, otherwise it appears untrustworthy.
Do you have policy pages for privacy, returns and terms and conditions? If users are buying from your site, they need to be able to trust you, especially if they’re entering payment details. It gives them confidence that their information, data and money is safe.
In addition, is there a page outlining the site’s editorial policy? This should detail who writes and fact-checks the content.
If your business has won any awards, are these mentioned on the website? This is one way you can demonstrate authority.
You could mention your awards on your About Us page and author pages, for example. Also, you could include awards badges in the footer of your site.
E-E-A-T Off-Page Checklist
Do you have any recent online media coverage? And, if so, is this coverage positive or negative? Positive news coverage is a trust signal for users and search quality raters. If you have no online press, you may want to consider investing in a Digital PR service.
As well as on-site reviews, do you have reviews on third-party sites like TrustPilot and Clutch? Users will likely search for reviews before buying a product, especially if it’s a high-value purchase, so it’s advisable to encourage these reviews from customers.
Do you have social media profiles set up? To be clear, social media does not directly impact Google search rankings. However, it does help users trust that your business is real and legitimate.
Backlinks are the number one way to establish authority on search engines. They act as a ‘vote of trust’, because you’ve been cited as a reliable source of information.
Unlike other E-E-A-T factors, they can directly influence your search rankings, too.
On the flip side, ‘black hat’ link building – such as buying links in bulk – can make your website appear untrustworthy. Worst case, a clear pattern of “unnatural, artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links” can lead to a manual action from Google. This will make some (or all) of your website disappear from search results altogether.
A Knowledge Panel appears in Google search results if you’re searching for an entity. Again, this is another trust signal for users and quality raters.
You can’t apply for a Knowledge Panel – Google will just choose whether you get one or not, based on how authoritative you are. All the aforementioned off-page factors can help you secure one, but this may take some time to achieve.
Read More: Entities in SEO and the Future of Search
E-E-A-T Technical Checklist
Author Structured Data
In addition to creating author pages, adding author structured data to articles is beneficial for E-E-A-T. That’s because it explicitly states to Google who the author of the content is, so there’s no ambiguity.
Learn more about Google’s author markup best practices to get started.
reviewedBy Structured Data
Similar to author schema, reviewedBy schema explicitly tells Google who has reviewed the content of a page. This is ideal to include if you’re getting experts to review and fact-check your content.
Organisation Structured Data
Organisation schema helps Google with entity recognition. It provides Google with useful context about your organisation, so it can establish you as an entity. As a result, it can encourage Google to create a Knowledge Panel for your brand.
Citations Structured Data
As previously mentioned, you should be citing any external sources in your content. For example, academic papers and articles from thought leaders. Citation schema explicitly tells Google that you’re backing up your content with authoritative sources.
By using this schema type, you can also position your brand in relation to authoritative entities – brands, organisations, people – which can increase your trustworthiness.
Industry-Specific E-E-A-T Considerations
As well as the above checklist, there are some industry-specific considerations when it comes to E-E-A-T.
Ideally, medical content should be written by accredited experts. At the very least, it should be reviewed by an expert, and this should be clearly stated on the page.
It should also be written in a professional style, so try and avoid humorous and conversational language where possible. (You can learn more about this in our guide to finding your tone of voice).
Not only that, you should review your content regularly to make sure it reflects the current expert consensus. Medical information changes rapidly, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest changes.
E-E-A-T is absolutely essential for health websites. As marketers and business owners, we need to be incredibly careful about the information we publish online, so it doesn’t harm anyone’s physical or mental wellbeing.
Likewise, finance related content should be reviewed by qualified experts. Because of this, authorship and About Us pages are key in this industry.
Financial regulations change frequently, so make sure you’re regularly reviewing your content and staying abreast of the news.
Someone could make a life-changing financial decision based on your content, so it’s important that what you publish is accurate and fact-checked thoroughly.
Home, Garden, Hobbies, Real Estate, Parenting
These topics aren’t as high risk as finance or healthcare. However, you’ll still need to consider E-E-A-T as part of your SEO strategy for these sites.
Here, you need to determine whether someone with personal experience of the subject needs to be writing the content. For example, if you’re giving advice to parents, it makes sense that this should come from someone with children.
You may not need people with expert accreditations to write content in these areas. For example, you don’t need a qualified expert to write about arts and crafts for kids. However, first-hand experience can be very beneficial.
Citations are especially important for STEM topics, so make sure you’re backing up your points with external links to authority sources. You could link to academic papers, or even get expert quotes from primary sources.
Authorship is also very important in STEM. Are you getting an expert to write the content, or are they at least fact checking the information?
E-E-A-T isn’t something marketers and business owners can ignore in 2023. If you want to succeed in search, it’s crucial that you meet best practices, especially for YMYL topics.
Thankfully, optimising for E-E-A-T can be easily incorporated into your everyday processes.
Download our E-E-A-T SEO checklist today to get started on your audit. Or, alternatively, consult an SEO agency to create and execute a plan.
Liam is an SEO Team Leader with a background in journalism. They’re passionate about E-A-T, ethical SEO and devising content strategies that get clients results.