E-E-A-T’s Google Ranking Influence Decoded

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The notion that an element isn’t a ranking factor yet influences website rankings may appear logically contradictory. However, recent remarks from SearchLiaison shed light on understanding and implementing E-A-T principles in SEO, offering valuable insights into resolving this seeming paradox.

What A Googler Said About E-E-A-T

Marie Haynes shared a YouTube video excerpt featuring a Google representative emphasizing the paramount importance of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). The speaker highlighted that E-A-T has been a fundamental consideration at Google for over a decade, aimed at ensuring users access safe and valuable content. The principles of E-A-T guide the evaluation of every website, for every search query, indicating its pervasive influence in Google’s ranking process.

The speaker particularly emphasized the significance of E-A-T in “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) queries, such as those related to financial decisions or health concerns, where the potential impact on users is substantial. While acknowledging the heightened importance of E-A-T in such critical queries, the speaker reiterated that E-A-T principles apply universally to all search queries.

The apparent contradiction lies in the fact that although E-A-T is integral to evaluating search results for relevance and usefulness to users, it’s not a direct ranking factor like traditional metrics such as keywords or backlinks. Instead, it serves as a guiding principle for assessing content quality and ensuring user trust and satisfaction. Therefore, while E-A-T influences search results, it operates differently from typical ranking factors, making it crucial yet distinct in Google’s ranking methodology.

Background, Experience & Expertise In Google Circa 2012

In 2012, Google’s senior engineer, Matt Cutts, stressed the importance of experience and expertise in contributing to the quality of content, thus making it deserving of ranking. Cutts discussed this perspective in an interview with Eric Enge, specifically addressing the scenario of a hypothetical individual, “Jane,” and whether her website merits ranking alongside similar content already present in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Cutts noted that while Jane’s content may not be outright duplicates, if it fails to offer substantial differentiation or novelty compared to existing results, Google’s algorithms would likely prioritize displaying only one of these similar pages to users. He emphasized the need for website owners, like Jane, to identify their unique value proposition and articulate what sets them apart.

Moreover, Cutts highlighted the importance of expertise and background knowledge in producing valuable content. He cautioned that if Jane is merely producing superficial articles without genuine expertise or experience in the subject matter, searchers may not find her content as compelling or trustworthy.

Therefore, Cutts’ remarks underscore the significance of providing meaningful contributions and demonstrating expertise in content creation to enhance its relevance and value for users, ultimately impacting its potential for ranking in search results.

In further illustrating the importance of background, experience, and expertise in content creation, Matt Cutts referenced the renowned movie critic Roger Ebert as an exemplar whose expert opinions elevate the quality and relevance of his content, thereby warranting its ranking.

While Cutts did not assert that an author’s background, experience, and expertise directly influence ranking, he emphasized that these factors serve to differentiate one webpage from another, aligning it with Google’s ranking criteria. Cutts suggested that Google’s algorithms are designed to identify unique qualities that distinguish a webpage and contribute to its value to users.

Despite Cutts’ remarks dating back to 2012, the underlying principle remains consistent. Google’s John Mueller reiterated similar sentiments in 2020, emphasizing the importance of differentiation and compelling content in catching Google’s attention and potentially improving a webpage’s ranking. This continuity underscores the enduring significance of creating valuable, distinctive content that resonates with users and aligns with Google’s ranking objectives.

In light of this, if your focus lies on a limited pool of content that mirrors what’s widely available, it’s imperative to seek ways to distinguish yourself significantly. This differentiation is crucial to convey that your website offers something markedly distinct from the myriad of similar platforms out there, particularly in the realm of ringtone websites where content can often be uniform.

This advice holds true for any website offering similar services as others. It’s essential to ensure that what you provide is not only unique but also compelling and of high quality. This uniqueness is what prompts both our algorithms and users to recognize your site as a destination worth visiting, offering something exclusive that can’t be found elsewhere on the web.

In a 2021 discussion regarding Google’s indexing process, Mueller also emphasized the importance of content differentiation, asking whether the content in question is truly innovative or merely another iteration of the same concept.

This emphasis on being compelling and distinct from other sites has long been a cornerstone of Google’s algorithm, echoing sentiments expressed by various Google representatives over time, including the speaker in the video, Matt Cutts, and Mueller himself.

Are they referring to signals?

E-EA-T Algorithm Signals

We’re aware that Google’s algorithm considers factors related to an individual’s expertise and background. Now, let’s delve into the next step and decipher its implications.

Some time ago, I came across Marie Haynes discussing E-A-T, referring to it as a framework. It struck me as an intriguing conceptualization of E-A-T.

Traditionally, when SEOs tackled E-A-T, their focus centered on how to demonstrate it effectively. This often led them to scrutinize the Quality Raters Guide for insights, a logical approach given its purpose as a guiding document.

However, I posit that the true essence of E-A-T isn’t solely found within guidelines or the criteria used by quality raters.

To illustrate, let’s consider the cornerstone of Google’s algorithm: relevance.

What does relevance entail? Is it a requisite aspect? In the past, it revolved around keywords, which was straightforward for SEO professionals to grasp. However, the landscape has shifted away from keyword-centric approaches, thanks to Google’s algorithm integrating natural language understanding (NLU). NLU empowers machines to comprehend language as it is naturally spoken.

So, relevance essentially signifies being connected or associated with something else. For instance, if one asks, “How do I quench my thirst?” the response could be “water,” as it effectively satisfies thirst.

How does a website demonstrate relevance to the search query: “How do I quench my thirst?”

An SEO analyst might address the relevance challenge by emphasizing the necessity for the webpage to incorporate keywords matching the search query, specifically “quench” and “thirst.”

Subsequently, the SEO analyst would proceed to identify related entities associated with “quench” and “thirst,” recognizing the importance of entity research in crafting a webpage that effectively addresses the search query, “How do I quench my thirst?”

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario involving related entities such as thirst and satiation. When we think of thirst, we naturally associate it with concepts like water, dehydration, and the act of drinking. On the other hand, satiation brings to mind food, satisfaction, quenching, fulfillment, and appeasement.

Now, imagine an SEO strategist armed with these entities and their associated keywords. Their task is to craft a 600-word essay that incorporates all these elements to ensure their webpage ranks high for the search query, “How do I satiate my thirst?”

But let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the absurdity of this exercise. If someone were to ask you how to satiate their thirst, your instinctive response would likely be “with water” or perhaps “with a cold, refreshing beverage.” This instinctual reaction embodies the essence of relevance.

Relevance, however, transcends the mere manipulation of entities and keywords. In today’s search landscape, where algorithms increasingly understand natural language, true relevance lies in providing meaningful answers to user queries.

Similarly, concepts like E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) are not contingent on superficial markers such as author bios or LinkedIn profiles. Merely peppering content with references to product handling does little to enhance credibility.

In essence, both relevance and E-A-T are more nuanced than they appear at first glance. They are not checkboxes to be ticked off but rather guiding principles that underscore the importance of genuine engagement and expertise in online content.

SearchLiaison recently addressed the topic of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), SEO, and ranking, emphasizing that simply mentioning a “rigorous testing process” or adhering to an “E-A-T checklist” doesn’t ensure a top ranking or guarantee improved performance for a webpage.

However, they further elucidated the significance of E-A-T by stating that it reflects a concept that aligns with their approach to ranking quality content. This acknowledgment underscores the importance of E-A-T as a guiding principle in the evaluation and ranking of online content.

E-E-A-T Can’t Be Itemized On A Checklist

As we previously discussed, it’s important to understand that relevance isn’t simply a matter of incorporating specific keywords and entities. Instead, it’s about providing answers that directly address the query at hand.

Similarly, E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) operates on a similar principle. It’s not merely a checklist of actions to take; rather, it’s more akin to a fundamental aspect of your identity.

In further explanation, SearchLiaison clarifies:

“Our automated systems don’t assess a page and automatically favor claims like ‘I tested this!’ simply because they’re present. Rather, the principles of E-A-T are tied to the inherent usefulness of content as perceived by users. Ultimately, our automated systems prioritize actions that benefit users, leveraging various indicators to do so.”

A Better Understanding Of E-E-A-T

The clarification is apparent now: E-A-T isn’t a feature that you add onto a webpage or something visibly demonstrated within it. Rather, it’s a conceptual framework, akin to relevance.

A helpful analogy is imagining someone asking you a question about your family, and you responding with your knowledge and experience. In most cases, people are naturally adept enough to provide a relevant and insightful answer. This essence of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) should underpin content creation, whether it’s Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) material or a product review. Just like answering a question about your family, expertise in content is inherently woven into its fabric—it’s a concept rather than a tangible addition.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal