03/07/19 // Written by Samantha Beckham

One year on: what have we learnt from the E-A-T update?

To talk about the world of SEO in 2019, we need to mention what happened in 2018. Google’s E-A-T update was one of the major events of the year; part of a long line of changes to how Google ranks websites, we’re still feeling the effects of it today. Google’s entire purpose is to understand what a user wants and to successfully satisfy that query, with the fundamentals of E-A-T designed to help website owners do just that.

What is the E-A-T update?

First off, this update isn’t new. Google actually overhauled their guidelines in July 2018, rolling out a broad algorithm update which essentially means multiple changes. The most recent of these took place at the beginning of June 2019 and you can read more about it here. Although the following E-A-T markers were already mentioned in Google Guidelines, their importance has significantly increased.

The E-A-T markers are:

  • Expertise: The level of knowledge the site owner or author possesses on the topic
  • Authority: The credibility of the website publishing the content (this also includes credentials, testimonials and reviews)
  • Trust: The site quality and security, reflecting how trustworthy the website is

In short, the update is all about Google ranking your website based on whether you are a credible source and a user can trust you. There’s no doubt the E-A-T update has affected websites far and wide, but a general takeaway has been the particular impact on YMYL (Your Money Your Life) industries. It was found that SERPs linked to specific industries, including Motoring, Jobs, Forex, Insurance and Finance, were heavily impacted.

Now that a year has passed, we’re sharing what we’ve learned, how it’s redefined our approach to content, and what you can do to ensure your content strategy is still effective.

What Does The E-A-T Update Mean for Your Content Strategy?

As Google release each update, your content strategy must be reviewed. Google doesn’t like to share too much information in relation to their updates. Ben Gomes, VP of Search at Google said“You can view the rater guidelines as where we want the search algorithm to go. They don’t tell you how the algorithm is ranking results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do.”

Although Google doesn’t openly share the recipe for success, they do provide the ingredients to make necessary changes. We took the time to work out what the impact of this announcement would be and how we could help our client’s content continue to rank well. Developing a whole new approach to content, we’ve summarised our pointers here:

  • Purpose of the page: Does the page meet the needs and satisfy the user’s query? In terms of SEO, this helps us decide what page we want to rank for what phrases. However, it’s important to be mindful that when optimising a page for a keyword or phrase, it won’t necessarily be done in E-A-T style. Instead, it’s the depth and coverage of questions and answers that differentiates E-A-T from previous content forms. In order to rank for longer tail phrases, you need web pages that cover the topic in more detail. 
  • Expertise, authoritativeness and trust: Does the page project each of these? We’ve spent a lot of time working alongside our content writers to create revised content structures. As well as answering “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” questions, you must also answer questions honestly and give comprehensive coverage of a topic to show balance across your webpages. For example, advising people when a certain credit card may not be a good option for them. This is a critical factor of being viewed as a balanced, trustworthy website and you must adopt the mindset of informing users first and selling to them second. 
  • Content quality and amount: Does the content provide depth? Rich content is often an indication of writing high quality, informative material but your core aim shouldn’t be to write lengthy pieces. Generally, when writing E-A-T content, you will be researching a topic in enough depth to ensure that each area is answered with the aim to satisfy the user’s query.
  • Website information and author: Do you provide information on the person who wrote the content? Google guidelines advise screeners to research specific writers and see if they’ve been cited in the topic previously. 
  • Web reputation: When considering reputation, we typically think more along the lines of authority, this can be built-up through targeted outreach. Back links are a reputable signal that Google uses to understand the authority of a website. You should always be mindful of where your links come from, for example, a link from a trusted source such as the BBC is more valuable than a personal, low-traffic blog. This is something that we cover extensively in our targeted outreach strategies, aiming to obtain links from niche, relevant and authoritative websites.

Although Google had been making changes to how it views content prior to the E-A-T update roll out, it is now a central focus to their algorithm, with the consequences of not meeting guidelines being much more punitive than before. Our approach is proving to work well, with minimal negative impact to our client’s rankings following the latest E-A-T updates earlier last month. Today, the top priority for your content should be to inform and educate the user about their query topic in a structured, easy to absorb format that clearly identifies the purpose of the page.

There are many steps you can take to boost quality and rank higher on Google, but whichever direction you choose, it’s clear that high quality content has never been more important than it is today. Contact us to find out more about our approach to E-A-T and how we can help you.