you are what you E-A-T

November 2, 2021

written by
Andrew Levine

SEO and Google’s consideration of expertise, authority & trustworthiness as a ranking factor

Reportedly, Google makes over 500 updates to their search engine’s algorithm per year. Some of these are big changes that send a shockwave through the search traffic reports of many a website, while most are so inconsequential that even the most observant of search engine optimizers fail to notice their implementation. With all of these updates, it may seem daunting to keep up with how to get the best exposure in Google’s organic search results. But I’m here to tell you that – as always – you really only have to remember the one guiding principle of Google: Google wants its users to get the best search experience. If you remember that above all, everything else is intuitive.

Now “the best search experience” may seem like a vague concept. Allow me to clarify with a real-life example. You want to buy a cake for your wedding. You google “best wedding cake bakery near me”. Now a “bad” search experience would be if the top results weren’t bakeries, were bakeries but didn’t offer wedding cakes, or were bakeries but weren’t anywhere near you. A “good” search experience would be if the top results were indeed all bakeries that offer wedding cakes and are in fact near your current location. But (perhaps) the “best” search experience would be if the top results were the bakeries that offer the very best wedding cakes near your current location.


Now if all of this talk about wedding cake has made you hungry – good. Let’s E-A-T.

If you’re going to order a cake for your wedding, who’s advice are you going to trust more? A world-renowned pastry chef or the number one trial lawyer in the United States? Nothing against attorneys, but my bet is that the better advice on this matter is coming from the pastry chef. So apply that to Google’s guiding principle of wanting users to get the best search experience and you’re well on your way to intuiting what E-A-T means in terms of Search Engine Optimization.


What is E-A-T in SEO?

E-A-T comes from Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines where it discusses overall page quality rating:

The amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important. Please consider:

  • The expertise of the creator of the MC [Main Content].
  • The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
  • The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.

Okay. So E-A-T is an acronym – you get it – but you’re thinking, “Don’t those three words essentially mean the same thing?” Well yeah… but no. Not exactly. Not in Googlish. Fortunately, I have a Google-to-English dictionary…

Expertise is evaluated on the content-level. Google is attempting to determine the expertise of the author of the content. If the content is about wedding cakes, was it written by that world-renowned pastry chef or the trial lawyer?

Authoritativeness looks at the website the content appears on as a whole and asks the question: Is this a go-to site for information relevant to what is being queried on Google? Authoritativeness is also determined by reputation signals independent of the author and website the content appears on. Are other websites recognizing this website as an authority on the subject? Is that wedding cake content appearing on Wedding Cake Weekly’s website – my hypothetical website that we can imagine is the Wikipedia for wedding cakes? Or is it appearing on the Confederated Union of Trial Lawyers website? 

Trustworthiness considers the accuracy of the content. How reliable are the sources? How forthcoming is the site with contact information? Does the site state who is responsible for the content that is published? So maybe our wedding cake content was written by a reputable local baker who 1) cited much of the content to that world-renowned pastry chef and 2) provided clear contact information to reach out to the local baker.


How to Improve E-A-T

While there is no E-A-T score that can be empirically measured, you can certainly make efforts to demonstrate your site’s and your author’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

  1. Show your contact details. Simple, right? Address, phone number, email address, and a point of contact. I bet your site already does this.
  2. Hire and/or interview bonafide subject-matter experts to write your content and show off their credentials.
  3. Link building and mentions from relevant, authoritative websites. Do you want to demonstrate your authority? Have other authorities reference you and your website.
  4. Don’t let your content become obsolete and inaccurate. You don’t want to have your website mislead people because your content contains out-of-date and thus incorrect information.
  5. Factcheck your content. Your content cannot be trustworthy if it contains factual errors.
  6. Get positive online reviews on relevant review sites that people trust.
  7. If applicable, get a Wikipedia article written about your business and/or your expert(s). Tread carefully here though as it is a violation of Wikipedia’s policies to write articles about yourself.


Would you like help to demonstrate your E-A-T signals? As always, the bonafide experts (and wedding cake enthusiasts) at 300FeetOut are at your service.

Andrew Levine is 300FeetOut’s “SEO Commodore” with over two decades of experience in search engine optimization and website marketing. If you have any questions about SEO or have extra wedding cake to share, he can be reached at [email protected].