If you're a marketer or website owner, you've probably heard of Google's E-E-A-T score. But what exactly is it, and why is it so crucial for your SEO?
Here’s what you need to know about optimizing your website for the E-E-A-T score, with practical examples I use for my own website:
When assessing your website’s credibility and quality, Google uses a rating system:
Then, it generates qualitative scores to compare websites and decide how they should rank.
Google’s breakdown of the key trust signals
In short: Google wants to identify trustworthy websites that are the go-to sources for specific topics, with knowledgeable authors and/or authors who have personal experience with the target topic.
For example, it’d give more trust to a BBQ techniques article from a website specializing in BBQ than a website covering everything from the environment to BBQ.
The E-A-T score is vital for the YMYL (your-money-your-life) niches that deal with highly-sensitive topics, such as legal and medical.
How Google evaluates YMYL websites
Let’s take a medical clinic as an example:
- Expertise: The clinic's website includes detailed information about the staff’s qualifications and experience, and about the clinic's accreditation and certifications. The site has plenty of information about the treatments and procedures they offer.
- Authoritativeness: You’ll see positive reviews and testimonials from patients. The clinic will also have a positive reputation within the community, having received awards and coverage in relevant journals and media websites.
- Trustworthiness: The website shows information about the clinic's policies and procedures, as well as information about patient rights.
In 2022, Google added an extra ‘e’ to its Search Quality Rater Guidelines: experience.
As explained in the update, the new ‘E’ prioritizes content where the author has first-hand experience with the topic they’re writing about.
For example, suppose you’re reviewing hiking backpacks. Do you have actual experience with them, or are you just sourcing information online? If it’s the latter, your content might be deprioritized.
Since E-E-A-T is a qualitative score, it’s not something you can measure easily. However, other SEOs and I believe the following criteria are good proxies for signals that go into the E-E-A-T score:
- Who is the author?
- What does the author’s digital footprint look like? E.g., Have they often written about this topic?
- Does the author have education or experience in the topic?
- How often is the author mentioned in relation to these topics?
- Is the author quoted as a subject matter expert or mentioned on other websites relevant to the topic?
- Does the website have author boxes or pages to show who wrote the content and why they should be trusted?
- Is the content updated and refreshed with new information when needed?
- Is the website’s user experience good, as demonstrated by metrics like CTR and time-on-page?
- How popular is the website in the niche, i.e., how often do other websites in the industry reference it?
- Does the website cover this content piece’s target topic often? E.g., Is topic X the main topic for this website?
Google’s content quality checklist is a great starting point. But, in practice, I’ve learned that you should do the following to increase your content’s E-E-A-T score:
Incorporate personal experiences: Write or work with writers who understand your topic and have boots-on-the-ground experience.
- For example, if you own a hiking eCommerce store, work with writers who are passionate hikers.
Scrap shallow content only meant to hit specific keywords: If your content can’t provide a unique and helpful perspective on the topic that makes the reader know what to do next, take a rain check.
- Focus on the topics you can cover in-depth to build your topical authority.
Go beyond the basic sources to provide original analyses: Google can’t be your only source. Add more value to the discussion with each article you post:
- Tap into social media and forums.
- Talk to experts.
- Conduct original research. (Great for getting more backlinks.)
Aim to delight: Make readers want to:
- Bookmark your content (comprehensive guide with handy comparison tables and summaries), or
- Share it (unique angle), or
- Recommend it to others (new insights).
- Fact-check the claims in your content to increase the knowledge-based trust score.
- Incorporate examples.
Make authorship over each article clear.
If you work with ghostwriters, review the article for accuracy and explain your credentials with author boxes or author pages.
For example, WebMD (YMYL niche) mentions the writers and the professionals who reviewed the article for accuracy.
When you click through on their names, you’ll be taken to detailed author pages:
Author boxes are a quicker fix, and I personally prefer them for our SEO Academy:
Backlinks have always mattered, but to increase your E-E-A-T score, you’ll need to appear in other trustworthy channels about your topic, including:
- YouTube videos
For example, I’ve been interviewed:
YouTube-chatted with Tekpon about growing your traffic:
(And SiteGuru was even featured in a rap once.)
This expands your digital footprint so that Google can easily find other signals showing why searchers should trust your content.
I bet you have plenty of pages or articles you created to target specific keywords and then just kept targeting new ones. As time passes, the older content will get outdated and de-ranked in the SERPs.
If you want to optimize your E-E-A-T score, review your older content and add new information as soon as it appears.
Find content that might be outdated in SiteGuru:
- Log into your dashboard
- Click the “Insights” tab
- Navigate to “Content that needs attention”
- Check if you need to update it
Make sure your website is fast, mobile-friendly, and pleasant to navigate.
You can get insights from the PageSpeed Insights test (or get updates weekly on auto-pilot if you’re a SiteGuru user).
Keep an eye on your engagement metrics:
- Your click-through rate
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on page
- User journeys
No. You should still focus on backlinks from sites relevant to your niche with established E-E-A-T track records of their own.
For example, if you run a fintech SaaS website, you’ll want to get backlinks from other websites in the fintech space.
Of course, you shouldn’t say no to organic backlinks from other sites, such as eCommerce brands that may be using your product. This helps evaluate the (positive) sentiment (another factor that plays a significant role in the E-E-A-T score).
Make sure your website has the following elements:
- Contact information
- Terms and conditions
- An "About us" page explaining experience and credentials (read: reasons visitors should trust you)
- Social proof: testimonials and reviews
- eCommerce: Pages for returns, shipping, and other policies
Remember: it’s all about giving Google a broader context of who you are, why your company is beneficial, and where you fit into your industry.
If you read this article word-for-word, you may have noticed that I used some of the techniques needed to increase the E-E-A-T score. (And if you scroll down, you’ll spot my author box, too.)
Fortunately, there’s nothing mystical about increasing your trustworthiness:
- Understand how Google evaluates your content (Check out Google’s questions and suggestions).
- Provide clear authorship information.
- Demonstrate your personal experience and expertise on the target topic.
- Technically optimize your website so that it’s easy to use and engaging to visitors.
- Integrate as much original research and analysis as possible into your content.
- Build your digital footprint by getting links, mentions, and appearing on relevant sources for your target niche.
- Update your content as needed.
At the end of the day, the E-E-A-T score is another way Google wants to make sure searchers find relevant content as soon as possible.
Keep these best practices in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an authority!