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The EAT SEO Formula: Expertise + Authority + Trustworthiness

Picture of Connor Wilkins
Connor Wilkins

CMO, Direction.com

Our guide on EAT SEO for Better Search Rankings

What is EAT SEO?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It refers to Google’s guidelines for assessing the quality of websites and content in its search engine results rankings.

When evaluating sites and pages, Google looks for evidence of expertise in the content subject matter as well as indications that the source is an authoritative expert on the topic. Google also examines whether the site seems trustworthy based on elements like the reputation of companies or publishers behind it, transparency of ownership and contact info, citations linking to reputable sources, and a lack of suspicious or contradictory information.

Websites and content that rate highly for E-A-T tend to provide more value to searchers. By optimizing for expertise, authority and trustworthiness, sites can improve their ability to rank on Google and offer helpful information to users.

Why is EAT Crucial for SEO?

  1. Google wants to provide the most valuable search results to users. Sites with high EAT levels are better at fulfilling searchers’ informational needs and solving search queries. Prioritizing them helps Google deliver expert, authoritative content users find helpful.
  2. Google aims to downrank unreliable, untrustworthy, or questionable sources. Rigorously evaluating EAT allows Google to limit poor quality sites from ranking and surface more credible results instead. This safeguards searchers from low value or misleading content.
  3. EAT helps combat misinformation, fake news, and clickbait often engineered solely for ad revenue. By requiring expertise, authority and trustworthiness, Google reduces incentive to create sites rich in ads but poor in real value to those searching for information.
  4. Strong EAT makes users more likely to find answers and solutions on the search results page directly without needing to visit another site. This creates an efficient, seamless search experience on Google built around expert, authoritative sources users can readily trust.

The bottom line is that EAT comprises some of Google’s core ideals about what search should provide. By reflecting those same ideals in site content, developers can demonstrate their ability to understand and fulfilling searcher needs. Improving EAT thus becomes essential to rank highly in Google and gain visibility to more potential users and customers.

Origins of EAT in SEO

EAT—representing expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness—first emerged organically from Google’s underlying principles about ranking website quality and usefulness to searchers above all else. The concept was hinted at for years before being formally discussed by Google’s Search Quality Chief in 2014 as an important consideration in evaluating content value.

Since then, EAT’s prominence has steadily risen to occupy a foundational spot among ranking factors Google leverages in its eternal fight against misinformation and manipulative clickbait.

How Google assesses EAT

Determining true subject matter expertise requires an appraisal of how deeply a site appears to understand a given topic area. Pages can demonstrate cultivated knowledge through robust research practices substantiated by properly-cited reference sources. A diversity of well-qualified perspectives beyond just popular consensus also helps establish distinguished authority on a topic.

Authoritativeness at the individual writer or publisher level is weighed through editorial practices listing credentials of article contributors. Being widely reputable and sought after for commentary in media and industry conferences further proves one’s standing as an expert voice. Ultimately though, the expertise embedded in the content itself from precise explanations to novel yet vetted insights is what earns respect as an authority.

Lastly, Google investigates whether public perceptions, reviews and mentions align with a reputation for integrity and honesty. Transparent policies and corrections processes increase accountability if inaccuracies do appear, while contact details connect content to real organizations with something at stake for being trusted sources of information. Without this reader assurance that information is reported truthfully and ethically, establishing expertise means little.

How do I Satisfy EAT SEO Requirements?

At its core, search should connect people to experienced guides providing factually-grounded answers when questions arise.

Content creators play a pivotal role in cultivating expertise worth recognizing; they set the stage for readers to learn something meaningful, not just when it’s convenient or entertaining but because a trusted voice demands focused attention.

Here’s how you should be optimizing for EAT in your content:

Showcase Expertise through Content

Researching topics in depth is a vital foundation. Writers should extensively consult primary sources and scientific literature related to focus areas, while also gathering perspectives from reliable secondary analyses. Combining these two types of sources establishes base knowledge on major developments in a field as well as expert interpretation of findings.

For particularly complex or controversial subjects, evaluating multiple explanatory models from leading authorities provides a balanced overview. There is rarely a single settled viewpoint that encapsulates all nuances. Comparing theses through intensive topical research allows writers to synthesize key conflicts and areas of consensus.

Credible references and citations lend outside accountability throughout the research and writing process. Linking out to original peer-reviewed studies, well-regarded publications or meticulously compiled databases lets readers independently verify the source basis for commentary provided. References should be judiciously selected based on relevance to central claims and overall reliability of the host platform based on factors discussed earlier related to expertise and trust.

Strategically interweaving reference citations with summarized explanations aids article flow while backing statements. Writers aiming for expert authoritative style should embrace supporting pivotal contentions with credible footnote style links as part of forming sound evidentiary arguments readers can trust.

Establish Author Authority

Building writer credentials and an informative biography lends initial credibility. Authors should communicate relevant educational degrees, professional certifications, academic affiliations and specialized training background. Noting field-specific conferences or workshops attended demonstrates investment into continually developing subject knowledge.

Contributing pieces to well-known industry publications further validates expertise. Regular bylined articles or op-eds for established media outlets, especially those with high editorial standards, acts as third-party endorsements. Authors can request editor testimonials speaking to diligent fact-checking processes that vet submissions.

However, individual domain qualifications matter most for proving authority. Listing years of direct experience, key accomplishments and products successfully launched all potentially influence reader perceptions. Spotlight previous projects, campaigns or initiatives spearheaded to exhibit capacities delivering tangible experts-driven value.

Reputable figures tend to focus less on credentials alone and more on showcasing fruits of applied skills for solving real problems. As part of this, featuring client testimonials centered on expertise and judgment can resonate strongly. 

Build User Trust

Earning reader trust begins with ensuring content strictly adheres to factual accuracy and objectivity standards. Writers should verify all statistical claims against original data sources, double-checking figures for precision.

Potential biases in presenting factual information should be acknowledged openly as part of a commitment to transparency. Additionally, establishing correction policies and editorial oversight procedures demonstrates accountability if errors still occur.

Operators should prominently display contact information and identities of key figures involved alongside publication brands. Humanizing outlets in this way bridges perceived distance between readers and publishers.

Securing favorable testimonials reaffirms reliability and integrity, especially from recognized industry thought leaders. Positive reviews validating useful, non-misleading experiences build confidence in new visitors.

Constructive critiques also get addressed publicly to improve operations. User endorsements should cover depth of knowledge, ethical content practices and responsiveness to raised issues.

Platforms focused narrowly on monetization with little concern for information accuracy struggle in building durable reader trust. Prioritizing user value and understanding over revenue requires patience but earns loyalty. 

How do I Apply EAT SEO Across My Website?

Web Design Considerations

  • Prominently feature staff bios with credentials
  • Showcase rigorously cited content
  • Include case studies demonstrating experience solving problems

Emphasize Contact Accessibility

  • Highlight contact page links to direct expert access
  • List phone, SMS and email contacts for quick responses
  • Set visible contact time expectations and corrections policy

Optimize User Experience for Trust-Building

  • Continuously test and improve site speed
  • Analyze user flows to identify sticking points
  • Prioritize site search and intuitive IA by content type
  • Monitor and address concerning UX reviews

Conduct Regular EAT Audits

  • Audit practices, content and capabilities quarterly
  • Republish aging evergreen content with new sources
  • Routinely review new academic findings to integrate

Broaden Staff Skills and Expert Networks

  • Provide ongoing methods, reporting, UX qualifications training
  • Recruit innovative complementary domain experts
  • Proactively monitor external reputation and seek endorsements

Key Takeaways for EAT SEO

Hopefully this guide has broken down how to build expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness through your website and content. Search platforms have set a high standard for rewarding only the most rigorous efforts to provide quality assistance to those seeking information.

While earning recognition as an authority will always remain difficult, the framework is now clearer with specific areas to develop:

  • Showcasing intellectual curiosity and acumen through extensive research
  • Enlisting contributor qualifications reinforcing collective wisdom
  • Maintaining reader relationships with integrity and transparency

Final Thoughts on Leveraging EAT SEO

As patterns emerge for what earns trust algorithmically across search and social, staying on top of EAT best practices remains key even amidst the chase for conversions. Quick wins fade, but readers remember who stands by them.

Want expert guidance on applying EAT principles specifically to your site? We free website audits assessing current content and structure with an optimization analysis. Our team specializes in diagnosing overlooked issues undermining credibility and provide actionable next steps to drive organic growth.

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