Google Algorithm Updates: Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness Matter

Ranking high in search engine results is about more than just keywords. You’ll get better digital marketing results when you keep abreast of the constantly changing landscape of SEO. That’s how you can stay at the top of the search rankings – or at least not get blindsided by the Google Algorithm. As anyone who’s ever tried to stay up to date with Google’s constantly evolving algorithm and adjust their marketing efforts accordingly can tell you, it isn’t easy. 

Here is everything you need to know to understand the context and a few tips that can simplify your path to improving your SEO results. 

 Quality content is more important than ever 

Google released its 160-page Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in late 2015. A quick read through the guidelines tells us that Google ranks quality content among the top three page-quality factors. 

 On August 1, Google released a general algorithm update without specific recommendations. As SEO professionals analyzed site performance following the update, they speculated that websites with low credibility and low E-A-T were hit the hardest. 

E-A-T? 

 Expertise.  Authority. Trustworthiness. 

 Moving forward, Google is placing a much stronger emphasis on E-A-T.  YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages were amongst the hardest hit by the recent update, as Google explains: “For these “YMYL” pages, we assume that users expect us to operate with our strictest standards of trustworthiness and safety. As such, where our algorithms detect that a user’s query relates to a “YMYL” topic, we will give more weight in our ranking systems to factors like our understanding of the authoritativeness, expertise, or trustworthiness of the pages we present in response.” 

 In essence, Google adjusts the weights they use for various signals in their ranking algorithm based on the type of search query, so if your page includes content that can affect someone’s health, happiness, safety, or financial stability, Google considers it a YMYL page. 

 According to Google’s Danny Sullivan, better content will result in higher rankings. Luckily, Google provides a clear set of guidelines for creating quality, relevant content. Take a look:  Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines. Implementing Google E-A-T principles as you create your content won’t just boost your search rankings, it will help you build trust with usersWe’ll dive into each component of E-A-T to help you create relevant content search engines and users will love. 

 How to show Expertise  

 When it comes to establishing topical expertise there is a good rule of thumb to follow. Whenever you’re planning content, ask yourself, “Who are the experts?” 

 In other words, who are the people that know the most about your content topics and industry? Can you find a way to have them help you create or review your content? If not, at the very least, those experts should be cited as a source. There are two types of expertise according to Google’s search quality guidelines: 

 Formal: In many cases, a certified professional is the most reliable source of information — think the medical, financial and legal industries — especially when publishing incorrect information poses a higher chance of putting users at risk. This pertains especially to YMYLs pages previously mentioned. 

 Everyday expertise: In other cases — topics like recipes, humor or home decor — Google’s guidelines state that the most expert sources of information are ordinary people sharing their personal experiences on blogs, forums, reviews, discussions, etc. 

 How to prove Authoritativeness  

 The key to authoritative content is realizing that in some cases you (or your client) won’t be the best source on your topic. Instead, you’ll need to draw on authoritative experts and sources with established credibility.  

 Links from relevant and authoritative websites are a significant factor when it comes to ranking websites so any content marketing or SEO should take this into account. 

 Of course, you also want to use proper grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation in your content.  

 How to show Trustworthiness  

 When you need to decide if a given action will make you more or less trustworthy, Google Webmaster Guidelines suggest asking yourself, “Does this help my usersWould I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” 

 In other words, you should be creating the most useful and accurate content possible to help or teach your users. Here are a few other ways you can improve your website and your content’s trustworthiness:  

  • Earn positive reviews on places like Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, Facebook, Google My Business, and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Ensure website visitors have a clear and simple way to make contact with the website owners.
  • Publish an easily accessible a term of business, or T&Cs page.
  • Make sure your website’s domain is secure as HTTPS is very important to Google. 
  • Post your privacy policy. 
  • Post your refunds and returns policies. 

 Another rule of thumb in this situation is to treat your website visitors like you would like to be treated if you were shopping or searching online. 

 Final thoughts 

 If you want to rank pages on Google for relevant search terms and keywords, covering these three Google E-A-T pillars is essential. Unfortunately, there are no “quick wins”. Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness take time to build.  

 The good news is that if you need expert help adjusting your content and SEO strategies to the Google Algorithm, you can call us.