Google releases search algorithm updates around 500–600 times a year. Occasionally these are “major” updates that significantly affect the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS). At Loom, we assess all Google updates closely, partaking in industry analysis and pre-empting the impact they’ll have on the search picture and our clients’ sites.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know about the EAT SEO update as a business owner. We’ll also arm you with actionable tips you can try to help your website thrive in a post EAT update landscape.
What is the EAT SEO update?
In August 2018, the EAT broad core update was released to the algorithm. The update was released with the aim of improving content standards across the web, and emphasises the message that Google has been sending webmasters in recent years:
Make your site’s content show Expertise (E), have Authority (A), and show Trustworthiness (T).
This is known as the principle of EAT.
These principles are now more crucial than ever when it comes to writing website content, the level of traffic to your site, and the strength of your brand.
Why is EAT in SEO important?
EAT is a key principle within the Google search quality guidelines. These search quality rating guidelines are used to help Google’s human ‘quality raters’ evaluate online content and provide feedback to Google.
Because EAT is now classed as one of the core elements of page quality, this makes it so important to your website’s success in the search engine results pages. It’s now one of the metrics that Google uses to determine whether to rank a page highly or not. (Other metrics include website reputation, page purpose and website information.)
Following the EAT update last year, Google’s John Mueller advised those who saw a negative impact to their site ranking and traffic would need to make their content more relevant to users by making their website more EAT. Fast forward to the 10 minute mark to hear John’s comments about EAT.
What impact has the EAT Google algorithm update had?
To explain the most recent changes to the algorithm, Barry Schwartz from SEO Round Table (one of our favourite SEO gurus!) described the EAT update as ‘the medic update’.
When the update hit, he pulled data from 300 impacted sites. He discovered that a little over 40% of these were from the healthcare, fitness, medical and healthy lifestyle space.
Another type of website heavily affected was the e-commerce sector. This suggested that the update affected information-rich sites that provide critical information to the end-user.
In SEO terms these types of sites are known as YMYL, or ‘Your Money or Your Life’. This acronym is used to classify sites that can have a big impact on the safety, health or financial situation of the user. They tend to include lots of information that could be dangerous if incorrect such as:
shopping or financial transaction pages
pages offering financial advice
pages offering information about diseases, conditions or mental health
pages offering legal advice around such areas as divorce, child support and creating a will
pages where the information if incorrect could prove dangerous, E.G car maintenance
If your website fits any of these criteria, it’s important you pay attention to the EAT standards and apply them to your site as soon as you can. Get in touch with our expert SEO team for more advice today.
EAT in action: Examples of changes to popular YMYL sites since the update
After the EAT update, lots of examples of well-known YMYL websites saw improvements and declines in traffic.
For example, health advice website WebMD, fared well from the update due to strong author expertise.
However, brands with a low level of trustworthy content written by experts suffered during this core update.
The sites that saw an uplift are information-rich and have authoritative product content. They also have a wide array of advice about their products.
These high authority, informational sites saw big gains in traffic. Although this has been seen mainly across the health industry, it’s also a broad algorithm update that has affected many other YMYL sites as well.
That’s why maintaining a high level of EAT on any website, especially a YMYL site, is crucial if you want your website to thrive.
Things you can do right now to improve your website’s EAT performance
Making EAT improvements to your website should be seen as a long-term investment. Why? Because the EAT algorithm changes are here to stay. Adhering to them ensures you stand a good chance of achieving better rankings and more traffic to your site.
As John Mueller illustrates in the above video, the update was designed to improve the standards of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Therefore, making EAT improvements to your site is crucial when it comes to getting better rankings and higher levels of organic traffic.
9 Steps to improve your website’s EAT performance
Make sure your website is authoritative by frequently updating it with well written, useful content.
Ensure that the technical health of the site is maintained well. Carry out monthly technical audits to check for things like broken links and problems that may slow down crawl bots and cause user experience problems.
Create as many trust signals on your site as possible. This means ensuring the basic trust signals are present, such as a company address, contact details and active social media profiles. Be mindful that social media profiles should be consistent, fleshed out and show good engagement. Social media profiles should show consistent branding and include useful brand information. They should direct people to your website and be regularly updated.
Carry out a NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) audit of your brand online. This will ensure your company name, address and phone number are consistent across the web in online directories such as Yelp.
Make sure you have an up to date SSL certificate that ensures that your site is secure and on the HTTPS protocol. Put simply, your website should be on https:// rather than http://. This has been a lightweight ranking signal for several years but this year it became even more crucial. Google Chrome now displays a warning if a site isn’t secure, leaving you at risk of putting off users.
Update your ‘About Us’ or ‘team’ page to showcase your credentials and qualifications. This is a good opportunity to show the reader that you’re an expert in your niche or industry. If you don’t have an ‘About Us’ page on your site, choose a relevant alternative where the user can find out crucial background information about your brand. For example, add a mission statement, vision, history or experience page with as much proof as possible that you are experts on the product or service you offer.
Review your site mission and how it serves your core users’ intent. What information is a user looking for on your site? At which stages should you be trying to inform or sell? Do you think your site satisfies the needs of your core target audience? If the answer is no, then the chances are you’re not meeting the EAT standards.
Do not share deceptive or misleading information to push a user to convert. You should also disclose any partnerships or sponsor relationships. If you do use these within your business, shout about them and use this to your advantage. Create a dedicated landing page so you’re as transparent as possible and also use it to inform users.
Consider a sitewide audit of your content, culling any pages that are low EAT. Pay particular attention to pages with high traffic and a low EAT rating. Pages with a low standard of EAT will affect the site reputation as a whole.
Lastly, focus on your content writers
With Google raising the bar when it comes to “good content”, it makes sense that the people writing the content will be under scrutiny too.
That’s why you need to be able to demonstrate your content writers’ authority on your business’s industry or topic. Whether you do that through professional qualifications or a relevant online presence, Google wants to rank content by authors with a great reputation.
Here are our tips to increase your writers’ authority and reputation in the eyes of Google:
Make sure each member of your content team has their own bio. These bios should explain why they are the expert in the specific niche or industry they’re writing for. Push each writer’s credentials as much as possible.
When it comes to the style of writing itself, make sure all content explores the pain points of an issue and doesn’t become one-sided. It needs to give as much context to the user as possible.
If you’re running a small business where you don’t have an expert or the budget for a big content team, work instead on boosting your personal branding as much as possible. If you have a good online reputation with endorsements from third parties, then this will help you better your EAT reputation compared to others in your niche.
Make sure you follow SEO best practice content strategies. For advice on SEO tips and guidelines, as well as content marketing inspiration get in touch with our team of experts.
Ask yourself who the specialists are for your particular field. You can also try recruiting professional journalists or writers.
Aim to have a holistic approach to your site’s content. All content should be written to satisfy the needs of a user, with each page written expertly and showing authority. You should aim for a whole website to gain a positive reputation within its niche via hero pieces of content or core landing pages. These should then be supported by useful auxiliary and supplementary content.
Remember the principles of EAT and employ great SEO
As a website owner in a post EAT update landscape, it’s important that you start to think more like a content publisher. You need to examine the content you produce with an editorially critical eye, and make sure quality is always prioritised.
By making sure you build the most authoritative site possible, you’ll create strong trust signals for Google and the user which, in turn, will have a direct impact on the online success of your business.
At Loom we offer content marketing and SEO as part of our integrated digital marketing service. We always focus on reaching out to your target audience with engaging, original online content. Find out how to employ the EAT principles on your website through rock-solid SEO strategy and top-quality content today.