It’s a play on words and one I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of in this year’s headlines! Google’s E-A-T framework, which sets out how it evaluates online content for search rankings, has received an update. Another E has been added – this time for ‘experience’.
The acronym is easy to remember, but here’s a quick refresher on what each letter means:
- Experience: Does content demonstrate it was produced by someone with real-life, first-hand, tried and tested experience on the topic?
- Expertise: Does the content creator have the necessary skills and knowledge to be considered an expert on the topic, building confidence with the person consuming the content?
- Authoritativeness: Is the content creator known as a ‘go-to’ in their industry, a reliable and trustworthy source for the topic?
- Trustworthiness: Is the web page or site trustworthy, not just the content on it?
According to Google, “These guidelines are what are used by our search raters to help evaluate the performance of our various search ranking systems, and they don’t directly influence ranking. They can also be useful to creators seeking to understand how to self-assess their own content to be successful in Google Search.”
E-A-T has been around since 2014; what does the extra ‘E’ add?
Google has long held the view that expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are very important to them. High-ranking web pages will demonstrate all three characteristics in abundance, whereas woolly, ill-thought-out content, which is unhelpful and riddled with errors, will rank poorly.
‘E for Experience’ is the belief that having first-hand experience on a topic is far more credible than not. I’m sure we’ve all spoken to someone who was an expert on raising children but never had kids of their own, or had a well-meaning relative give you advice on how to complete a tax return despite never having the need to do so themselves and no formal accountancy training! When you ask for a recommendation for a product or service, you’d rather receive it from someone who has already ‘walked the walk’.
Fake E-E-A-T is a thing, apparently!
Fake E-E-A-T is definitely not something to try! This includes using Artificial Intelligence to generate profile pictures and bios, calling people experts when they are not, having fake contact details on your website, and saying articles are peer-reviewed by a qualified expert when they aren’t. Google knows, and will penalise online content accordingly!
E-E-A-T tactics for Professional Services businesses
All this is good news for professional services firms, who invest heavily both in time and money to build their reputations, so they are seen as experienced, authoritative, trustworthy experts! Much of this credibility has been built up organically and authentically because, in professional services, experience and expertise is just what they do. This is hard to fake and should be leveraged.
When drafting any content that will end up online – and therefore subject to Google’s ranking process - there should be a strong focus on providing reliable, authentic information that is helpful to the reader. We recently explored how to maintain authenticity in the face of AI. And you can find a handy self-assessment checklist HERE.
Thought leadership content can be powerful for building your own personal brand, as well as that of your business. It is used to educate your clients, enhance your reputation and foster long-term relationships.
For professional services, thought leadership pieces such as blogs, LinkedIn articles, videos, white papers, industry reports, podcasts and webinars are all great ways to demonstrate your experience and expertise – and therefore help your business rank higher in Google searches. Well-written content includes words and phrases within the body of an article that rank well on Google. Don’t forget this extends to the metadata in the background and setting ALT text for images, too. Podcasts and videos can also rank well when titles, transcripts and metadata are written with relevant search terms in mind.
Online reviews and testimonials are further signals to reinforce that you are a trustworthy business. Ensure that you ask for, collate and respond to customer feedback. Up-to-date views and opinions from real clients and customers add to the ‘Experience’ Google is looking for, particularly when they are provided through Google reviews and other third-party sites, such as Trust Pilot, Feefo or ReviewSolicitors.
If you are writing on your own website or guest writing on someone else’s, make sure your author biography is accurate and complete, with relevant links to social media – and that your personal and company social media bios are all up to date. If you can demonstrate that you are the expert, with the relevant experience, Google will reward that. Links to and from trusted sites all add up.
As well as producing great writing, think about how the content is presented to your audience. Is the website easy to navigate and intuitive to use? Are there plenty of ‘calls to action’ enabling you to convert clicks into clients? Could it benefit from some User Experience (UX) testing and conversion rate optimisation (CRO)? And with an epidemic of online scams at the moment, is your website security up to date?
What is YMYL?
This article from Semrush summarises E-E-A-T nicely and introduces another acronym, ‘YMYL’, which stands for ‘Your Money or Your Life’.
YMYL covers topics that are considered to affect the financial security, safety, health and wellbeing of people. This includes finance, medicine and current events, topics which are relevant to many professional services businesses, including solicitors, barristers, chartered surveyors, consultants, accountants, financial advisers, and healthcare businesses.
Google determines the amount of harm a topic may have, for example, if it promotes dangerous acts or extremist views or contains inaccurate information that may have an impact on a person’s health, safety or financial stability, and will rank it accordingly.
But this might be a topic for another day…
Ready to act? We can help build E-E-A-T into your marketing strategy!
An E-E-A-T evaluation can be incorporated into wider Digital Marketing, Conversion Marketing and Content Marketing strategies. The team at Cal Partners has expertise in the professional services, healthcare and consultancy sectors, and we will work with you and tailor our offer to your needs, growth plans, and target audience.
Marketing for Professional Services
The go-to strategic marketing partner for ambitious professional services