Google is known for multiple updates every year, which makes SEO experts rethink their SEO strategy. In August 2018, Google came up with an algorithm update that no one realized back then would be so crucial!! Though SEO experts had braced themselves as the algorithm update arrived, there was something deeper within the update.
The algorithm trackers soon unveiled a mysterious find. In weeks following the update, health and medical websites started to see a significant drop in their organic page rankings.
Soon in an update of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, the term E A T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) was officially found. The air was clear; Google will now direct the algorithm to watch out for E A T factors before ranking websites under the YMYL (Your Money Your Life) category.
Are you intrigued to know more about E-A-T and YMYL SEO? Read on.
Google E-A-T in SEO
In the Quality Rater Guidelines released by Google, E-A-T appears for the first time. This guideline is a 168-page document released by Google. It is widely used by the human quality raters of Google who are present across the globe.
With new updates in the algorithm, this document gets refreshed from time to time. In the previous versions, E-A-T had only a few mentions, but now the document has a separate section for E-A-T. This shows Google is genuinely focusing on E-A-T as a crucial factor.
An expert is someone who has been part of the industry for a significant amount of time. A site can only pass the Expertise criteria of Google E-A-T if it consistently has published content on the same industry. If the site has covered all the verticals of the industry with its content, it is considered by Google as an expert and hence eligible to publish related content.
Also, websites that seek guest posts from writers should ensure that the writer is an expert in the domain. If the writer has a blog page that hosts similar topics or has multiple bylines to their name in the industry, then Google will consider him/her an expert.
SEO experts are the unsung heroes behind numerous clients’ successful runs online. But do they have the authority that Google seeks? Most of these SEO experts do not have any digital trail left behind, and Google doesn’t know about their skills.
In the long run, Google is planning to tout itself as a knowledge hub with content on every domain. This is why the authority of your website content is critical. When people re-share your URL multiple times across platforms, it gains authority because people have found the information worthy.
Plus, when your content is created by an expert in the industry, who has credible mentions on the internet, Google will reward you with authority. Basically, Google is on the quest only to promote quality content.
A backlink is one way Google understands the authority of a business in a niche. When you regularly receive fresh backlinks, Google understands that your website is one of the authoritative players in that niche.
For a YMYL website getting such backlinks is extremely important as it will help establish a digital authority of your brand.
To build trustworthiness, consistent work over a period of time is required for a website. Here are some of the factors that lead to trustworthiness-
- Positive reviews on Google
- Multiple mentions across the internet and social media platforms
- High engagement with the content published
- The sentiment of users regarding the brand
When more sites quote the content from your website or blog, Google takes it as a signal of trust. It will be excellent for your site’s trustworthiness if any established and popular site links your content on their page. All of these make Google understand if your site is trustworthy or not.
The Expertise and Authority factor are primarily dependent on your website. But trust depends on how external engagement fares. From a technical perspective, owning a secured site enhances the chances of gaining trust from Google. With HTTPS enabled, the chances of ranking and gaining trust both increase significantly.
Here are some of the on-page factors for improving trustworthiness-
- List the people who are responsible for creating content and managing the website. Make sure you mention their credentials for Google to find their online presence.
- Make your site mobile friendly.
- Add alt texts which genuinely describe the content of the images on the website.
YMYL SEO- What does this mean?
To expand, YMYL means “Your Money Your Life”. Websites in the health, finance and wellness niche fall under this category. Hence, they need a different approach in terms of SEO. Such websites publish content that can directly impact a reader's health, finance, or well-being. It can lead to the success or failure of a person reading the content. This is why Google insists YMYL sites to adhere to strict quality guidelines, and the algorithm measures such websites through these quality guidelines before ranking them.
The algorithm checks YMYL sites based on Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
Here are some of the sites which generally fall under the YMYL category-
Websites with payment gateway- Shopping websites that have integrated payment gateway. Users use sensitive information and even save financial information such as credit and debit card details on these websites. If such data reaches the wrong hands, it can cause a lot of fraud!
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Financial advice websites- Shopping websites that have integrated payment gateway. Users use sensitive information and even save financial information such as credit and debit card details on these websites. If such data reaches the wrong hands, it can cause a lot of fraud!
To prevent such cases, Google lists such sites as YMYL websites. It imposes an additional layer of scrutiny before ranking such pages on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Google lists all such sites offering tax, retirement, or investment planning advice under the YMYL category.
Medical information website- Apart from finance, people also check online for medical advice. As these searches are generally on symptoms, remedies, diagnosis, and treatment, Google always wants to send the users to highly credible websites. One wrong piece of advice can hamper the user's health, which is why Google considers every medicine and nutrition site under the YMYL category.
Legal advice website- These days, any legal move is backed by plenty of research online. Websites offering legal advice are popular and influence the user's decision. Any site which gives information on divorce, child custody, the property will, etc., are categorized under the YMYL category.
Other than these, websites that offer news on state, national or international affairs are under the YMYL category. This is majorly done because of the spree of fake news on the internet and many people believing the same. Other websites such as child adoption, home security, or privacy-related ones also fall under the broad category of YMYL sites.
Improving Google E-A-T through YMYL SEO
It was found that the Medic algorithm from Google in 2018 removed websites with poor E-A-T. Simultaneously, Google also slightly pushed the rankings of sites that followed the E-A-T parameter.
Misleading or incomplete content which could cause more harm than good to readers was removed from the rankings. The Medic update didn’t only hit the sites with poor quality content. It is seen that it also created problems for sites with good long-form content without any credible author in the byline. Also, for the finance and medical domain, if the site publishing such content didn't have the expertise on the subject, then they were removed from rankings.
If your website was hit with the Medic update and lost rankings despite high-quality content, here are some E-A-T signals to track. These SEO factors can help you get back your ranking and also help you better the E-A-T of your site-
Add author bio
According to Google quality guidelines, it is imperative to mention the name of the author producing the information in content. As YMYL sites include healthcare and finance, Google wants the content published on these sites from only experienced authors. If your website has a product or service landing page, it is suggested that there is customer service portal for any help that the reader may need. The engagement of content on various platforms showcases whether the author in the byline is trustworthy or not.
Remove or edit poor quality content
Google determines the E-A-T after evaluating each page of your website and every content published. This is why it is suggested that you either edit or totally remove any content which is of poor quality. While it might lead to less traffic initially but later it will help you boost the E-A-T factor of your website. This is one of the proven ways to recover from the setback caused by Google algorithm update.
Use social media
To maintain an active website, proper use of social media is essential. The correct use of social media can help a website get better with E-A-T. Stay active on social media and share relevant content with the audience from your website. Through such activity, you can connect with meaningful audience who can earn you engagement.
Secure with HTTPS
While quality content, backlinks and author reputation are important for E-A-T, website security is essential too. Security is a major factor for Google as far as E-A-T is concerned. If you have a website which has lost the ranking due to recent Google updates, get an SSL certificate to bring it back to track. HTTP sites come with a Not Secure tag on Google SERP which further reflects the emphasis Google is giving to secured sites.
Does Google have a E-A-T score?
First and foremost, let’s clear the air. There’s no E-A-T score for Google to judge your ranking. E-A-T is a framework and best practice that will help your site rank better because it focuses on the quality of content published. YMYL is also a concept that the algorithm uses as one of the multitude of factors to rank a site.
To sum it up, Google E-A-T is a benchmark for quality content website. In the coming future, Google will only focus on sites that have genuinely well-written content. At the same time, sites which have lean or irrelevant content will be pushed down the rankings.
The prime goal should be to develop genuine content which gives out information to the readers. Along with this, follow the best SEO practices so that your site can always rank better than your competitors.