What Search Engines Are Looking For, Part 1 - Expertise
Posted on 28th January 2021
Are you, or the author of your website content, an expert on what you're writing about?
If you are not, then it is inevitable that Google will find you out! Google uses a wide range of factors to rank websites such as the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content writer or what Google refers to as E-A-T, their ranking system for "expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness”.
Google doesn’t just concern itself with delivering the information most relevant to a searcher's request, it strives to deliver the most correct and factual information. With certain types of internet searches, there is the potential to negatively impact the user with the results (namely in the areas of finance, health, and safety). Where the relevant pages are low quality in terms of the expert value of the information, they do have potential to impact the searcher's wellbeing. Google certainly does not want to offer up links to web pages that share uneducated advice, ill-informed opinions, or potentially fraudulent websites. Google wants to be as certain as possible that it is recommending websites that display a high level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, exactly what E-A-T stands for. It is their way of protecting searchers from low-quality content that could be a potential danger to the searcher.
“Create content that teaches. You can’t give up. You need to be consistently awesome.” Neil Patel
If your business falls under the banners of health, wealth, or safety then E-A-T will be vital to your online success.
What is expert content?
An expert is described by the Oxford English Dictionary as being “very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area”. However, possession of expert knowledge alone really is not going to get potential customers flooding to your website; you need to have a good grasp of the skills that will help you communicate your expertise to your audience in an engaging manner. This means you need to know what your audience wants and how they like to receive their information.
For example, if a searcher asks the question, "How can I get my website to the first page on Google?" the stock answer most often seems to be something like: “Create great content that your audience loves.” While this may seem like an overly simplistic answer (and it is), it’s an answer which pretty much sums up what you need!
How can you create expert content?
Firstly, find out what your audience is searching for, then meet and exceed their needs. To do this you should begin with some keyword research. Try to understand what stage these searchers are at in their journey as a consumer or as somebody getting involved in your industry.
Try not to use too much industry jargon or gloss over points that a novice is unlikely to understand. Establish how your audience wants the requested information presented. This requires finding a balance between being comprehensive and keeping it simple. Does the reader want to see visual aids such as video or audio?
The end result you want is for the reader to truly understand the content you have written on your specific subject by the end of the article without it being a laborious process.
How can you have your expertise recognised?
Being an expert is great, but this is only the beginning! When other experts or influencers in your field cite you as a source of information or, if your name/brand/business becomes synonymous with the relevant topics, then you are not just an expert - you're now an authority.
There are a number of key points that authoritativeness is judged on, but in the main, it all comes down to links. Links from relevant and authoritative websites are a huge factor in search engine ranking of websites, as these are the foundations that your domain’s authority is built upon. This means that you need relevant websites who have gained authority already in your field to recommend you - there really is no better endorsement that your website can receive from another website owner, than a link. While links are the holy grail, simply being mentioned on an authoritative website will still boost your authoritativeness, in the eyes of Google.
How can you build trust between your business, your brand and your audience?
If your content is widely shared, genuinely and consistently across social media, this also helps to build your reputation as an authority, as well as strengthening your brand not only for SEO results, but because branded search volume is a good measure of how your brand authority is doing. If more and more people are searching for your brand name, they are searching for your brand name with a relevant keyword attached, which is even better.
Trustworthiness completes the E-A-T trilogy. While expertise and authority boost your rankings, trustworthiness or rather a lack of it is what can easily decimate your rankings on Google. Stubbing out any negative sentiment around your business is a necessity, fail to do so and you will suffer on Google. You need to be delighting your customers (positive online reviews are a great sign of this) and if you have any complaints, you MUST address them before you end up with too much negativity attached to your brand. Google is very clear about this in their guidelines - too many bad reviews is a sign of low quality.
As you now know, when sharing information on a subject, particularly medical, health and financial related matters, you need to have proven expertise, authority, and trustworthiness for Google to recommend your content. When Google recommends a page to a searcher, they don’t want them to read false information (fake news!) especially when it could impact their health, finances or happiness. Bad advice is never good, but when it comes to these topics it’s the worst.
Following E-A-T as a framework when working on your business’s digital marketing means you’re taking a holistic approach to SEO and content marketing. Covering these three pillars is a smart thing to do, particularly if you want to rank pages on Google for the best search terms in your industry.
This will be bad news for anyone looking for a quick solution, but expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness take time to grow and build with no productive shortcuts available. So this makes it even more important to remember that long gone are the days where you can pop up overnight and take over Google’s results pages. The E-A-T criteria, by definition, means incrementally growing a brand and a positive online presence in a natural way. The good news, however, is that if you do this right, it will be very difficult for the competition to knock you from the prized top spots of Google.
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