Google is always trying to make search results more useful and relevant to its users.
Just take a look at the Page Experience update that introduced core web vitals as ranking signals. Now, if your content isn’t fantastic as well as easy to use, it’s going to slip down the ranks.
It’s enough to drive any SEO pro insane.
Stop chasing algorithm updates and trying to discern hidden meaning in Google’s announcements. (They don’t want you doing that anyway.)
Focus on producing good content that’s easy to access instead.
Make sure your readers E-A-T only the best.
How to Improve Your E-A-T for Google
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
It’s the guiding star of Google’s search evaluator guidelines and the three things they look for in every single piece of content or webpage that exists.
But with around 7.5 million blog posts alone published every day, they don’t have time to look at each piece of content that goes out. Instead, they rely on – yes – algorithms that look at an array of metrics and characteristics of your content.
We don’t know what those are specifically, but we do know what Google wants to see in our content. (Hint: it’s the same thing our readers want to see.)
Are you giving readers the best content to E-A-T?
Here are five things you should do right now to make sure that you are.
1. Include Clear Sources and Credits
Area: Authority, Trustworthiness
The admonishment to cite sources has been drilled into us since grade school. After all, plagiarism detection is a death blow for content – even when it’s unintentional.
And while we may not be writing essays anymore, the advice still applies in content writing.
In fact, sources take on an extra level of importance in content writing because they can affect your SERPs. Whenever you link to a site, you signal to Google that you believe the source is credible.
If you’re linking to sites of questionable reputation or information or providing broken links, Google will notice.
However, when it comes to credits and sources, the links you use aren’t the only thing with which you must take care.
You must also include credits for graphics as well as for who wrote the content itself.
Including author names and bios is highly recommended when you’re writing YMYL content. In the case where content can radically impact someone’s life, Google evaluators want to make sure that you’ve got the proper credentials to be offering such advice.
Boost your E-A-T by using sources and credits strategically. Make sure to:
- Craft an author bio that showcases your credentials and expertise.
- Link to sources from domain names with authority or use the nofollow tag.
- Use statistics and link to original research whenever possible.
- Cite thought leaders and other authorities in your industry.
2. Leverage Your Content Differentiation Factor
Area: Expertise, Authority
You must create different, unique content.
Just like every brand has a unique selling position, every content creator has a content differentiation factor.
What is the unique perspective that you bring to a topic?
You need to find an “it” factor – something that engages eyeballs and inspires customers to convert.
Leveraged correctly, it’s also one of the best ways to establish your expertise and authority in an industry while setting yourself permanently apart from the competition.
For example, I’ve got insights and a perspective that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere due to my history and experiences with building a brand from scratch using content marketing.
You’ve got insights and a perspective to share, too.
The trick lies in uncovering them, then using them to prove why you’re an authority in your industry.
Once you’ve got that, you’ve got a solid foundation for your content house.
Here’s how to get started:
- Focus on your brand’s mission, rather than what your products or services do. Identify how you help people differently than others in your industry, and why.
- Identify your audience. Get to know them and discover what specific needs or desires you fulfill better than your competitors.
- Look inward to discover why you’re passionate about what you do. Did some event inspire you to start this brand? That’s the core of your CDF.
3. Audit and Update Your Content
Digital content is neat. Unlike a book, once it’s published, it’s not set in stone. You can go back and edit, update or alter what’s there.
Yet, for some reason, a lot of people treat blogs and website content like they do the content of books – as unalterable words on a page that aren’t easy to revise without creating yet another book.
This is a dangerous mentality and one which you should banish at once.
There’s always been an emphasis on producing evergreen content, but evergreen doesn’t mean you can forget about it forever.
As industries change, facts become outdated or untrue, best practices fall out of favor, and advice that was once a good idea becomes dangerous.
When those things happen, your content becomes what Google calls stale. And stale content rapidly falls to the wayside of the SERPs.
If you’ve recently noticed that content that used to perform well suddenly gets no traffic, or there have been any major advancements in your industry, then it’s time to perform a content audit.
However, even if there hasn’t been, consider performing a content audit every year. I recommend that you:
- Audit your site for thin content or content that’s under 300 words. Improve, consolidate, or remove such content if you’re able.
- Review statistics periodically to see if they’ve changed. It’s good practice to use statistics within the last two to three years unless you’re in a slow-paced industry.
- Double-check keywords and search intent. The way we use words changes, and what people mean when they search a specific query also changes. Google knows this and checks to see that your topic is consistent with other results for specific focus keywords.
- Be transparent. Include when the content was originally published and the date when it was updated. Don’t just update content and say nothing.
4. Improve Your Business Transparency with Content
Customers crave transparency. Some 86% of customers report that they want to see it from the brands they support. If they don’t, they’ll shop elsewhere.
Transparency is important because it proves that a company has more than its own bottom line in mind. By being transparent with information, associations, and even mistakes, you’ll help build consumer trust.
Your content can help you do this. Improve business transparency by:
- Structuring content so important information is prominent and not buried in paragraphs halfway down the page.
- Using clear titles and headings so people know exactly what they’re reading.
- Writing in plain English rather than using confusing industry jargon, which may seem misleading.
- Setting up your categories and tags properly so that readers can easily search for topics.
5. Moderate User-Generated Content
User-generated content can be an incredibly powerful tool for your marketing efforts. It can also boost your SEO, giving you more visibility in the SERPs. From hashtags to comments on your blog, you’ve got plenty of options for getting people to participate with your content more actively.
But don’t let it become a free for all.
How many times have you clicked away from a blog because the comments were filled with spam? Have you ever chosen not to shop on a site because people used hashtags that linked the brand to questionable causes?
Both of those things can and do happen. To avoid having your customers do the same, I recommend that you:
- Use a spam filter for your blog. Any good CMS will have one. With WordPress, it’s the Akismet plugin.
- Unlink tags that are off-brand. Did someone tag your Instagram account with distasteful content? Unlink and disavow.
- Remove and block trolls. Feel free to remove and block competitors who leave comments on your Facebook ads promoting their own products or users who leave inflammatory comments on your blog.
- Avoid removing content simply because you disagree with it. Don’t go overboard with deleting unpleasant content as that can easily backfire. If you find yourself overwhelmed with negative attention, it’s better to turn off comments altogether than target individuals with deletion.
- Leverage user-generated content to produce more content. Thoughtful replies to comments show a willingness to engage while providing an opportunity to demonstrate your authority and expertise! (It’s also another chance for SEO!)
Bottom Line: Always Serve Up the Best Content to EAT
Staying in Google’s good graces isn’t difficult. There’s no need to scry for signs in algorithm updates or overanalyze every single post on their blog.
All you need is a firm dedication to delivering the best content for your readers to EAT.
With these five pointers, you’re well-prepared to help Google serve up the best. In the process, you’ll also grow your brand’s authority and reach by proving you’re a straight-up professional at what you do.