Demonstrating first-hand experience is more important than ever for Google Search rankings.
Updates to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines list the criteria Google looks for.
Google is upgrading the concept of E-A-T with an additional “E” for “experience.”
What is E-E-A-T?
The acronym “E-E-A-T,” stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
It is important to note that E-E-A-T is not a ranking factor of Google’s search algorithm but a component of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines which are utilized by individuals known as “Quality Raters” to assess the expertise of content creators.
Why E-E-A-T is Important?
The addition of the new “E” refers to “experience,” – and it means that Google values firsthand or life experience on the topic a page is about.
It is important because often searchers want to know first-hand information before they decide to purchase something or use a certain service.
This implies that Google tends to “reward” pages where the author has actually experienced the topic they are writing about.
For example, if an author is writing an iPhone review, they should have actually used the product – or if they are writing about the best restaurants in San Francisco, they must have visited them.
Google’s updated Search Quality Rater Guidelines say this about experience:
“Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience.
For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a “review” by someone who has not?”
In addition to adding experience as a factor, Google is placing renewed emphasis on trust.
See the diagram below for how trust is placed in the center of experience, expertise, and authoritativeness.
Trust is the most critical component of E-E-A-T, Google says, “because untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how Experienced, Expert, or Authoritative they may seem.”
Experience, expertise, and authoritativeness support a quality rater’s trust assessment.
If you’re following Google’s guidance regarding E-E-A-T up to this point, you’re well on your way to building the level of trust Google’s quality raters are looking for.
Here’s how to ensure you maintain that trust by demonstrating first-hand experience.
How Google’s Quality Raters Evaluate E-E-A-T
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines have multiple chapters evaluating E-E-A-T, from a high to a low level.
Chapter 4.5.2: Lowest E-E-A-T
Chapter 4.5.2 of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines states:
“If the E-E-A-T of a page is low enough, people cannot or should not use the MC of the page. If a page on YMYL topics is highly inexpert, it should be considered Untrustworthy and rated Lowest. Use the Lowest rating if the website and content creator have an extremely negative reputation, to the extent that many people would consider the webpage or website untrustworthy.”
Chapter 5.1: Lacking E-E-A-T
Chapter 5.1 of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines has examples of what quality raters are instructed to look for when evaluating a low level of E-E-A-T:
Low quality pages often lack an appropriate level of E-E-A-T for the topic or purpose of the page. Here are some examples:
- The content creator lacks adequate experience, e.g. a restaurant review written by someone who has never eaten at the restaurant.
- The content creator lacks adequate expertise, e.g. an article about how to skydive written by someone with no expertise in the subject.
- The website or content creator is not an authoritative or trustworthy source for the topic of the page, e.g. tax form downloads provided on a cooking website.
- The page or website is not trustworthy for its purpose, e.g. a shopping page with minimal customer service information.
Additionally, Google says a positive reputation cannot overcome the lack of E-E-A-T for the topic or purpose of the page.
Chapter 7.3: High Level Of E-E-A-T
Chapter 7.3 of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines has information regarding the criteria for achieving a high level of E-E-A-T.
Regarding demonstrating experience, Google says:
“Pages with High E-E-A-T are trustworthy or very trustworthy. Experience is valuable for almost any topic. Social media posts and forum discussions are often High quality when they involve people sharing their experience. From writing symphonies to reviewing home appliances, first-hand experience can make a social media post or discussion page High quality.”
Chapter 8.3 Very High Level Of E-E-A-T
Chapter 8.3 of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines has information regarding the criteria for achieving the highest level of E-E-A-T:
“Very high E-E-A-T is a distinguishing factor for Highest quality pages. A website or content creator who is the uniquely authoritative, go-to source for a topic has very high E-E-A-T.
A content creator with a wealth of experience may be considered to have very high E-E-A-T for topics where experience is the primary factor in trust.
A very high level of expertise can justify a very high E-E-A-T assessment. Very high E-E-A-T websites and content creators are the most trusted sources on the internet for a particular topic.”
E-E-A-T And AI Generated Content
Since the new “E” in E-E-A-T means “experience,” AI can’t meet the quality threshold for certain types of content that require experience. Google is internally discussing this issue and has yet to arrive at a policy.
What we know so far is Google advised against publishing automatically generated AI content using tools like ChatGPT without review by a human editor before publication and released guidance about AI-generated content which says:
Appropriate use of AI or automation is not against our guidelines.
Danny Sullivan from Google confirmed that AI-generated content isn’t necessarily against the company’s guidelines, assuming it is acceptable as long as an editor reviews it and undergoes fact-checking.
- Google Algorithms & Updates Focused On User Experience: A Timeline
- Google Sets The Record Straight: AI Content In Search Results
- How Search Engines Work
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