Google’s John Mueller recently addressed a question on how the search algorithm measures the credibility and expertise of publishers.
In a Google Webmaster Central hangout on January 22, the following question was asked (emphasis mine):
“Given that the search quality guidelines are an indication of where Google wants its algorithm to go, how does the current algorithm handle measuring the expertise and credibility of publishers?“
This question seemed to stump Mueller at first, as he jokingly responded with “I don’t know” before offering further insight.
There’s nothing technical a site owner could do to send signals to Google about their expertise and credibility.
If there was such a thing Google would let people know, Mueller says.
There used to be things like authorship markup that could be used to send information to Google about an author of a piece of content.
Nothing like that exists anymore, so what Google uses now is a combination of “soft” quality factors.
“We’re trying to figure out how a user might look at [a publisher],” Mueller explains.
As it related to expertise and credibility, Mueller says publishers should focus less on technical ranking factors.
Instead, Mueller reiterates something often likes to tell people: focus on creating good content.
Ever since a revised version of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines was released last year, author expertise has been a hot button issue amongst SEOs.
The revised guidelines have a much stronger emphasis on evaluating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
For more information on how Google’s human quality raters are instructed to evaluate E-A-T, please see this article.
As far as Google’s algorithm is concerned, it sounds like there are no hard signals in place to measure a publisher’s E-A-T.
Or at least none that Mueller is revealing at this time.
To hear the full question and answer from the Google hangout, see the video below (starting at 33:42)
“I don’t know. I Think that’s probably hard to kind of figure out algorithmically. And if there were any technical things that you should do we would let you know.
So if there are things like authorship markup, that we had at some point, that we think would be useful for something like this we would definitely let you know.
But a lot of things are really more soft quality factors that we try to figure out. And it’s not something technical that you’re either doing, or not doing, it’s more we’re trying to figure out how a user might look at it.
So not anything specific that I could point at.