Google’s John Mueller answered whether a content author’s expertise was important to Google’s algorithm because this plays such an important role in the Quality Raters Guidelines. John answered that he assumed there was some indirect work done on author expertise but noted that it was a “fuzzy area.”
E-A-T and Google’s Algorithm
It’s established already that Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines are guidelines for standardizing how third party raters score search results that are tested by Google.
The purpose of the Quality Raters Guidelines is to bring a certain amount of objectivity to judging search results that are being evaluated for usefulness.
John Mueller Discussing Author Expertise
So, rather than have raters use their own judgment, Google provides guidelines for them to use in order to standardize their judgment.
Google has recommended the use of the guidelines as a way for publishers and SEOs to objectively judge websites, which some have taken to mean that factors described in the document are in the algorithm.
As a consequence, the question lingers if some of these factors that are emphasized as important in the quality raters guidelines are important in Google’s algorithm as well.
E-A-T, meaning Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, is one of the factors the SEO community is concerned about.
Author Expertise and Google’s Algorithm
This specific question is concerned with the expertise of the content author.
The person asking the question asked:
“I have some questions about E-A-T.
In Quality Raters Guidelines, the author’s expertise is important.
So do you think it’s important for the real algorithm?”
John Mueller asked for clarification of what he meant.
The person asking the question clarified:
“I mean, E-A-T is just mentioned in the Quality Raters Guidelines.
But I want to know if real algorithms also care about E-A-T factors like author expertise.”
Indirect Approach to Author Expertise
John Mueller did not confirm that there is a direct author expertise focus in the algorithm. He only said that he assumed there was indirect work for determining expertise.
John Mueller answered:
“I would assume that there is some indirect kind of work done to try to do similar things, yes.
I mean, we put this in the guidelines so that we can kind of guide the quality testers to double check these things and if we think that it’s something important then I would assume that folks on the …search quality side also work to try to understand that in a more algorithmic way.”
E-A-T is Not an Algorithm Score
John next cautioned against thinking about E-A-T as a ranking factor or a metric.
“But I wouldn’t see like there’s like an E-A-T score and you have to get “5” or something like that on it.”
Expertise of Content
Mueller next returned to the topic of author expertise and said it’s more like trying to understand how the content fits into the rest of the web.
Understanding how something fits into the context of the rest of the web is something Mueller has been mentioning quite a bit lately.
“It’s more kind of like trying to understand the context of the content on the web.
And that’s a very… fuzzy area.”
Expertise of Content
It’s interesting how Mueller started his answer by talking about indirectly figuring out author expertise and then ending up talking about the idea of expertise relative to the content itself by in reference to understanding the context of the content on the web.
How important is the expertise of an author?
Maybe we should be asking, what determines expertise, the author’s credentials or what the content they publish?
For example, let’s consider a hypothetical case of a website filled with medical misinformation that is published by a doctor.
How important is the doctor’s expertise compared to the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content itself?
In theory, an expert author should be able to write expert content.
But is the proof of expertise in the credentials of the author or is it a quality of the content itself?
As John Mueller said, it’s a very fuzzy area.
Is Author Expertise Important to Google’s Algorithm?
Watch at 10:36 minute mark: