Google’s John Mueller answered a question about what determines website E-A-T scores. They asked whether links played a role or if it was content based score.
John Mueller answered in a way that debunked the idea of E-A-T scores or that it is a technical or SEO factor.
What’s Up With E-A-T
E-A-T is an abbreviation for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. They are qualities that Google’s third party Quality Raters are tasked to look for when evaluating websites ranked with new algorithms that are being tested.
E-A-T is an ideal that Google has for sites that are ranked, particularly in search results for sensitive topics like health and finance.
Because Google’s Quality Raters Guide tasks the quality raters to check for E-A-T and Google also recommends that publishers use the guide to evaluate their own websites, many in the search and publishing community understandably want to know more about E-A-T in order to improve their rankings.
Some in the search community believe there is some kind of scoring involved for E-A-T.
Related: Your Guide to Google E-A-T & SEO
What’s Up With E-A-T?
The person asking the question was trying to find out what SEO or technical factors might be involved with obtaining a high E-A-T score.
The person wants to know what determines E-A-T for a website:
“What’s up with E-A-T?
Is that determined by quality backlinks or more on the subject and thoroughness of the pages?”
John Mueller Explains E-A-T
John Mueller begins his answer with background information about what E-A-T is and how Google uses it.
“So E-A-T is an abbreviation for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. It’s something that comes from our quality rater guidelines.”
Quality Raters Guidelines Do Not Offer Algorithm Insights
Mueller next debunks the idea that the Quality Raters Guidelines (QRG) contain insights into Google’s algorithms and explicitly says that the QRG is not a handbook to Google’s algorithm.
He makes it very clear that it’s not filled with insights to the algorithm and that in the context of rating websites, the Quality Raters Guidelines asks the quality raters to pay attention to expertise, authoritativeness and authority for search queries in specific topics.
“The quality rater guidelines are not kind of like a handbook to Google’s algorithms, but rather it’s something that we give folks who are reviewing changes that we make in our algorithm.
And especially, E-A-T is specific to certain kinds of sites and certain kinds of content.”
Related: Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines: A Guide for SEO Beginners
There is No Such Thing as an E-A-T Score
Mueller next makes it clear and without ambiguity that Google does not have E-A-T scores.
He underlines the point that E-A-T is something the quality raters look at but that there’s no SEO related factor involved.
“So… from that point of view it’s not something where I would say Google has an E-A-T score and it’s based on five links plus this plus that.
It’s more something that, our algorithms over time …we try to improve them, our quality raters try to review our algorithms and they do look at these things.
So there might be some overlap here but it’s not that there’s a technical factor that’s involved which would kind of take specific elements and use them as an SEO factor.
But it is definitely something I would look into, especially if you’re running sites that map into the broad area where Google has mentioned E-A-T in the quality rater guidelines.”
E-A-T is a Guide and Not a Ranking Factor
Google encourages publishers to use the Quality Raters Guidelines as an inspiration for how to critique their own sites.
John Mueller’s comments about E-A-T align with that encouragement, especially for those whose content is on sensitive topics.
The QRG was developed to provide an objective way to rank search results of new algorithms that are under evaluation.
Google explains what the QRG is for:
“We work with external Search Quality Raters to measure the quality of search results on an ongoing basis. Raters assess how well a website gives people who click on it what they are looking for, and evaluate the quality of results based on the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content. These ratings do not directly impact ranking, but they do help us benchmark the quality of our results.
To ensure a consistent approach, we publish Search Quality Rater Guidelines to give these Raters guidance and examples for appropriate ratings.”
Somewhere along the line, some SEOs came to believe in a non-existent E-A-T score based on a document whose sole purpose was to ensure that third party quality raters used “a consistent approach” for evaluating web pages.
Related: Google Ranking Factors
Google Explains What the QRG is For:
How our Quality Raters Make Search Results Better
EAT and Google’s Ranking Algorithms
Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 33:45 minute mark: