Top SEO tips to implement in 2020. No 1: E-A-T

January. The month of hope and new beginnings, of New Year’s resolutions that will kickstart the year; the month you will get with it and get on with it…

But let’s face it, it’s really just a month of drudgery isn’t it? January is the crushing realisation that FTSE 100 bosses have already earned your annual salary. It’s the month of cold, lashing rain that has already extinguished that ‘get fit’ resolution: your bag of lycra gear, ready by the door – for dropping off at the charity shop. January is Blue Monday: the official most depressing day of the year; invented, even more depressingly, by the travel industry to get you to book holidays you can’t afford.

So given the circumstances, we’ve decided to ease you in gently, and deliver just one tip at a time – to allow you to absorb, implement and really get 2020 kickstarted.

Last time, we developed the (hopefully) helpful ‘5-steps-to-re-focusing-your-digital-brand-in-2020’; against a wave of “‘fake news’ that sometimes turns out to be true. Honesty, integrity cast aside; the age of bluff and bluster.”

Trustworthiness must therefore become a valued commodity. Mark Traphagen, Vice President of Content Strategy at Aimclear Digital Marketing, writing for the Search Engine Journal, thinks so:

‘In an era of fake news…now more than ever you must work hard to prove trustworthiness.…an increasingly important signal to establish your own reputation, with the public and with Google search.’

But how can we manifest this in within our digital marketing and SEO strategies and do the likes of Google even care about the value of your output? 

Top SEO tips you need to implement in 2020

No 1: E-A-T

The good news is that yes Google does value quality and trust. Also good news, is that Google publish their ‘Quality Rating Guidelines’ – which will help you attain the kind of quality webpages that Google likes to see. The bad news is that it is 168 pages long. However, because it’s January and still raining, we’ve read it for you (well, the relevant bits at least).

What are Quality Ratings Guidelines?

These are the guidelines their rating staff or ‘Quality Raters’ use in order to rate information. This is how Goole adds human intervention to the process of evaluating information – they do not just want general information to be found, they want useful and relevant information to be found; their mission to make quality information searchable by sorting the wheat from the chaff. 

We’ve mentioned before, that in the good ol’ days of keyword stuffing, all you had to do was fill your text and meta-data with vaguely relevant keywords and cram your social media with hashtags to get results. But things have changed. There is simply so much data that Google are finding new ways every day to update their algorithms to defeat useless and uninformative data.

It boils down to the authority of your website’s main content (MC). This means that the quality and authority of your authorship is important to Google and ultimately will help determine how your page will rank.

Will poor E-A-T ratings affect your Search Engine results?

Getting a low score by the Quality Raters doesn’t necessarily affect your site’s ranking in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPS). But bear in mind that Google have implemented this for a reason and are constantly looking to update their algorithms. They have introduced human intervention to access and evaluate the content of search results against their own Quality Rating Guidelines – the data collected is then added into Google’s algorithms to improve search results.

So yes, indirectly E-A-T will affect your rankings in the SERPs – so you need to focus on it just as much as other SEO factors if you are looking to build and secure your long-term rankings above your competitors.

So, what is Google looking for?

‘Highest quality sites and pages have a very high level of expertise OR are highly authoritative OR highly trustworthy’

That means that whole websites or pages within websites that don’t have an obvious beneficial purpose will receive a poor rating.

For pages that do have a clear beneficial purpose, ‘the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important’.

Following Google’s own guidelines – the emphasis is on:

But, why is this important?

Noa Eshed is a writer for the well-established digital marketing platform: Business2Community (you see what we are doing there?) She makes a good point on E-A-T:

If you’re looking to score a quick win, you’re outta’ luck. Going by E-A-T’s framework means taking time to build and nurture…. so, focusing on these three pillars is the smart thing to do if you want your pages to rank high for the most relevant search queries in your industry.”

What can we learn from Google’s own instructions?

Google’s instructions to their army of ‘Raters’ offer plenty of guidance and offer insights into their mindset:

‘A website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users…’ So, despite what some people think,Google do not just rely on computer programmes.

‘Many websites are eager to tell users how great they are…. but you must also look for outside, independent reputation information about the website….’ Google consider what other people say about you, more than what you boast about yourself.

‘…truly evaluate the Page Quality of the site, not just blindly accept information on one or two pages of the website. Be sceptical of claims that websites make about themselves. Ouch, Google suspects that you might be a total bluffer.

So, in summary, Google is saying that they consider lots of information on the internet to be utter bunkum, to be treated as drivel, written by bluffers – or something to that effect. Sorry it’s January, so we’re pretty grumpy as well.

So, how do we implement E-A-T?

In order to comply with Google’s guidelines and produce a site that is rated high in Quality Ratings, you need to focus on:

1. Expertise (of the creator of the Main Content)

Write content that clearly has expertise. Avoid writing blogs and articles that could have been scribbled on a fag packet. Include an author and biography. Google (and your audience) wants to know who is producing your library of knowledge to check it has the necessary expertise – and grade it accordingly.

2. Authority and trustworthiness (of your main content)

Write content that clearly has authority and is worthy of trust. This means you writing material that obviously has had some research behind it. Avoid plagiarising other people’s material and employ quality writers who produce informative and interesting material. (Isn’t it amazing how many ‘strategists’ don’t seem to be able to write basic, quality content?).

Connect with your audience using storytelling, interact with them through your social platforms, and post information that is worth reading. Otherwise, websites with MC containing authority and trust will be placed ahead of you.

3. Getting rid of low E-A-T content (from your website and searchable platforms):

Read the content on your own website. Read competitor websites – it’s surprising how many sites contain bland, featureless, anonymous content that looks autogenerated. Make sure that any material you publish is informative, authoritative and useful.

What now?

So, there we have it. One tip and 3 east steps to get on with. Bearing in mind the season of goodwill is over, it may be time to start evaluating progress of your SEO journey and heed Google’s bluffer warning. Don’t be swayed into yet another expensive re-brand – just deliver authoritative content and start transforming your digital presence.

But you might still need some help? If you are in the south/S Wales/south-west England area, you might see a new face out and about for WebAdept, delivering workshops for Sport Wales and Lloyds Bank Digital Academy.

Mark Oakman is our new Sales Director, an experienced digital marketer with over 20 years in the business. He has spent the last 5 years as Digital Director at Wales Online, Wales’ most popular regional website for news, sport & lifestyle related content with a monthly audience of 14 million unique browsers.  So, if you want better results from your own digital presence, then get in touch – he’d love to hear from you!

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