Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust, and Why They Matter in Digital Marketing
What are expertise, authoritativeness, and trust? They are three key components in Google’s Page Quality rating that determine whether a page has a beneficial purpose, and all three play into each other. Google uses Page Quality ratings as a part of their proprietary algorithm that determines which results are first when you query a term on Google. Many members of the SEO world collectively refer to these principles as E-A-T.
When determining Page Quality (or PQ), Google takes into account the page’s purpose, its E-A-T, the quality and amount of the content, and the information/reputation about the website or person responsible for the content. While the exact weighting of these factors is not something that Google shares publicly, the directional guidance they offer is still very helpful.
But how does Google determine E-A-T? The creator of a webpage should have relevant expertise in the topic the page is about, which helps lead to authority in that niche, and ultimately leads to building trust. For example, would you trust a medical research paper written by a student in the communication field? Probably not, because the student is likely not an expert in that field, nor do they have the authority that credentials like an MD would provide. On the other hand, if you are reading a parenting blog where the writer has 3 children of their own, you will be more likely to trust their experience and authority.
There are instances (like our medical research paper example) in which having formal training or experience in a field can boost the E-A-T of the page. However, Google also says that “If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an ‘expert’ on the topic, we will value this ‘everyday expertise.’”
But Why Does E-A-T Matter for Me?
Expertise, authoritativeness, and trust are important because Google and other search engines are focused on creating a great user experience, since without it, their business models are doomed to failure. If these search engines were to rely only on factors like page rank, keywords, and other factors, they would leave gaps that could be gamed by external actors. But, factors like expertise, authoritativeness, and trust are much harder to game, and users usually receive a better experience as a result of these factors having a greater impact on a page’s quality ranking.
This is why we always tell our clients to get as much high-quality content as possible on their websites. What does high-quality content look like? Google looks for factual accuracy and expert consensus, as well as comprehensive and clear content that is in an amount appropriate for the topic of the page. If you’re a little worried, don’t be! As long as you have the expertise in your brand and field as well as great content that allows your website’s pages to easily achieve their purposes, you’re doing great.
E-A-T and Your Digital Strategy
At a high level, if your content has all three, then you have little cause for concern. On the other hand, if you lack all three (or even feel you could be doing better in one) you should begin to allocate resources now to building them. As with many aspects of SEO, this takes time, so get prepared to work towards it over the long haul.
To start, find someone who can review your site to determine how you fare on these sorts of factors. Pretty much anyone can do this with little (if any) formal training and a little help from Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. If every article is written by an expert in that field, the links correctly call this out, internal linking follows suit, and your content is current, you are likely positioning your site for success. If there is a weak point in any of these areas, you need to put resources against it now. The more you wait, the farther behind you may become given competition is likely investing in these areas, and Google and other search engines will reward that effort.