Over the years, Google has continuously adapted its search algorithm to satisfy user needs. As the world’s leading search engine, Google needs to ensure that users receive the best content when they perform a Google search.

Businesses and content creators are always releasing material for the public. Since not all online sources are reliable, Google has developed algorithms that filter web pages to display the best ones on top.

One of the more recent algorithm updates, the E-A-T update, holds high expectations for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages to rank high. This demands that businesses create higher quality content.

What Is E-A-T?

The acronym E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These properties gauge how reliable and valuable webpages are to users.

On August 1 of 2018, Google released a broad core algorithm update, known informally as the E-A-T update. It affected search engine optimisation (SEO) for business, especially for businesses in YMYL category.

Google’s E-A-T Update

That’s a lot of acronyms, let’s first dive into what E-A-T is.


The first letter of E-A-T stands for expertise, or how knowledgeable the people running a webpage are. Having expertise means the content supplier is an expert in the topic. They will have credentials that prove their knowledge.

Google’s decision on who has expertise is not concrete. Their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG) highlights everything related to search quality.

Their section 4.5 describes that “the standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page”. This means that people that frequent restaurants can have “everyday expertise” for writing restaurant reviews online, for example. Note that everyday expertise does not apply to YMYL pages.

Having expertise is generally advised for SEO of any content; it typically means the content creator is a primary source of information.


Authoritativeness means a business is recognised and has authority. It is similar to expertise but in terms of the website as a whole.

In fact, authoritativeness works in tandem with expertise since reputable companies must have reputable content creators.

Proving company knowledge in a certain industry can build authority. Companies gain authority through posting blogs consistently, social media promotions, practicing link building, etc.


A trustworthy content provider is reliable, and clients trust that the information is accurate.

The E-A-T update heavily demanded more trustworthy sources. Google wanted more original, up-to-date content, meaning high ranking pages had to provide consistently valid information. This especially matters when dealing with YMYL pages which are pages that pertain to health, finance, happiness, and safety of users.

These three components of E-A-T are used to rate the value of webpages and help evaluate their rank on Google’s result page.

Google’s E-A-T Update

The E-A-T Update

Since this August 2018 update heavily affected visibility of YMYL pages, articles surrounding YMYL and E-A-T spread quickly. This led many to believe that these principles arose from that update. In reality, E-A-T was introduced in the SQEG from 2014.

Since then, algorithm updates seem to increasingly raise the bar for YMYL pages, making E-A-T an essential component when it comes to ranking. 

Unlike past algorithm updates like the Panda or Penguin update, Google did not offer much information on the E-A-T update. It’s intention was ambiguous, but many medical and financial sites suffered in rank.

The Medic Update

The Medic update along with the E-A-T update are just monikers for the August 1, 2018 broad core update. It was unofficially titled the Medic update for its abnormally large effects on health, medical, lifestyle, and financial content.

Google claims YMYL content was not targeted, but those pages saw the largest shift in rank. As a result, some referred to this update as the E-A-T update for the heightened demand for E-A-T in web pages.

Similar Updates

In 2020, three core updates were released that seem to similarly raise the standards of E-A-T. Especially with the May and December 2020 core updates, many websites dropped in organic visibility on Google’s result page.

Understanding Google’s Quality Evaluator Guidelines

The SQEG is a reference for Google employees that rate pages. However, the document is public for businesses to reference as well. Keep in mind that these guidelines are really just guidelines; they do not offer absolute solutions for creating quality content.

Just as the algorithm updates often, the SQEG updates roughly every year. It introduced a concept in 2018 where pages must have a beneficial purpose. We will take a look at this later.

How To Prepare for Future E-A-T Updates

Google’s core update of June 2019 also touched on beneficial purposes. Like the Medic update, content creators were not told how to ‘fix’ their website in terms of SEO.

It’s suspected that Google wants overall better content; disclosing what the update covered might lead people to just ‘fit the algorithm’.

With that in mind, it is difficult to predict what needs to be focused on. Instead, businesses can focus on the general content they are creating. For example, finance websites should provide relevant information to financial topics supplemented with appropriate E-A-T principles.

How E-A-T Affects Google Search Algorithm

Technically, E-A-T is not an update or algorithm on its own. It is more of a principle and does not influence the system.

Your Money or Your Life

YMYL pages need high E-A-T to rank high since they can directly influence users’ lives. Some YMYL pages that need high E-A-T include:

  • Medical and financial advice
  • High-stakes matters like parenting
  • Current events and news
  • Science and scientific findings

Google Core Algorithm Updates

The core updates of 2020 dramatically impacted YMYL sites. Evidently, for many YMYL pages, rank demotions occurred right after these core updates. This forced businesses to rethink their SEO and improve E-A-T practices.

Amazon’s Visibility Index
Amazon’s Visibility Index. Image Credit: SISTRIX

Here, we can see on the right that Amazon mobile pages dropped in visibility after the December core update. Similarly, the same behavior occurred in the May core update for finance sites.

SEO Guide: Google’s E-A-T Update 1
Finance Sites’ Visibility. Image Credit: Pi’s SEO Platform

Ranking Factors

It is commonly asked if E-A-T is a ranking factor. E-A-T is not something that can be measured and does not directly affect ranking anyway. It is Google’s algorithm that ranks pages; E-A-T is purely human assessment.

Actual ranking factors like page speed or keywords are measurable and impact page rank. Instead, E-A-T helps Google evaluators determine page quality.

Search Quality Guidelines

E-A-T and YMYL were introduced to search algorithms from the 175-paged SQEG. E-A-T was mentioned at least 137 times in the latest version, demonstrating it as a predominant topic in rating page quality.

The SQEG is essentially Google’s attempt to push away low-quality content that may negatively impact readers.

Google Evaluators

There are roughly 10,000 ‘Quality Raters’ that work for Google. They rate pages using E-A-T guidelines and follow the SQEG.

As previously mentioned, these ratings do not directly impact ranking; it serves to evaluate the accuracy of Google’s search algorithm. 

Page Quality

The purpose of the SQEG is ensuring quality content is prioritized to searchers. But what constitutes as quality content?

High quality pages have high E-A-T, maintain a good reputation, and have a beneficial purpose. Pages that are accessible and give users what they came for are valued the most.

SQEG Update

Shortly before the E-A-T update, a July 2018 SQEG update required evaluators to rate content creators on E-A-T as well as web pages. This may have led to the commotion that ensued in the Medic update.

More recently, the latest SQEG update of October 14, 2020 added seven pages of content pertaining to page quality, user needs, and user intent/query.

Optimising Your Content For Success

Three aspects to consider when optimising your content for ranking are beneficial purpose, E-A-T, and YMYL. All are detailed in the SQEG.

How to Receive High E-A-T

With the information thus far, you may have some understanding of what will earn high E-A-T. After the E-A-T update, here are some ways to boost your YMYL pages:

  • Back medical, financial, and lifestyle claims with reliable sources
  • Study competitors’ keywords and implement those that boost pages
  • Offer about pages, contact pages, company bio, etc. that support your legitimacy
  • Have content created by subject matter experts/authoritative figures, or receive information directly from them
  • Create quality, original, fresh content to build recognition and authority
  • Ensure each page has a purpose
  • Host a secure web domain

Properties That Penalise Your E-A-T

Some practices will hinder your ranking because it’s purpose is not to help the user, or makes for terrible user experience. Here is what you should avoid:

  • Page focused on money, not helping users
  • Accumulating bad reviews and neglecting them
  • Intrusive ads
  • Too little main content
  • “Sneaky redirects,” or embedded links to affiliate programs
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Copying content
  • Abandoning webpages
  • Not being mobile-friendly

Key Performance Indicators

Abbreviated as KPIs, these help you know if your page is successful. Some KPIs that indicate your SEO and E-A-T are in good standing:

  • Low bounce rate
  • Positive reviews
  • Mentioned on authoritative websites/news

Demystifying the 3 Pillars of E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness

Google’s E-A-T, short for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, has become a mantra in the SEO world. But what do these terms really mean, and how can you ensure your website embodies them? Let’s delve into each pillar, offering practical examples, real-world case studies, and clearing up common misconceptions.

1. Expertise:

What it means: Having a deep understanding of the topic you’re writing about.

Demonstrating it:

  • Content by relevant experts: Feature content from qualified professionals in your field. Partner with doctors for health content, engineers for technical topics, or seasoned researchers for historical pieces. Showcase their credentials and experience prominently.
  • Detailed and accurate information: Ensure your content is factually correct, citing reliable sources and avoiding vague statements. Research thoroughly and offer unique insights based on your expertise.
  • Focus on specific niches: Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades. Go deep into a specific area and establish yourself as a trusted voice in that niche. Showcase your specialized knowledge through detailed guides, case studies, and data-driven content.

Real-world example: The Mayo Clinic website demonstrates E-A-T in healthcare by featuring content written by licensed physicians, offering in-depth information on various medical conditions, and focusing on specific specialties like heart disease or cancer.

Misconception: Expertise only applies to YMYL websites (Your Money or Your Life). While E-A-T was initially emphasized for websites impacting health, finances, or legal matters, it now applies to all content in some degree. Even a blog about baking needs accurate recipes and knowledge of pastry science to claim expertise.

2. Authoritativeness:

What it means: Being recognized as a reliable source of information within your field.

Demonstrating it:

  • Backlinks from high-authority websites: Earn backlinks from established and trusted websites relevant to your niche. Guest blogging on reputable sites or collaborating with industry leaders can boost your authority.
  • Awards and recognition: Highlight any awards or recognitions you or your website have received. Being included in industry reports or winning relevant awards showcases your authority and influence.
  • Positive user reviews and testimonials: Encourage user reviews and testimonials on your website and social media. Positive feedback from real users adds credibility and demonstrates trust.

Case study: Backlinko, Brian Dean’s SEO blog, achieved significant ranking success by creating high-quality content and strategically earning backlinks from authoritative websites like Moz and Search Engine Journal. This established Backlinko as a trusted source in the SEO industry.

Misconception: Paid backlinks boost authority. Google frowns upon buying backlinks, and they can even harm your website’s ranking. Focus on earning natural backlinks through quality content and genuine relationships with reputable websites.

3. Trustworthiness:

What it means: Conveying a sense of safety, security, and transparency to your audience.

Demonstrating it:

  • Clear contact information and about us page: Make it easy for users to find information about your team, contact details, and physical address (if applicable). Transparency builds trust.
  • Data security and privacy policy: Ensure your website has a clear and up-to-date privacy policy outlining how you handle user data. Implement strong security measures like HTTPS encryption to protect user information.
  • Honest and objective content: Avoid biased or misleading information. Present facts fairly and acknowledge different perspectives. Strive for accuracy and authenticity in your content.

Real-world example: Patagonia, the outdoor clothing brand, demonstrates trustworthiness by advocating for environmental sustainability, using ethical sourcing practices, and offering transparent information about their products and supply chain.

Misconception: A professional website design equals trustworthiness. While a clean and user-friendly website is important, true trustworthiness stems from ethical practices, transparency, and building genuine connections with your audience.

Remember: E-A-T is not a checklist but a holistic approach to building a website that deserves user trust and Google’s favor. By consistently demonstrating expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in your content and website practices, you can pave the way for long-term SEO success and establish yourself as a valuable resource in your chosen niche.

Why E-A-T is the SEO Secret Weapon You Need to Know

While keywords and backlinks still play a role, Google’s algorithms have evolved to prioritize user experience and high-quality content. That’s where E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – comes in as your secret SEO weapon. Here’s why E-A-T is far more than just a buzzword:

Direct Connection to Search Quality Guidelines:

Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines serve as a blueprint for their algorithms, and E-A-T runs through them like a golden thread. Raters are instructed to assess websites based on these very pillars, evaluating whether content is created by experts, backed by authority, and delivered in a trustworthy manner. Websites demonstrating strong E-A-T are more likely to be deemed high-quality by Google, boosting their search visibility.

Alignment with User-Centric Focus:

Google wants users to find accurate, reliable information that answers their queries effectively. E-A-T aligns perfectly with this goal. A website with expert-crafted content, established authority in the field, and a commitment to user trust delivers just that. Users are more likely to stay engaged, click through, and return for future needs, sending positive signals to Google about the website’s value.

Long-Term Benefits over Quick Tactics:

Black hat SEO tactics and keyword stuffing might offer temporary ranking boosts, but they rarely hold water in the face of E-A-T. Building genuine expertise, earning authority through quality content and backlinks, and establishing trust takes time and effort, but the rewards are substantial. Your website becomes a trusted resource, attracting organic traffic and loyal readers, leading to sustainable SEO success and a strong brand reputation.

Consider these real-world examples:

  • Website A: Uses keyword stuffing and thin content, temporarily ranking high but failing to engage users. Google devalues the website due to lack of E-A-T.
  • Website B: Focuses on E-A-T. Medical articles are written by licensed doctors, backed by research, and presented transparently. Users trust the information, engage readily, and Google rewards the website with high rankings and organic traffic.

Key Takeaways:

  • E-A-T is not just a ranking factor; it’s a philosophy for creating user-centric, high-quality content that Google and users crave.
  • Optimizing for E-A-T is a long-term strategy, but the benefits outweigh short-sighted tactics.
  • Building expertise, demonstrating authority, and nurturing trust in your website creates a solid foundation for sustainable SEO success and brand loyalty.

Conquering E-A-T: Actionable Strategies for Building Trust and Ranking Higher

The three pillars of E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – hold the key to unlocking SEO success in Google’s evolving landscape. Let’s break down actionable strategies for each pillar, equip you with valuable tools and resources, and address specific challenges faced by different websites on their E-A-T journey.

1. Expertise:

  • Content by Qualified Experts: Partner with professionals in your field. Feature articles written by doctors, engineers, researchers, or industry veterans. Highlight their credentials and experience prominently.
  • In-Depth and Accurate Information: Research thoroughly, cite reliable sources, and avoid vague statements. Offer unique insights based on expertise. Use data visualization tools like Google Data Studio or Tableau to present data effectively.
  • Focus on Specific Niches: Become a known voice in a niche. Create detailed guides, case studies, and data-driven content showcasing specialized knowledge. Analyze industry trends and data with tools like Buzzsumo or Semrush to identify relevant niche content opportunities.

2. Authoritativeness:

  • Earn Backlinks Naturally: Focus on quality content and genuine relationships. Guest blog on reputable sites, collaborate with industry leaders, and participate in relevant online communities. Tools like Ahrefs or Moz can help you analyze backlinks and identify potential collaboration opportunities.
  • Highlight Awards and Recognition: Showcase any awards, nominations, or industry reports featuring your website. Share positive press mentions and testimonials on your website and social media.
  • Engage with Your Audience: Foster interaction through comments, polls, and social media engagement. Respond to reader queries and address their concerns promptly. Consider tools like Hotjar or Qualtrics to gather user feedback and improve audience engagement.

3. Trustworthiness:

  • Transparency and Disclosure: Make it easy to find contact information, about us pages, and privacy policies. Clearly outline how you handle user data and address potential conflicts of interest.
  • Data Security and Privacy: Implement HTTPS encryption, prioritize data security measures, and comply with relevant privacy regulations like GDPR or CCPA. Use tools like Google Search Console or Cloudflare to monitor website security and identify potential vulnerabilities.
  • Honest and Objective Content: Avoid biased or misleading information. Present facts fairly, acknowledge different perspectives, and strive for accuracy and authenticity. Fact-checking platforms like Snopes or PolitiFact can help ensure factual accuracy in sensitive topics.

Challenges and Solutions:

  • New Businesses: Build content partnerships with established players in your field. Leverage social media platforms and online communities to gain traction and demonstrate early expertise.
  • Niche Topics: Focus on deep, valuable content catering to your specific audience. Become a resource hub for your niche community, collaborating with other niche players for cross-promotion and authority building.
  • Limited Resources: Consider guest blogging or collaborating on content creation efforts with other experts. Utilize free tools like Google Analytics and Semrush to track website performance and identify areas for improvement.

Measuring and Improving E-A-T:

  • Monitor Online Reviews and Mentions: Track brand sentiment and user feedback on Google Reviews, social media, and industry forums. Tools like Brand24 or Meltwater can help you monitor your brand mentions and analyze overall sentiment.
  • Analyze User Engagement Metrics: Track page views, dwell time, bounce rate, and conversions to gauge user engagement and trust. Tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar can provide valuable insights into user behavior.
  • Focus on Long-Term Content Strategy: Prioritize evergreen content that adds lasting value to your audience. Invest in creating authoritative white papers, research reports, or informative guides that showcase expertise and position your website as a reliable resource.

Remember, E-A-T is not a one-time achievement but an ongoing journey. By diligently applying these actionable strategies, utilizing relevant tools and resources, and adapting to your specific challenges, you can steadily build E-A-T, earn Google’s favor, and ultimately win the hearts and minds of your audience. Embrace the E-A-T path, and watch your website rise to the top, fueled by expertise, authority, and unwavering trust.


Q: How long does it take to build E-A-T for my website?

A: It’s an ongoing process, not a quick fix. The time depends on factors like your existing content quality, industry competition, and commitment to E-A-T principles.

Q: What are some red flags indicating my website might have weak E-A-T?

A: Thin content, inaccurate information, lack of author bios, poor user engagement, and negative online reviews are potential red flags.

Q: Can I buy backlinks to improve my E-A-T?

A: Avoid buying backlinks! Google penalizes such practices. Focus on earning them naturally through quality content and genuine relationships.

Q: What are some free tools I can use to measure my E-A-T?

A: Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Buzzsumo offer valuable insights into website performance and brand sentiment.

Q: I’m a new business with limited resources. How can I build E-A-T?

A: Partner with established players, actively engage in your niche community, and prioritize high-quality content that showcases your expertise.


The E-A-T update of 2018 left the content creating world with an elevated need for higher quality content. Businesses can refer to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to get a sense of what quality content might look like.

You can boost your E-A-T and page quality by sourcing reliable and fresh information, providing contact and about sections, and ensuring each page has a purpose.

To avoid penalties in page quality, avoid keyword stuffing, make your pages more accessible, and do not focus on irrelevant strategies like including ads or sneaky redirects.

All in all, Google is taking user needs more seriously by setting higher standards for YMYL content. While the SQEG does not provide absolute solutions, it is a great start for optimising your content for ranking.

Do note that Google’s algorithm can update sporadically. As seen by the Medic update, many businesses can be caught off guard. Connect with an SEO specialist to work toward boosting your page rank.

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