Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) is frequently talked about as the next big thing in Google’s algorithm, a way for Google to determine whether a website is credible. We’ve gone to some length to try and figure out whether it is actually so and you can read all about it in our past article on E-A-T.
Today, we’d rather talk about what you can do if you believe Google is using E-A-T metrics in its algorithm or if you want to future-proof your website in case it does in the future. Here are the eight E-A-T signals you can add to your website:
1. Author bio
One of the most common ways to lend authority to your content is to have it written by an expert. Or at least someone who appears to be an expert. This is why it is advised to disclose your authors rather than have the content written by a brand or a staff member.
Currently, the best practice for disclosing content authors is to have them stated on the article page:
And then have the author’s name linked to a dedicated author’s bio page elsewhere on your website:
The author’s page is where you give the gravity to the name, so the more information you include the better. It is now common in the SEO community to treat these pages as microsites, including a variety of media and links. The common things to include in the author’s bio are:
- Job title
- Social media profiles
- Experience (years in the field, published works, projects, etc.)
- Other articles published on your site
If you want to go a step further, you can fortify author information with structured data, just to make sure that Google is able to find and identify author information correctly. In this case, there would be two types of structured data involved: article schema and person schema.
The article schema would be used on the article page to highlight the author’s name, as well as some other details about the article. You can add it to your article pages manually, with a plugin, or with Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. Using Markup Helper as an example, you’d have to choose the type of schema and submit an URL:
And then you are taken to a rendered page, where you can highlight various pieces of data and choose what they are from a drop-down menu:
Once you are done tagging, you can copy the piece of markup HTML from the Helper and add it to your website’s page.
Now, for the author’s bio page we’ve got the person schema, which allows tagging all kinds of personal details. Basically, everything we listed above: photos, descriptions, links, etc. Pay special attention to the sameAs property — you can use it to tag the links to other profiles of your author, which helps Google to establish your author as an entity.
There is currently no person schema available in the Markup Helper, so it can only be added manually or with a dedicated Schema plugin. If your website is built on WordPress or any other CMS platform, then there are guaranteed to be a bunch of plugins that will do the markup at a click of a button.
2. Article date
Google has claimed multiple times that the date of the article and the article freshness in general are not ranking factors. There have been multiple experiments in the SEO community trying to prove or disprove these claims by either changing the dates of all the articles on a website or removing the dates altogether. So far, I can’t say there is a single strategy that works best for everyone.
One thing that we do know is that the date of the article is considered important for getting into Google News and it’s listed in the transparency section of the Google News policies:
We don’t know for sure whether or not this extends to non-news articles, but it’s clear Google believes dates contribute to the credibility of your content in general. And in the interest of full transparency, I’d say it’s best to include both the date the article was published and the date the article was last updated.
Same as with the author, you can use article schema to highlight the date of the publication.
The SEO community is fixated on earning authority through backlinks — getting other pages to link to your page. But, you can actually gain some authority by yourself linking out to other credible sources of information in your field.
Website owners are often hesitant to link out to other websites because they are afraid of losing traffic and wasting link juice. I’d say it’s not a huge concern as long as you link out to non-competitors and perhaps even downplay the importance of such links by setting them up in a boring manner that does not encourage clicks. And, especially if you are a new site, the benefits of being associated with other authority sites far outweigh the risks of spilling a little link juice.
Some of the ways you can incorporate references into your pages are by providing:
- Image credits
- Quotes from industry experts
- Properly anchored links within the text
- Dedicated reference blocks at the end of the page
Reference blocks are especially underutilized in regular articles. This is a waste because they meet all the criteria for a perfect SEO device — the section is clearly titled for the benefit of Google, each source is properly described, and the whole thing looks too boring for the actual readers to click on anything:
4. Policy pages
It’s repeated time and again, throughout multiple Google documents, that having easily accessible policy and customer service pages goes a long way towards the credibility and user-friendliness of your website. Quality raters in particular are specifically instructed to look for these pages in order to establish the website’s trustworthiness.
To this end, we recommend creating dedicated pages for all the types of policies relevant to your website and then linking to them from the footer of your website:
As you can see from the example above, there is no limit to the number of policies you can have, especially if you are running multiple promotions and client retention programs.
5. Business details
Kinda similar to the previous point, another signal of transparency is the disclosure of information about the company itself. When you provide goods, services, advice, or even just information, users would like to see who is behind the website. Being transparent about website ownership is a strong E-A-T signal. In the most practical sense, it works because there is someone to hold accountable in case anything goes wrong.
Some of the pages that can help you create a sense of transparency are:
- About (vision, mission, history, competitive advantages)
- Meet the team
- Our office
- Contact details
These four pages paint a picture of your company from different angles: this is what we do, who we are, where we work, and this is how you can get in touch with us. It makes you tangible and gives a sense of security to the people using your website.
And if you want Google to recognize your attempt at transparency, you can, again, use structured data to tag business details disclosed on your website. The instruments are all the same: some CMS platforms tag your business details automatically or you can use a plugin, else you can add the tags manually or by using the Markup Helper:
Choose Local Business as the type of markup and enter your URL. Once the tool renders your page, highlight various business details and tell the tool what they are:
When done tagging, copy the markup from the tool and into the head section of your page.
6. User-generated content
Having user-generated content on your website is a great way to demonstrate that your website attracts actual users and engages them enough to leave comments and reviews. So it might be worth it in terms of E-A-T to allow visitors to leave comments, reviews, questions, and other types of user-generated content on your website.
On the flip side, user-generated content is a gateway for spam and Google might actually penalize your website for an unkept comment section. Make sure to take measures against spam on your website, like requiring a login or some kind of verification. At the very least, you can review user content looking for auto-generated comments, comments with links, unhelpful comments, and malicious comments that may spread sensitive information or offend other users.
HTTPS is one of those signals that we don’t have to speculate about — it’s definitely important for Google as is frequently stated through various parts of Google documentation, including Quality Raters Guidelines. Recently, HTTPS is featured as one of the page experience factors, along with Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, and interstitials:
If you don’t yet have HTTPS enabled on your website, check with your hosting provider — most of them have a free SSL available, although enabling it might sometimes be tricky. If not, you can also obtain a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt, although it has to be refreshed every six months.
8. External signals
This is a bit of a cheat because external signals are not added to your website per se. But external signals are still important for your overall E-A-T profile and here are two of them that you can adjust.
The quality and size of your backlink profile are about the only E-A-T signals that Google can measure algorithmically. While growing the size of your backlink profile is a very long-term commitment, the quality can be improved relatively quickly.
One thing you can do is check your existing backlink profile for backlinks coming from spammy pages or websites. If you are using SEO SpyGlass, you can go to the Penalty Risk tab and sort the list from the highest penalty risk to the lowest penalty risk:
In case you have any links coming from spammy websites, you can contact the webmasters of these websites to take them down or you can add them to the disavow file, then download the file and submit it to Google's disavow tool. The disavow tool is your way of asking Google to disregard these backlinks.
If you are up for the task of growing your backlink profile, the best way to start is to close the backlink gap between you and your competitors. For those of you using SEO SpyGlass, you can go to the Domain Comparison > Link Intersection and enter a few of your direct competitors. The tool will compare your backlink profiles and come up with those websites that link to your competitors, but don’t yet link to you:
Those websites that link to two or more of your competitors are the best prospects for link building. Such websites are likely to operate within your market and are clearly open to backlink partnerships.
Google My Business is now the ultimate business directory and the key place you can go to to learn about a local business. The quality of your GMB profile, i.e. the fullness of information, the number of reviews, and the average rating are factored into ranking on Google maps, as well as across other Google surfaces.
Your GMB profile is also one of the places that quality raters check when assessing your E-A-T standing. So, the very least you can do is fill out your profile to the fullest: description, logo, high-quality images, links, products, and so forth — Google will actually give you hints on what’s missing once you log into your GMB admin panel. A step further would be to work with reviewers — reply to positive reviews, try to solve the problem of negative reviewers, and encourage your client base to go on Google and actually leave a review.
Naturally, demonstrating E-A-T goes a lot deeper than creating a few extra pages on your website. For starters, the content itself has to be good before there is even a question of whether it’s credible. And it’s best to involve actual experts in creating the content too. So the advice here is mostly for those who have high-quality and expertly content and need to communicate it to Google.