Google recently released the guidelines they use for rating search responses. This is the first time they’ve ever done this, and those guidelines are a powerful tool for getting more out of your website.
Now we get it. You’re good people, and your business can be trusted. But Google’s algorithms don’t know that. The guidelines tell us how Google Search Quality Evaluators (actual human beings) are being told to rate the quality of websites and search results. This gives us insight into what human evaluators and Google’s algorithm are looking for.
One of the biggest insights? The Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T) system of evaluation. As the guidelines put it, “High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic.”
In some fields or topics, experts are made through study and certifications. In others, expertise is gained practically or through experiencing something firsthand. Use this idea when creating your content. Try to find different ways to show off your expertise on the subject, and remember that the best method will vary largely by the purpose of the website.
For a financial site, expertise can be shown through mentioning the longevity of the company. After all, if a financial business has been around for a while, they must be doing something right. A consulting company, on the other hand, could mention studies or examples, as these show a familiarity with the subject. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, a consumer review site shows expertise by giving priority to well-written reviews by real customers.
Remember that the whole point of expertise is to show that you know what you’re talking about.
The lines between authoritativeness and expertise can be a little blurry. Think of it this way:
Expertise is based on your familiarity and experience with the subject.
Authoritativeness is based on knowledge and position granted from other sources.
When it comes to webpages with medical, financial, or legal information (also known as YMYL webpages), authoritativeness can be relatively simple to establish. There are any number of certifications, degrees, and titles that come with these fields to prove that you’ve been thoroughly trained in the subject.
Authoritativeness gets a little trickier when you enter into fields without clear hierarchies of training. This is where certifications are your friend. Even something as simple as certification you got from an intensive weekend training course adds to your authority.
One of the best ways to show these off is in your About page or by adding a small bio for the author of blog posts or other articles. On standard pages, find a way to mention your company’s certifications. Try to fit it seamlessly into the content so it doesn’t jar the user away from the information.
Don’t have certifications or credentials? Don’t worry. Back up your authority with key points from your resume or your company’s history. A music instructor may not have advanced degrees in guitar, but they can list achievements in their bio: “Bob played guitar on major tours for over ten years. In his fifteen years of teaching, he’s helped over 300 students find their groove.”
The last part of the E-A-T analysis is trustworthiness, and it’s a little trickier. After all, how do you show that your advice isn’t wrong? Or that you won’t use the user’s information nefariously?
By showing expertise and authoritativeness, you’ve gone a long way towards building trustworthiness. But you should also avoid the red flags that make your site or page seem untrustworthy. In fact, it’s a good idea to attempt the opposite as much as possible:
Don’t seem like a scam. Make sure that your site has a modern feel. Use language that is clear and easy to understand. These help establish you as a legit source.
Don’t ask for information for no reason. Be straightforward about any information you ask users to provide. If you’re going to ask for a name, phone number, or email address, make sure the user knows exactly what they’re going to get out of it, and why you’re asking.
Don’t look like a phishing site. A common way to recognize phishing sites is URLs that are odd number and letter combinations to obscure the source. Make sure your URLs are all clear and limit the redirects on your links. Also, don’t ask users to enter information (such as Facebook logins) that they don’t have to.
Limit your download formats. Programs and applications can hint at malware or viruses. When you do have downloads, stick to formats with endings like .txt, .pdf, .docx, .xlsx, or .doc.
Not sure how your website stacks up on the E-A-T analysis? Get in touch and we can schedule a site audit to help improve your ratings! Or download our Website Self-Audit Kit to do it yourself.