Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-A-T) or T-E-A as I like to call it (I am a big Twinings fan) is something that has been thrown around a lot since the big medic update (coined by SEO legend Barry Schwartz) took affect back in 2018. The update heavily impacted a bunch of sites and acted very much like a giant tea strainer.
The update was spurred on by a problem Google saw when providing results covering financial advice or medical services. As basically anyone could make a site covering these niches they ran the risk of providing users with false, inaccurate and untested theories or subjects which could do a lot of damage to users on many levels.
With certain types of queries, there is much potential to negatively impact a user’s “health, happiness, or wealth” — in other words, if these pages are sub-par, they could dramatically impact a user’s well-being. Various medical and YMYL (your money or your life) sites’ organic rankings sadly fell like tea leaves out of torn bag of Bushells.
How to Keep Your Kettle Warm
Despite many sites actually deserving it, a few medical practitioners who have put their hearts and souls into their profession, took a big hit simply because their sites did not tick a few boxes which we all now know should be ticked.
So which boxes am I referring too?
Like any everyday consumer or business, people want to buy or work with businesses they trust. They want to trust they will get want they want or are provided with a service they were told they would receive. Would you work with a business you thought was a little dodgy?
A practitioner’s tertiary qualifications, credentials and certificates are put up on walls for a reason. Not only are they there for their good looks (and classy serif fonts) but they also aim to show clients that they have the expertise and knowledge to deliver the goods.
Experience is an incredibly important factor when instilling a sense of confidence and integrity with potential clients. To be quoted, referenced and respected is to put yourself in the best position to attract a plethora of great clients.
These elements may be beautifully illustrated in an office but not having them reflected on your website might not sit well with online users.
E-A-T is mentioned quite a bit throughout Google's Search Quality Guidelines - a document published in 2013 to help website owners and SEOs decipher what Google yearns for when it comes to site characteristics.
Shortly after the July 2018 update to the guidelines, Google made some additions that we also need to consider. The quality evaluators behind the scenes would now review not only a website’s E-A-T but also the content creators E-A-T too.
The A-Z of T-E-A Production
To keep things simple, I thought I would go over 12 areas from A-Z which can help you generate more T-E-A than a thousand Twinings factories.
Is there a page which fleshes out the business and what makes it tick? If the history of the business, its staff and mantras are made known, it is much easier to decide if you want to buy into that business.
Must include: Staff images, business history, mission statements, awards won, positive press mentions, endorsements, applicable licenses.
Pushy ad copy and displays especially those above the fold can impose unwanted pressure on users so make sure this and any overly imposing advertising is kept to a minimum.
Must include: Easy to dismiss popups, labelled adverts, ads which promote products or services related to your niche, non-imposing ads.
Who contributes to your site is important now as Google will check out those who you are using to contribute to your site. If I was relying on your expertise, I would prefer an expert to relay that info.
Must include: Links to author bios, acknowledgements, social media links to profiles, awards of contributors.
Blogs are a great way to showcase what you excel at, but it is important that your blogs are written by people with the right credentials and supporting evidence. If you are an intern working in a hospital emergency room, there is no point having them write a blog about brain surgery best practice.
Must include: Infographics, brief author bios, references, position the author holds, copy that is not too commercially focussed.
To gain trust, users need quick access to customer service options. Whether it is a handy frequently asked questions (FAQ) section or helpline, people want to know they can get the assistance they need.
Must include: Easy to use contacts page, maps, FAQ page, shipping and returns information, size guides (for clothing stores).
Inbound links are important when painting a positive, trustworthy picture in Google’s eyes. However, not just any links will cut it when generating the authority, traffic and relevance that Google craves. When building links to your site, make sure they are congruent to your niche, from high authority sites and bring good traffic your way.
Must include: Vertically relevant inbound links, anchor text relevant to the content on your site, links which bring the right traffic.
A site which is generally well maintained when it comes to aesthetics, functionality and usability is also critical when keeping users on site. Making sure every page is useful, functional and contains pertinent information will not only keep you in the good books with Google but it will make sure those who visit your site become returning patrons.
Must include: Content rich pages, a small to limited amount of crawl errors, error-free technical elements, correctly cached copy, fast load times, easy to use navigation.
If your business is mentioned in the same sentence as other industry power players, then you must be doing something right. Cultivating a strong knit bond with others in your niche or via side-niches can help generate good buzz and free advertising for you so developing and showcasing these binds is key to pushing your business forward.
Must include: Mentions of big wig affiliates, top brands you have worked with, charity work, events you’ve supported, positive reviews, case studies, ability to engage with users and for them to provide feedback.
Website policies may seem boring and not many people read them, but they show transparency and guidelines which help the end-user. Having these in place can be especially useful when avoiding disputes and client issues so include them!
Quality of Content
This one sounds rather straight forward but the implementation here can be quite a task. When it comes to quality this doesn’t just mean that copy makes sense and is grammatically correct. It also involves effectively answering user queries and ensuring these answers are provided in an easy to digest manner free from spammy, over-optimised copy.
Must include: Compelling calls to action, thoroughly researched perspectives, bullet-proof evidence, easy to read copy, product specifications, relevant content based on your main service, LSI keywords.
How professionals in your given field and those affiliated to your niche view you on and offline is essential when gauging your value and integrity to potential clients. Even positive news from non-related sites can help divert more clients to your site so developing a positive reputation across the web and in your field can reap some major rewards.
Must include: External press mentions, responses to bad press and reviews, awards earned, testimonials or endorsements.
As technology speeds forward so do cyber attacks and the sophistication they carry. If a site is vulnerable to attacks, they are equally vulnerable to compromising the site’s reputation and integrity.
Must include: Updated plugins and content management systems, valid SSL certificates, malware protection, unhacked pages.
Just imagine you are looking for SEO help with a critical part of your life whether it is a backache, sore throat, or crack in your wall – would you trust anyone to answer your queries?
Probably not, so put yourself in your customer’s shoes and do all you can to put them at ease. Impress them, promote your trustworthiness and show them your aromatic goodness.