E-E-A-T Explained: Google’s Content Guidelines For SEO

Aaron Haynes
Apr 18, 2024

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Google’s added an extra E to E-A-T, signaling a major shift towards “Experience.” Are your content strategies keeping pace?

So you don’t get caught with your pants down, our guide reveals the advanced tactics (your competitors may be missing) to strengthen your expertise, leverage firsthand knowledge, and position yourself as the authority in even the most competitive niches.

What is E-E-A-T in SEO? Addressing the “Experience” Update

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. It’s a core part of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines—essentially, the rulebook used by Google’s Search Quality Raters to judge the expertise of content creators and the quality of the content they create. While not a direct ranking factor itself, E-E-A-T strongly influences how Google’s algorithms perceive your site.

Let’s tease each element apart.

E for Experience

Experience, specifically, first-hand experience. Yup, Google wants to see content from creators who have actually done the thing, used the product, or lived through the situation they’re writing about.

While not essential for every topic, it’s becoming increasingly important—especially for YMYL content (Your Money Your Life content that offers advice on finances, health, and big life decisions).

Why the shift? Imagine you’re researching home renovations. Would you trust generic DIY advice with little to no original insights or evidence of actual renovations? Or a guide where the author shares their own recent remodel experience, complete with photos, videos, and lessons learned? That personal perspective demonstrates real-world knowledge and offers genuine value to readers, something generic content written purely for rankings never can.

Google gets this. Their guidelines even use the example of preferring product reviews written by someone who’s actually used the product over a standard list of features. This builds trust and helps searchers feel like they’re getting an honest assessment.

E for Expertise

This “E” is all about those formal qualifications—degrees, certifications, and professional titles. It’s about demonstrating you know your stuff from a first-principle level.

Quick distinction (because the line between expertise and experience is sometimes blurred): someone might be a qualified financial advisor with all the right credentials, but that doesn’t mean they fully understand the struggles of living paycheck to paycheck. Here, expertise is signaled, but not experience.

Or, you might have an incredibly talented chef who never went to culinary school. That kitchen experience is valuable, but expertise isn’t being signaled. Ideally, signaling both experience and expertise to Google is best for ranking.

The key is knowing when formal expertise matters most. For YMYL topics especially, Google wants to see those credentials as a sign that the information you’re providing is backed up by recognized knowledge and training, not just a hunch.

A for Authoritativeness

Think of authoritativeness as your reputation within your field. It’s about being the go-to source, the one others trust and look up to. How is this reputation built? Social proof plays a big part—think positive reviews, recommendations, and brand mentions on other respected sites. But it goes deeper than just what people say about you; it’s also how Google perceives your influence.

This is where backlinks and citations come in. When other high-quality, relevant websites link to your content, it’s a signal of authority. Likewise, citations (mentions of your brand or website, even without a direct link) help establish your presence within your niche. Google looks at these signals, along with factors like your site’s overall traffic and engagement metrics, to gauge your overall reputation and influence.

T for Trustworthiness

Consider this the bedrock of E-E-A-T. Does your website feel safe, secure, and reliable? Even with great content and credentials, a poorly designed or shady-looking site will tank your trustworthiness score. Google Quality Raters look for signs that your website prioritizes user experience and data protection.

This means being transparent about who’s behind the website, providing easy contact information, and making sure any transactions are secure. It means citing trustworthy sources, avoiding excessive ads, and keeping your website updated and error-free.

For YMYL topics especially, factual accuracy and combating misinformation are crucial.  Essentially, Google wants to feel confident recommending your website to searchers.

E-E-A-T for YMYL Content

That YMYL content I’ve been mentioning? When it comes to E-E-A-T, YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content is a whole different ball game.

Advice on finances, health, or major life choices can have serious consequences if it’s wrong.  That’s why Google holds YMYL content to an especially high standard. Think about it: if you’re searching for information on a medical condition, inaccurate advice could be detrimental to your health, putting you at risk.

If you’re not sure if the topics you’re tackling fall within YMYL content, here’s how Google defines it:

  • “Topics that could harm mental, physical, and emotional health, or any form of safety, such as physical safety or safety online.”
  • “Topics that could damage a person’s ability to support themselves and their families.”
  • “Topics that could negatively impact groups of people, issues of public interest, trust in public institutions, etc.”
  • “Topics that could hurt people or negatively impact the welfare or well-being of society.”

This is where the balance between expertise and experience gets tricky. While sharing personal experiences can be valuable in some YMYL areas, Google often wants to see those formal credentials, too. For instance, a blog post about managing a chronic illness written by a patient offers a unique perspective. But for in-depth medical advice, a qualified doctor is essential.

The best approach is often a combination. Partnering with experts for fact-checking, co-authoring content, or even carefully sourcing credible information ensures your YMYL content is both responsible and helpful. If you aren’t the expert yourself, make that clear, highlighting where your expertise does lie.

Demonstrating E-E-A-T in Your Content (Actionable Tips)

Ready to turn E-E-A-T from theory into practice? Here are the actionable steps you can take to demonstrate your content’s credibility.

Demonstrating Experience

Sometimes, the best way to show your experience isn’t just telling people what you know but proving it in action. This is where content formats come in.

Detailed case studies that walk readers through how you solved a problem or achieved a result are a powerful way to demonstrate real-world expertise. Step-by-step tutorials based on your own projects, not just generic instructions, show you’ve done the work yourself. And within YMYL guidelines, even carefully moderated forums can be valuable, letting readers see your firsthand knowledge in how you answer questions or guide discussions.

Unique images and videos are also powerful tools for showcasing your experience. Think about it:

  • Before-and-after photos in a home renovation blog demonstrate your skills and the impact of your work.
  • Original data visualizations in a financial planning article make complex concepts easier to understand and show your grasp of the subject matter.
  • Custom explainer videos in a health and wellness guide visually walk viewers through an exercise routine, proving you’ve actually done the exercises yourself.

The key is weaving your experience into your writing and visuals. Instead of just stating facts, share personal anecdotes (used responsibly and ethically), insights from past projects, and lessons learned. This not only builds trust but makes your content far more engaging and memorable than a dry textbook-style approach.

Remember, demonstrating experience is about showing, not just telling.

Building Expertise

Think of building expertise as building your reputation. Start with the basics: Author bios on your website should concisely highlight your qualifications, relevant experience, and key accomplishments. An “About Us” page further establishes the credibility of your team as a whole. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Seeking out opportunities to contribute to authoritative websites in your niche positions you as a thought leader, expanding your reach beyond your own site. If you’re unsure where to start, consider working with a qualified editor that is accredited on the topic you’re writing. Citing them as the editor not only signals to Google your content’s alignment with YMYL guidelines, but will help refine your the written piece and ensure it meets the standards of top-tier publications. It’s about putting your expertise on display for the entire industry to see.

Establishing Authority

While the number of backlinks and followers does matter, it’s far more about establishing yourself as a respected voice in your niche. One way to do this is by focusing on quality over quantity with your backlinks. Aim for getting high-quality, relevant websites within your industry to link back to your content. This signals to Google that other experts consider your content valuable and trustworthy.

But authority isn’t just built on search engines. Social media plays a role, too. Focus on engaging with your industry peers, sharing not only your own content but also curating relevant insights from others and participating in relevant conversations. This helps cement your reputation as someone who’s actively involved in your field and genuinely interested in knowledge-sharing, not just an armchair expert.

Cultivating Trust

Building trust is like building a good relationship—it takes effort and consistency. Even a small oversight can make users question your reliability. Make sure your website is secure, loads quickly, and is easy to navigate. A poorly designed or outdated site sends a negative message, regardless of the content quality. Similarly, be transparent about how you handle negative feedback. Do you respond professionally, address concerns, or try to bury criticism? Users notice these things.

Finally, don’t slack on fact-checking and citing sources. Doing so demonstrates your commitment to accuracy. This matters even in non-YMYL topics. Providing reputable sources builds trust and helps readers feel confident that your information is reliable.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Yes, optimizing for E-E-A-T takes effort, but think of it as an investment in the long-term success of your content. By demonstrating experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, you’ll not only see better search rankings, but you’ll build a loyal and engaged audience. And isn’t that what content creation is all about? As content creators, we have a responsibility to provide reliable information. It’s about respecting your audience enough to give them your best.

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Written by Aaron Haynes on April 18, 2024

CEO and partner at Loganix, I believe in taking what you do best and sharing it with the world in the most transparent and powerful way possible. If I am not running the business, I am neck deep in client SEO.