E-A-T was once known as the main measure of site quality. But now, double-E-A-T reigns supreme – and Google’s got an insatiable appetite for it.

But what does E-E-A-T stand for? Why does it matter? And how can you potentially improve results for your clients with better E-E-A-T content? We’ll satisfy your hunger for knowledge and get you up to speed on Google E-E-A-T guidelines in today’s post.

what is eeat in seo

What Is E-E-A-T?

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust. This acronym is currently the cornerstone of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG), which is a 175-page document used by the folks at Google to evaluate websites and their content quality.

Once Google’s Quality Raters determine that a site has a beneficial purpose and its page quality, they’ll use Google E-E-A-T guidelines to decide whether that site and its content meet the specific criteria they’ve deemed to show reliability, proficiency, and validity.

However, it’s important to know that E-E-A-T is not technically a ranking signal. Unlike confirmed Google ranking factors like the Core Web Vitals, backlinks, and anchor text, a site’s E-E-A-T score does not directly influence where it appears in Google SERPs. That said, we know that content quality – a major component of E-E-A-T – does influence site rankings. In other words, E-E-A-T may indirectly influence rankings, even if the site’s E-E-A-T score isn’t plugged into the algorithm. What’s more, Google claims that E-E-A-T scores are used to refine its algorithm over time, meaning that those scores could potentially play a bigger role in rankings down the road.

While this distinction is inherently a bit squishy, the main takeaway is that Google has invested heavily in promoting E-E-A-T. We can assume, then, that it’s something marketers need to pay attention to, even if we can’t quantify exactly how it factors into how sites are currently ranked in search results. By prioritizing E-E-A-T now, your clients will be better positioned for the future.

With that, here’s a quick rundown of how we’d define these values.

Experience: Possessing in-depth knowledge of the topic at hand, typically achieved as a primary source or through direct involvement

Expertise: Demonstrating definitive and provable skill in relevant areas, often requiring credentials to support claims being made

Authority: Proving both the content author and the site itself are dependable sources and leaders in the sector

Trust: Establishing the credibility and factuality of authorship to ensure both accuracy and goodwill; defined as the main pillar of E-E-A-T

When a website or specific webpage meets all of these criteria, its E-E-A-T value is rated as high – essentially receiving Google’s quality seal of approval.

What’s the Difference Between E-A-T and E-E-A-T in SEO?

We’ve talked about E-A-T’s impact on search rankings in the past. But since then, Google has added an extra letter – and some extra expectations.

The added “E” in E-E-A-T stands for experience. At first, the difference between experience and expertise might seem like mere semantics. Those words are often used interchangeably in conversation, so it may not be immediately obvious why Google chose to separate so distinctly. So how does experience differ from expertise in this context?

There’s an implied “first-hand” that precedes the “experience” in E-E-A-T. While expertise and first-hand experience often accompany one another, Google wants to know that creators of web content possess some kind of hands-on knowledge of the topic.

Google explains how this is evaluated:

Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place, or communicating what a person experienced? There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.

Google’s initial acronym didn’t address this level of familiarity. In theory, a respected food publication could publish round-ups of popular restaurants their staff had never visited – and under the old system, that content might still be perceived positively. But under current Google E-E-A-T guidelines, that content would be worthier of recognition if it were posted by a verified food critic who visited those establishments themself and shared their personal experiences. On the other hand, an anonymous review of a restaurant isn’t going to fulfill the “expertise” category – even if the reviewer had, in fact, enjoyed a meal there.

As Ahrefs points out, “Expertise is about knowledge and skills. Naturally, to gain that, you also need experience. But it doesn’t work the other way around. Experience alone doesn’t make you an expert..”

It boils down to this: You’ve got to talk the talk and walk the walk if you want to check the box for that extra “E.”

Why Does E-E-A-T Content Matter?

Arguably, there are millions of websites out there that don’t seem to care much about E-E-A-T. Since E-E-A-T is notably not among the hundreds of ranking signals used by Google’s algorithm, marketers and business owners might view E-E-A-T as low on the priority list.

But although a site’s E-E-A-T rating doesn’t directly impact where it appears in organic search results, it’s realistically going to become tougher to succeed in SEO without demonstrating your experience, expertise, authority, and trust.

Google has confirmed E-E-A-T scores are used to “evaluate the performance of their search ranking systems.” They also recommend these guidelines for creators to self-assess their online content. While E-E-A-T doesn’t have a direct impact, it’s clearly an influential factor in determining content value – and ultimately, that means it’ll have some sort of impact on how Google perceives the site’s worth.

And as artificial intelligence becomes even more prevalent, experts believe that investing in E-E-A-T may theoretically help set original, high-caliber sites apart from the ones that rely on AI to regurgitate existing content from all across the web. When you’re a verified expert who shares in-depth knowledge and valuable, unique takeaways, you’ll provide inherent and unparalleled value – something AI simply can’t offer.

Aside from the AI angle and algorithm adjustments, most human users really care about these values, too. At a time when misinformation runs rampant, many (though not all) web users go to great lengths to verify the source of their information. If you make it easy for folks to fact-check you, you’ll automatically gain trust points.

Google tells us that trust is actually the most important part of the equation; the other parts don’t matter much without trustworthiness. Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose – and every brand understandably wants more of it.

By showing off your experience, expertise, and authoritativeness, you’ll likely build up that coveted trust and boost your brand’s reputation (all while appealing to the Google gods).

What Are the Google E-E-A-T Guidelines and How Are Websites Evaluated?

While the acronym is simple, the way Google actually grades websites and content is fairly complex. We don’t know everything about these complicated calculations, but we do have access to some of the grading information that Google takes into account.

Per reporting from Search Engine Journal, we’ve learned that Google’s quality raters are given a scale to rate websites for their E-E-A-T and other metrics:

google eeat guidelines ranking scale width=

Image credit: Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines (2022)

Quality raters evaluate a site based on whether a site is helpful and satisfies the intent of the majority of web searchers (a metric known as “needs met”), as well as its page quality and whether it adheres to Google E-E-A-T guidelines.

There are numerous considerations to take into account here. Search Engine Land breaks down a few of the additional steps that quality raters must take to evaluate a site, which include:

  • Clearly identifying who owns the site and who created the main content, as well as the reputation of the site’s content creators and owners
  • Determining the page’s purpose, its achievement of that purpose, and its level of potential harm/deception/spamminess (if applicable)
  • Evaluating the page’s topic and whether that topic falls under the YMYL purview
  • Categorizing the site’s type (e.g., corporate or hobbyist site, whether the site involves monetary transactions, whether the site is supported by professionals or volunteers, and how ads impact the user experience)
  • Assessing page and main content quality, including its title (i.e., how much effort, originality, talent or skill, and accuracy can be found within the webpage and its main content, as well as how well the content satisfies the page’s main purpose)

google page quality criteria

Image credit: Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines (2022)

Then, it’s onto evaluating the site or page’s E-E-A-T. Below are the precise directives Google’s quality raters use to help them determine E-E-A – all of which impact the site’s perceived level of trustworthiness (T).

google eeat guidelines

Image credit: Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines (2022)

Google adds:

Trust is the most important member of the E-E-A-T family because untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how Experienced, Expert, or Authoritative they may seem. For example, a financial scam is untrustworthy, even if the content creator is a highly experienced and expert scammer who is considered the go-to on running scams!

E-E-A-T Ratings Scale Breakdown

Once a quality rater has evaluated all of these considerations, how exactly do they score a website? Raters can assign ratings of “Lowest,” “Lowest+,” “Low,” “Low+,” “Medium,” “Medium+,” “High,” “High+,” and “Highest” to websites based on their evaluations; Google has instructed raters to treat the “+” as a “½.”

Lowest Quality Pages

Google notes that pages with the lowest quality on the scale are “untrustworthy, deceptive, harmful to people or society, or have other highly undesirable characteristics.” These can range from spam websites to sites that spread harmful misinformation or encourage violence against specific groups of people.

When a site is determined to have the lowest E-E-A-T indicators, “people cannot or should not use the [main content] of the page,” says Google. “If a page on YMYL topics is highly inexpert, it should be considered Untrustworthy and rated Lowest. Use the Lowest rating if the website and content creator have an extremely negative reputation, to the extent that many people would consider the webpage or website untrustworthy.”

Low Quality Pages

Pages that are rated to have low quality or low E-E-A-T content typically aren’t harmful or malicious; it’s more likely that they simply don’t meet Google’s standards for content caliber or needs met. In many cases, the author may not be authoritative or experienced enough to be considered a trustworthy source on a given topic. In others, the content may contain mild inaccuracies or a lot of “fluff.”

Google explains, “Low quality pages do not achieve their purpose well because they are lacking in an important dimension or have a problematic aspect. Low quality pages do not meet the standards for Lowest but may have similar though milder undesirable characteristics.”

Some of these characteristics could include:

  • Use of “filler” content or commonly known facts that require no additional research
  • Content that prioritizes speed over clarity and organization
  • Content that summarizes already available information from other sources
  • Excessive use of stock images, rather than original graphics that support written content
  • Content that relies on large-scale, distracting images to make up for lack of written value
  • Content authored by someone who lacks expertise or first-hand experience in the topic
  • Content that has no relevance to the site’s vertical or established purpose

Medium Quality Pages

You can think of “Medium” as being acceptable or average. A site like this meets expectations without exceeding them. As Google says, “Medium pages have a beneficial purpose and achieve their purpose. There is nothing wrong with Medium quality pages.” These pages are adequate without being extraordinary. A site that’s hit-or-miss (i.e., excelling in some areas while showing red flags for a Low rating in others) may also average out to a Medium rating.

eeat guidelines medium quality pages

Image credit: Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines (2022)

High Quality Pages

For a page to be rated as High, it needs to have a beneficial purpose that is not anticipated to cause harm. The site needs to provide thorough information about the site and the page’s author. The site and content creator also need to have a positive reputation, while the page’s main content needs to possess a high level of effort, originality, skill, or talent to support the page’s purpose. E-E-A-T needs to be showcased, particularly in regard to trustworthiness.

Google notes: “High quality pages exist for almost any beneficial purpose you can imagine, from providing information to selling products to making people laugh to artistic expression.” These pages can include anything from thorough FAQs to in-depth news articles.

Highest Quality Pages

What separates “High” from “Highest,” according to Google, is the quality of the page’s main content, the website’s/creator’s reputation, and/or the level of E-E-A-T showcased on the page. The quality of the main content and the page’s E-E-A-T needs to be very high, while the reputation of the site owner and/or content creator must be very positive.

For example, original investigative reporting or highly unique artistic content might fall under this category (providing that the page and content meets all other criteria). Google says:

Very high quality main content (MC) should be highly satisfying for people visiting the page… For informational pages, very high quality MC must be accurate, clearly communicated, and consistent with well-established expert consensus when it exists. Very high quality MC represents some of the most outstanding content on a topic or type that's available online… The Highest rating may be justified for pages…created with a very high level of effort, originality, talent, or skill.

How to Implement E-E-A-T Best Practices With Your Clients

Now that you understand the ins and outs of E-E-A-T, you’ll want to ensure your clients are meeting (or exceeding!) Google’s expectations. The more you can help your clients showcase their experience, expertise, and authority, the more trustworthy they’ll be – and that means their SEO strategy will be that much more successful.

So how can you get a clearer sense of how to improve E-E-A-T for your clients? Start by taking a fresh look at their websites and performing some basic assessments.

How Do I Know If a Client’s Site Has Low E-E-A-T?

Unlike with actual penalties or suggested improvements, website owners aren’t notified by Google if their site is found to lack E-E-A-T content or is rated poorly. In other words, you won’t know for certain if a site receives a Low E-E-A-T rating.

That said, you can make an educated guess. Google recommends that webmasters use their search rater guidelines as a means of self-assessment. Because Google page quality and E-E-A-T guidelines are incredibly detailed and include in-depth examples, we’d recommend perusing this document if you want to delve deeper. While you won’t get any verification from Google that your own rating instincts are correct, you’ll at least know exactly what they’re looking for and where your clients may be coming up short.

If you don’t have time to sift through a 175-page document (and we wouldn’t blame you), start by asking yourself these questions as you look at a client’s site:

  • Does the site have a beneficial purpose? How well does it serve that purpose currently?
  • Does the site cover YMYL topics? Could the content potentially have a discernible impact on a reader’s major life decisions or finances?
  • Is the site easy to navigate? Do ads or other features disrupt the user experience?
  • Is information about the site owner and/or content creator easy to find? What’s the reputation of the organization and/or author?
  • Was the site’s content created with obvious effort, talent, or skill? Is it wholly original? Is it accurate?
  • Does the author of the site’s content have definitive experience, expertise, and authority pertaining to the subject matter?
  • What is the public perception of the brand and content author in terms of trustworthiness? Can you identify any trust indicators that others may find helpful or comforting?

While not definitive, your honest answer to these questions can give you a decent understanding of how Google might rate the site’s overall page quality and E-E-A-T.

What Happens to Sites That Don’t Demonstrate E-E-A-T?

Although YMYL websites are subject to more intense scrutiny under Google E-E-A-T guidelines, we’re going to assume that none of your clients have websites that would fall under the “Lowest” category. Even if they did, their E-E-A-T rating would be a warning signal, rather than the source of penalization – and there would be other pressing problems you’d need to tackle immediately.

Google’s raters are ultimately trying to help improve the effectiveness of their algorithms, which means E-E-A-T isn’t going to directly impact where a site appears in search results. Remember: It’s not a ranking signal. However, that doesn’t mean your clients have nothing to worry about when it comes to E-E-A-T.

Let’s say your clients are somewhere in the low-to-medium quality range. Is that cause for alarm? Probably not. But improving E-E-A-T isn’t something you should put off. The longer you wait to improve your clients’ E-E-A-T, the more competition they’re going to have. If they’re not leading the charge, it’s going to be harder to prove their authority once others have already emerged as gurus.

In short: A site that lacks E-E-A-T isn’t going to stand out for the right reasons. It won’t be blacklisted from search, but it probably won’t be worthy of recognition, either.

Ultimately, that could impact your clients’ ranking, traffic, and conversions – so we’d say it’s worth investing in. But rather than panic, you just need a plan.

How Can I Help My Clients Improve Their E-E-A-T?

We know that E-E-A-T in SEO is used to help Google improve its algorithm. But because it’s also an indicator of content and website quality, it’s in your clients’ best interests to address it as part of their ongoing marketing strategy.

With that in mind, our recommendations for how to improve E-E-A-T (and SEO in general!) for your clients include:

  • Creating high-caliber, expert-backed content that goes beyond the basics
  • Publishing content that clients can really speak to (no chasing trends or clicks without expertise and experience)
  • Adopting a show-and-tell approach to content creation that showcases original contributions, rather than repeating information available elsewhere online
  • Auditing existing content to expand or prune pages that don’t showcase E-E-A-T
  • Developing robust “about” and authorship pages for blog contributors to show legitimacy
  • Interlinking to relevant and credible sources (both on-site and off)
  • Focusing on highly relevant link-building to prove authority and trust
  • Examining the site’s user experience and making technical improvements to facilitate streamlined web visits
  • Evaluating brand reputation and invest in reputation management, if need be
  • Encouraging customer reviews and developing a review management system
  • Establishing opportunities for user-generated content (UGC) to satisfy first-hand customer experience with products and services, if applicable

Let Us Help You Showcase E-E-A-T in SEO

Now that you have a good idea of how to improve E-E-A-T for clients, you’ll be able to evaluate their sites through a whole new lens. Following these recommendations may require an increased financial investment in SEO, as well as more time spent on strategy and execution. By communicating the importance of E-E-A-T to your clients and getting the white label SEO support you need to consistently provide these high-caliber services, you’ll be able to grow your business and set your customers up for success.