What is E-A-T for Entity SEO?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. One of the complications of E-A-T is that it is unclear how Google might apply the signals of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness to its search algorithms. The simple answer to this question is that if Google clearly understands who the author and publisher of the content is, then it can apply the signals it finds for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. If it hasn’t understood, then any E-A-T signals it applies in the algorithms are guesswork, less reliable and will therefore have less influence on rankings.
One way to determine if Google has explicitly and confidently understood a person, company or other entity is to look at Google’s Knowledge Graph or a Knowledge Panel on the Brand SERP for that entity. But Google is also capable of guessing an entity from the text on your web page: Although it does not explicitly understand the entity from the perspective of the Knowledge Graph or Knowledge Panel, it understands the entity in the context of the text and can partially apply the E-A-T signals (see above for the implications of that).
The Components of E-A-T for Entity SEO
- Expertise is what you say in your content. Google pays attention to whether that content is high quality, relevant and accurate.
- Authority is what peers say about the content, the publisher, or the author.
- Trustworthiness is what customers or users say about the content, the publisher, or the author.
This is an oversimplification, of course, but it’s a good way to approach your E-A-T work by breaking it down into what you say, what your peers say about you, and what your customers say about you to understand how to build your expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness as a person or as a brand.
At What Level is E-A-T Measured by Google?
Google measures expertise, authority, and trustworthiness at three levels. It measures them at content level, at author level, and at publisher (brand) level.
To apply the E-A-T signals mentioned above, Google needs to understand who wrote the content and who published it. Ideally, expertise, authority and trustworthiness are demonstrated at page level, author level, and at publisher/brand level.
What are the Signals Does Google Use for Evaluating E-A-T?
Just as with all Google’s algorithms, we don’t know exactly which signals Google is looking at, nor their relative value. Worse, how they interact with each other, the direct or indirect “knock-on” effect of any indirect effect of any of (literally) millions of signals means that there is no real point in “chasing the algorithm” with specifics. At Kalicube, we opt for a holistic approach – building up thousands of small signals into a convincing whole is the trick. And, since Google’s ultimate aim is to find the content that is most relevant and helpful to its users, thinking in terms of what signals will convince your audience is a great approach.
Here are some of the basic, simpler, direct E-A-T signals we are sure about.
Some direct signals Google looks at for evaluating Expertise are the quality of your website, the quality of your content, whether what you say in your content is in line with the general opinion on the Internet and whether your audience appreciates your content. This content can be on your website or on your social media platforms or in your responses on review platforms to your customers’ reviews. In fact, any content that Google can easily associate with your brand or yourself online on your website or off your website.
Some direct signals Google looks at for evaluating Authority are things like inbound links from authoritative sources in your industry, either from influential or important publications or relevant websites. So an inbound link from the New York Times would always be a great signal of authority, but a highly relevant website that is authoritative in the industry is better. For example, if I were a dentist, a link from the New York Dental Association would be even more valuable because it’s relevant. Also, it matters if your peers comment on your content or if they share your content on social media, or mention the person, the company or cite the content in their publications with or without a link. Profile pages on authoritative, human curated sites are also powerful: Muckrack for authors, Forbes for companies…
Some direct signals Google looks at for evaluating Trustworthiness are customer reviews, customer comments on your web pages, customer interaction with your posts on social media from step one, expertise on all online platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, also user comments on forums and so on and so forth. In short, any user feedback about your service, your company or yourself that proves your credibility in the eyes of your users or customers.
How does E-A-T Fit into Brand SERP Knowledge Panels?
As mentioned earlier, once Google understands who you are, it can easily and reliably apply the E-A-T signals. If Google explicitly and confidently knows who published the content and who authored the content, then it can apply those E-A-T signals. If it does not, it will have to guess when applying the E-A-T signals, meaning it will be less confident and the strength of the signals will be dampened.
If you have a Knowledge Panel in your Brand SERP (what your audience sees when they google your personal name or brand name), that’s a clear signal that Google understands who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, and therefore can confidently and fully apply the E-A-T signals.
If you do not have a Knowledge Panel, then you can look at the left hand side of the Brand SERP to see how well Google is guessing. This gives you an indication of both how close you are to getting a Knowledge Panel and also how fully google is likely to be applying the E-A-T signals. How fully your Brand SERP reflects your brand message, and how accurately it represents your brand to your audience is a very good indication of how close Google is to truly understanding you and how well it is likely to guess who you are when it applies those E-A-T signals.
So analysing and measuring your Brand SERP is a KPI you can use for the understanding Google has of your entity, and thus its ability to apply the E-A-T signals you work so hard to achieve.
For further understanding about E-A-T in SEO, listen to this podcast episode with Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) with Lily Ray: E-A-T, the how, the why and the what to do or watch this Kalicube Knowledge Nugget with Slobodan Manic: How E-A-T Signals are Affected by Google’s Understanding of the Entity