EAT – Is it just a fancy acronym?

As with anything Google or SEO related, there has been a lot of chatter about EAT signals and their impact on SEO performance ever since they were announced as a thing. We’ve shared guidance on our channels and to our clients about EAT and its purpose, but what does it actually mean and is it something that really matters?

What is EAT?

EAT originally surfaced as part of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines which began in 2015. The SQEG (what a sexy acronym) are basically a guide that Search Quality Raters (people whose job it is to manually rate websites and feed the human results into the algorithm) use to determine whether a website has high quality content. There are 175 pages if you fancy a spot of light reading.

EAT stands for: A high level of Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness

To break that down a little further…

Expertise: This is all about asking if you’re providing value to the conversation and topic that you operate in, in an expert and meaningful way. Do you have a real human face/voice that is responsible for your content? If so, they don’t have to be a recognised or famous expert, but they should be working in a role relevant to the content being produced and be considered an expert on that topic, say a Senior Strategic Search Consultant talking about SEO for example 😉

Authority: This looks at whether the site writing the content is considered an authority on the subject. Are they peer reviewed with relevant links from other authoritative sources? This doesn’t mean you need to have thousands of links from all over the web, but it does mean you need to have some relevant links from similar sites that would back up your content.

Trust: This asks if you’re providing trustworthy advice and content. Does it come from a brand or person that can be considered valid and reliable? Trust goes further than just assessing the words on the page, and again looks to other relevant sources such as legitimate corresponding social accounts and valid contact methods to get in touch with the company.

Does it really matter?

EAT is pretty much just a new way of saying ‘high quality content’ from Google. They’ve added some specific guidance around what that means and how you can utilise it, BUT – the principal is still the same as it was six years ago:

High quality content will always perform better.

So, in answer to the specific question of whether EAT matters, then yes, 100% it does, but I think a better question is: does it matter more now than any other Google content guidance?

I believe the answer is no, EAT doesn’t matter more than high quality content, it is just another way of talking about it and another way of trying to engage marketers in undertaking it. I think it’s a way to try and stop people engaging in poor content practices like keyword stuffing, spammy landing pages, content stealing and all other manners of shady practices.

I think the better thing for people wanting to improve their organic performance to remember is that performance growth lies in the detail. We need to sweat the small stuff and really go granular when presenting our content to users. We need to think about what their needs are for as many different scenarios and address them:

• How can we help?
• Can we provide inspiration?
• Can we help them decide on how to progress with their next purchase?
• Can we point them in the right direction?

This next bit is also important if you want to do EAT/high quality content well:

Not every piece of content you produce needs to be sales or lead based!

It can’t be if it is going to be useful to a wide range of users.

Being helpful = being present in the conversation.

You can’t be helpful if you don’t know what your customers need help with and you can’t help if you don’t write any useful content. This is where detailed and considered SEO research comes into play, to provide you with that guidance on how to be present, relevant and helpful.

If you’re not helpful, you won’t touch the users that are looking for help, therefore you won’t be considered when they actually need a product or service that you can provide. So being helpful, being granular and sweating the small stuff is actually the way you become EAT and a high-quality content producer. And that WILL drive your organic revenue.

Can a brand truly be helpful?

Of course it can!

Can a brand provide advice on caring for a pet? Or how to better organise their money? What about health? Nutrition? Coffee? PC Games? If done from a position of expertise and trust then the answer is a resounding yes, and the brands that do currently, are the brands that are winning in SEO.

What practical steps can I take from this?

Well, the first one is obviously to have a chat to HOME’s SEO team about your content 😉

But outside of that, I’d recommend doing an audit of your current content, trying to answer the simple question: does this help someone in a way that is relevant to the products and services we provide?

If the answer is no, you then need to decide if that content is there for another reason or if there is a way to improve it. Not every single piece of your on-site content will be specifically helpful, but the pieces that are there to attract customers need to be. Oh, it also helps if your products and services are actually helpful too!

So is EAT just a fancy acronym? Well yes, it is, BUT, it’s the context behind the acronym that is important. It’s trying to do what Google has always tried to do, drag content creators, webmasters and digital folks forward into creating high quality content. So, by all means put focus on EAT, it will help, but I’d say it’s more important to be detailed and aim to be truly helpful to your customers – your traffic, sales and reputation should follow, trust me.

Written by:

James Mechan Senior Strategic Search Consultant


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