Google E-E-A-T: The Key to Higher Rankings and Audience Trust in 2024

Google‘s search algorithms are designed with one primary goal: to deliver the most relevant, useful results to searchers. That‘s why the search giant is constantly refining its methods for assessing content quality and credibility.

Enter E-E-A-T, which stands for:

  • Experience: Demonstrates first-hand knowledge or experience with the topic
  • Expertise: Signifies a high level of knowledge or skill in the subject matter
  • Authoritativeness: Indicates the content creator is a known, respected source on the topic
  • Trustworthiness: Proves the content and website as a whole are legitimate, accurate, and reliable

First introduced as E-A-T in 2014, this framework provides critical guidance for Google‘s search quality evaluators—real humans who assess how well search results satisfy user queries.

The addition of "experience" in late 2022 further emphasized the importance of unique insights gained through personal interaction with a topic, not just book smarts.

But E-E-A-T isn‘t just a checklist for search quality raters. Increasingly, it‘s become a north star for content creators looking to build authority, audience trust, and search visibility.

In fact, a 2022 study by Lily Ray found that sites with strong E-E-A-T signals were 2.5x more likely to rank in the top 10 search results compared to low E-E-A-T competitors.

So how can you infuse your own content with E-E-A-T and reap the rewards in 2024? Let‘s break it down.

Understanding Google‘s Search Quality Rater Guidelines

E-E-A-T is a core concept within Google‘s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, a 168-page document used to train human evaluators.

While not directly involved in ranking algorithms, quality raters‘ assessments help Google fine-tune its systems to better identify and promote high-caliber content.

Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines

According to Google, E-E-A-T is especially critical for "your money, your life" (YMYL) topics—content that could impact readers‘ health, financial stability, safety, or well-being. This includes subjects like:

  • News and current events
  • Health and medical information
  • Financial advice
  • Legal guidance
  • Information on major life decisions (e.g. college, car purchases, parenting)

However, E-E-A-T principles apply across all niches and industries. After all, any brand can benefit from being seen as experienced, expert, authoritative, and trustworthy.

Beyond E-E-A-T, Google‘s Search Quality Rater Guidelines emphasize several other key attributes of high-quality pages:

  • Beneficial purpose: The content helps users accomplish a goal or answers their questions.
  • Creator expertise: The content reflects expert knowledge, experience, and authority.
  • High quality and quantity of main content: The page provides substantial value.
  • Positive website reputation: The site is well-regarded within its industry or niche.
  • Satisfying user experience: The page is easy to navigate and use on various devices.

By understanding Google‘s definition of "high quality," you can better align your content efforts to meet both search engine and human expectations.

The 4 Pillars of E-E-A-T

Now, let‘s take a closer look at each component of E-E-A-T and how you can demonstrate these qualities in your content.

Experience

One of Google‘s chief priorities is delivering information that reflects real-world experience, not just abstract knowledge.

This is particularly crucial for YMYL topics. Would you trust a health article written by someone with no medical background, or a product review from someone who‘s never actually used the item? Probably not.

Experience can take many forms, such as:

  • Hands-on usage of a product or service
  • Direct interactions with a subject or situation
  • Professional background in a field (past or present)
  • Interviews or case studies featuring people with first-hand experience
  • Unique personal narratives and lessons learned

When aiming to showcase experience, consider:

  • Including real photos, videos, or examples from your own experience
  • Collaborating with established experts for original quotes and insights
  • Sharing relatable stories or case studies that illustrate your points
  • Incorporating original research or proprietary data when relevant

For instance, NerdWallet‘s investing content often includes quotes and tips from certified financial planners and investment advisors:

Example of NerdWallet showcasing financial expert insights

Expertise

Expertise is all about demonstrating a deep, authoritative understanding of your topic—no matter how niche. It‘s what helps your brand stand out as a go-to resource and thought leader.

Qualities like formal education, prestigious awards, glowing client testimonials, or a wealth of professional experience can all contribute to perceived expertise.

Some effective ways to convey expertise in digital content include:

  • Author bylines or "about" pages detailing credentials and accomplishments
  • Links to authoritative external sources that support your claims
  • Providing clear, thoughtful answers to common audience questions
  • Using industry terminology (sparingly) to illustrate fluency in the subject
  • Offering unique insights or analysis, not just surface-level information

Healthline‘s articles demonstrate expertise through detailed author bios, links to scientific research, and direct quotes from medical professionals:

Example of Healthline demonstrating medical expertise

However, not every brand or content creator will have conventional expertise signals like advanced degrees or awards. That‘s where the next pillar comes in.

Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness is your overall reputation and influence within your industry. It‘s not just about what you know, but who knows you.

An authoritative website or creator is one that others in the niche link to, share, and reference as a trusted resource. This authority is typically earned over time through consistent publication of accurate, valuable content.

You can cultivate authoritativeness by:

  • Encouraging authoritative websites to link back to your content
  • Accruing brand mentions and shares from respected industry experts
  • Leveraging positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers
  • Building an active, engaged audience on social media or email
  • Contributing thought leadership to well-known publications or events

Digital marketing software company Moz has built authoritative status through their popular blog, online community, and widely-cited domain authority metric:

Example of authoritative Moz blog

Trustworthiness

Finally, trustworthiness is all about proving your content and website are honest, transparent, and dependable.

This matters for all brands, but it‘s absolutely vital for those dealing with sensitive subjects or transactions. A site riddled with inaccuracies, broken links, and sketchy ads won‘t exactly inspire confidence.

Trust-building best practices include:

  • Ensuring website and content accuracy through fact-checking and editorial review
  • Being transparent about site ownership, content creation process, and monetization
  • Clearly labeling sponsored content, affiliate links, or ads
  • Promptly addressing errors or outdated information
  • Providing secure browsing (HTTPS) and easy-to-find contact information
  • Respecting user privacy and data

Ecommerce giant Amazon has earned consumer trust through secure transactions, transparent seller and product review systems, and making good on their promises:

Example of Amazon's trusted reviews and seller ratings

How to Audit & Improve Your Website‘s E-E-A-T

Understanding E-E-A-T is one thing; actually implementing it is another. One of the best places to start is with a thorough content audit to assess how well your website demonstrates experience, expertise, authority, and trust in the eyes of both search engines and human users.

Some key aspects to evaluate include:

  1. Content accuracy and depth: Are your claims backed by authoritative sources? Do you cover topics comprehensively or just scratch the surface?

  2. Author and source credibility: Are content creators well-qualified to write on the subject? Are external links to high-quality, trusted websites?

  3. Brand reputation and reach: What are people saying about your brand online? Do authoritative sites link to and share your content?

  4. Website quality and transparency: Is key information like contact details and ad/affiliate disclosures easy to find? Does your site look professional and load quickly?

Platforms like Ahrefs and Semrush offer automated E-E-A-T auditing tools, but you can also assess your site manually using Google‘s Search Quality Rater Guidelines as a reference.

Once you‘ve identified strengths, gaps, and opportunities, create an action plan that may involve:

  • Refreshing existing content to be more comprehensive and factually rigorous
  • Implementing more robust editorial review and fact-checking processes
  • Collaborating with established experts and thought leaders in your space
  • Pursuing high-quality backlinks and brand mentions to build authority
  • Enhancing site security, navigation, and overall user experience

Of course, E-E-A-T optimization isn‘t a one-and-done endeavor. Commit to continually creating and updating content that meets quality guidelines as your brand grows.

E-E-A-T in Action: Real-World Examples

Need some inspiration for your own E-E-A-T efforts? Let‘s take a look at a few brands hitting the mark.

The Wirecutter

The New York Times-owned product review site The Wirecutter is a shining example of E-E-A-T done right. Their extensive, unbiased reviews reflect both rigorous testing and expert insights.

Example of The Wirecutter's expert product reviews

A few E-E-A-T highlights:

  • Detailed "about us" and author bio pages outlining expertise
  • Comprehensive, continually-updated reviews featuring hands-on experience
  • Transparent methodology and clear separation between editorial and advertising
  • Authoritative publisher (The New York Times) and frequent backlinks from other trusted sites

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic has firmly established itself as one of the most trusted online resources for health information. Their content blends practicality and expertise to provide clear answers to common health queries.

Example of Cleveland Clinic's expert-written health content

What stands out:

  • All content reviewed by credentialed medical experts
  • Extensive linking to scientific research and authoritative sources
  • Clean design and navigation for intuitive user experience
  • Strong offline brand recognition and reputation in the medical field

Patagonia

Outdoor gear retailer Patagonia isn‘t just an ecommerce site; it‘s a trusted resource and advocate for environmental causes. Their content reflects deep knowledge and passion for the great outdoors.

Example of Patagonia's expert outdoor gear guides

E-E-A-T strengths include:

  • Detailed guides written by experienced outdoor enthusiasts
  • Compelling brand story and values woven throughout site content
  • Site security, transparent sourcing information, and easy-to-find customer service
  • Impressive brand reputation and recognition in the outdoor industry and beyond

Expert E-E-A-T Tips for 2024 & Beyond

As you craft your E-E-A-T-infused content strategy, keep these tips from industry leaders in mind:

Prioritize usefulness and purpose

"The first step to any SEO strategy, including E-E-A-T, is to identify the purpose of your content and how it serves your audience. Every piece should have a clear reason for existing and provide unique value." – Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media

Before creating content, ask:

  • What questions does this answer or problems does it solve?
  • How is it different or better than what‘s already out there?
  • What key takeaways or next steps am I providing?

Leverage the power of people

"E-E-A-T is fundamentally about surfacing content from people who truly know their stuff. Whenever possible, have content written by authors with demonstrable expertise on the topic at hand." – Lily Ray, Senior Director of SEO at Amsive Digital

Consider:

  • Highlighting author credentials and experience in bylines or "about" pages
  • Using author schema markup to tie content to creators
  • Embracing personal pronouns ("I" and "we") when sharing first-hand insights

Think beyond traditional signals

"Expertise and authority can come from places other than formal degrees or certifications. Look for opportunities to showcase experience and clout that may be unique to your brand or niche." – Dale Bertrand, President of Fire&Spark

Sources of E-E-A-T could include:

  • Glowing customer testimonials or case studies
  • Appearances at major industry events or media outlets
  • Original research or data no one else has access to
  • Endorsements or interviews with known experts or influencers

Focus on the long game

"E-E-A-T isn‘t something you can fake or build overnight. It requires consistent effort and commitment to serving your audience over time. Aim to play the long game of proving your worth, one quality piece of content at a time." – Britney Muller, Founder of Data Sci 101

Avoid get-E-E-A-T-quick schemes like:

  • Purchasing backlinks or followers
  • Keyword stuffing or cloaking
  • Publishing low-quality, thin content at scale
  • Plagiarizing content or making unsubstantiated claims

Make E-E-A-T a team effort

"Truly enhancing E-E-A-T often requires cross-functional collaboration between content, SEO, web development, and other teams. Ensure all stakeholders understand E-E-A-T principles and how their work contributes to the bigger picture." – Rachel Anderson, Director of Digital at Volt Agency

Consider holding an E-E-A-T training that covers:

  • The basics of Google‘s Search Quality Rater Guidelines
  • Examples of what E-E-A-T looks like in your industry
  • How each role or department can contribute to E-E-A-T
  • Resources for ongoing education and inspiration

Preparing for the Future of Search

From passage-based indexing to the helpful content update, Google‘s recent algorithm changes all point to one thing: the future of search is about quality over quantity.

By using the E-E-A-T framework to guide your content efforts, you‘re not just optimizing for current algorithms; you‘re laying the groundwork for long-term search visibility and audience loyalty.

Yes, building experience, expertise, authority, and trust takes time and effort. But it‘s never too late to start investing in content that showcases why your brand is the best answer to your audience‘s needs.

To recap, key strategies include:

  • Conducting regular E-E-A-T audits to assess and improve content quality
  • Collaborating with experts and influencers to enhance credibility
  • Pursuing high-quality backlinks and brand mentions to boost authority
  • Providing a secure, user-friendly website experience
  • Being transparent about monetization and content creation processes
  • Continuously updating and improving content to reflect the latest information

Above all, keep the focus on creating people-first content—that which genuinely helps, informs, and resonates with your unique audience. No matter how many algorithm updates or acronyms come our way, that‘s one constant you can count on.

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